We’ve all done it—had that immediate reaction to something someone said and next thing you know we’re in a huge kerfuffle of a conversation. Then later, after you’ve had a chance to replay the conversation in your head, or maybe while you are still in the conversation, you realize either what you thought was said isn’t really what was said and the two of you aren’t that far apart anyway, or, the whole issue isn’t really that big a deal. So how do we avoid those blow-ups and misunderstandings?
Today, let’s talk about what makes communication most effective in our everyday relationships.
Effective, uplifting communication is rooted in humility.
This means that we can not assume we are automatically right when we are in conflict with another person. Realize that perhaps the miscommunication is on our end. Every communication requires a speaker and a listener. Either or both can be flawed in their methods.
Wait, what did you say?
- Ask for clarification if you are uncertain as to the message.
- Allow the person to share the depths of their feelings and tell me why they feel the way they do.
- Help them through good questions to understand if their concern is actually about you, or if you are just a person conveniently there to absorb their frustration or anger. (If you’re the latter, don’t take it personally.)
- Resist responding in a knee-jerk way, allowing the person to share what they are feeling.
- Do not respond until you have an excellent understanding of the issue.
- Look for ways to understand—not necessarily always agree—with the perspective of the other.
When we share a concern about another person’s words or behavior, we try to understand their perspective before we rebuke them or argue with them. Is this undesired behavior typical of them? Or is it unusual? Perhaps there are circumstances in their lives that are causing stress, and they are venting it on us. Do not get “lost in the moment”. Do not bring drama in where they should be none. Every argument or disagreement is not effectively “the end of the relationship.” Keep things in perspective by looking at the big picture of the relationship.Effective, uplifting communication is rooted in humility. Click To Tweet
Example: Nancy keeps more stuff than I (Mike) do. It bothers me sometimes, but when I look “big picture” I realize that her positive qualities far outweigh this small situation. Don’t allow relatively unimportant disagreements to become major issues.
We understand that we are also flawed humans, trying to get things right. How would we like it if Jesus condemned or abandoned us for everything we get or do wrong? We give grace and forgive others, because we’ve received grace and forgiveness from God.
Let Scripture Be Your Guide
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
If we are humble, we are probably guilty of something very similar to our spouse or the other party. Realize that if we are guilty of the same thing we accuse others of, then we are hypocrites.Don’t allow relatively unimportant disagreements to become major issues. Click To Tweet
Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”Respect others and treat them the way we would like to be treated. Click To Tweet
Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
This requires understanding the perspective of the other person. How would I feel if they were confronting me with the issue I am now confronting them with? Would I want them to be careful, considerate and helpful? Or condemning and unforgiving? Why should I expect my spouse to be gentle and helpful to me when I treat them the exact opposite?Understand causality in the Bible. Click To Tweet
Galatians 6:7-10 “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Several important principles to grasp
First, when we treat others badly, it will come back to affect us.
- loss of intimacy and fellowship
- God’s discipline and justice
Second, God will reward us if we are treated unfairly, but do not respond out of revenge.
Communication from a position of pride gives Satan a strong foothold in the discussion.
Here’s the reality: If I go into the discussion unable to consider that I might have some of the blame in the conflict, how will I feel when my errors are revealed? If I am prideful, I will justify my own bad behaviors and lash back at you to “prove” your errors are worse than mine.
If both parties are prideful, this starts an escalation of the conflict, as each party now starts to look for other situations where the other party was at fault in other situations. The argument now escalates from one about a specific incident, to one of the other person’s character and nature. It becomes personal instead of looking at a particular issue.Communication from a position of pride gives Satan a foothold. Click To Tweet