“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
Are you having trouble getting along with someone? If so, perhaps the problem is nothing more than faulty communication.
Effective communication is the key to good relationships. All too often, however, we either aren’t aware of the key or don’t know how to use it. Let me share with you what I’ve discovered through my own struggles in learning how to communicate effectively:
1) Learn to listen. Real listening is more than just listening with the ears; it’s listening with the heart. This is called empathic listening because its goal is to get inside the feelings of the person to whom you are listening. In other words, it’s putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. When we listen empathically, we put aside our own experience and perceptions and focus on understanding the other person’s point of view.
Often what people say and what they really mean are two different things. For example, suppose your child tells you that he hates school. What he may really be saying is that he’s having trouble understanding his work and he’s afraid of failing. As you give your child room to explore and express his feelings without jumping in and giving him advice, he’ll be more apt to open up to you and listen to what you have to say.
2) Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply. If we’re really honest with ourselves, when we are engaged in a conversation, we’re thinking more of the next thing we’re going to say than of what the other person is saying. The only thing this does is to foster misunderstanding. When we’re thinking of our reply instead of listening to the other person, we’re talking at the other person, not to him. In so doing, we are not giving the other person the respect that he deserves.
3) Define your terms. Sometimes poor communication is the result of misinterpretation of terms. Even though two people may speak the same language, each may attach a different meaning to a particular word. For instance, the word “upset” may to one person mean “angry” and to another, “afraid.” If such confusion can exist between two people speaking the same language, is it any wonder that there is misunderstanding between nations?
4) Make sure you clearly understand what the other person is saying. In order to do this, it sometimes helps to repeat what you have just heard. This tells the other person that you are truly listening to him and that you really care.
5) Always be truthful. Good communication is based on truth. When we exaggerate the truth or distort it out of fear of rejection or fear of punishment, we are not only hindering good communication but also hurting ourselves and the other person. The Bible commands us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Obeying this command will go far toward establishing effective communication and strong relationships.
6 Always be kind and loving. Love is the foundation of all effective communication. Love truly desires the good of the other person. When communicating, obey the Bible injunction found in Colossians 4:6: Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Following these guidelines will help you to strengthen weak relationships and forge new ones based on mutual respect.
Questions: 1) What is your biggest communication challenge? 2) How do you plan to overcome that challenge? You may leave a comment by clicking here. To receive these blog posts in your emailbox, please click here.
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Copyright 2015 by Dr. Mary Ann Diorio. Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via one of her social media venues below: