Sunday Reflections – Understanding & Improving Our Communication

You cannot NOT communicate. You are always communicating something. I heard this in a college class almost 20 years ago, and it stuck with me. Unfortunately, most of us make too many assumptions and spend way too much time following those assumptions about others’ communication. We too often fail to pay enough attention, or any at all, to our own communication abilities.

Realizing this, you can deliberately choose to improve your communication skills. To start, consider these 7 Essential Elements of Communication to be aware of as we seek to improve our ability to communicate.

  1. We judge ourselves by our intentions. We can’t really know for sure the intentions of others. But when we’re honest with ourselves and with a lot of help from the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12), we can better know our own intentions.
  2. We judge others by their actions. Since we can’t truly know another’s intentions, we usually base decisions about others on their actions. Maybe this is one reason showing faith by actions (James 2:18) is so crucial.
  3. People want validation & acceptance. We just want to be accepted and understood. This does not necessarily mean agreement with another’s opinions or actions, but it does mean a willingness to try to understand their perspective. Fortunately, when we fall short in this, God fills the gaps (John 6:37).
  4. Broad shoulders are invaluable. Having broad shoulders means not being offended easily and forgiving freely. Do You Have Broad Shoulders? Developing them improves your ability to communicate by removing the barriers of unforgiveness and misinformation.
  5. The Golden Rule is a terrific communication tool (Luke 6:31). Simply treating others how you want to be treated will improve communications in your relationships significantly.
  6. Seeking first to understand makes a huge difference. Before insisting on being understood, seek to understand others. Doing so not only improves communication, but it keeps you from looking foolish (Proverbs 18:2, 13).
  7. You can only change yourself. Replace old, ineffective habits with new habits that build relationships (Ephesians 4:22-24). Let your mind be renewed continually (Romans 12:1-2). Develop and grow the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

A look at improving our communication skills is lacking to some extent if we fail to focus at least a little on how we handle conflict. Conflict is not only necessary, but it is also unavoidable. Fortunately, conflict can actually strengthen instead of tear relationships apart if we employ point #7 above by specifically looking at our own part in any conflict (Romans 12:18). Do this using these 7 Questions to Ask During a Conflict.

  1. Am I jumping to conclusions?
  2. Am I being insensitive or too sensitive?
  3. Am I being selfish?
  4. Am I doing God’s job?
  5. Am I trying to control others?
  6. Am I communicating clearly?
  7. Could I be the one who is wrong?

Relationships are a top priority for God (Matthew 22:37-39), and fulfilling His command to love others requires good communication skills. What can you do this week to improve your ability to communicate with others?

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6 thoughts on “Sunday Reflections – Understanding & Improving Our Communication

  1. I do think it is key to be an active listener to be able to communicate well. People know if you are engaged with them when they talk to you. If you are not they feel disrespected and also not understood.

    People also want to be heard. I know some of my friends sometimes all they want from me is for me to let them vent or go off about something. I do not have to say anything to them but they will feel better knowing someone understands their hurt.

    If we are in some kind of debate or negotiation with someone we really should try to understand why they are taking the stance they are taking. We do not have to agree with it but it helps the conversation if we do understand them and tell them so.

    We need to hold conversations private if they call for that. We do not need to have a conversation with someone in front of others if it needs to be private.

    We need to accept that with anyone; even those we love deeply, we will have misunderstandings. We need to prepare for this and we need to have an attitude that we will calmly work through misunderstandings. We can not run from a misunderstanding we must work through it to make sure each person understands the other. It helps if the other person knows you will not storm off if there is a misunderstanding they you will work hard at working through.

    • Some terrific wisdom in your words, Mark. Be a good listener, be understanding, be private, be prepared, and be willing. Good stuff! Personally, I need to work most on listening. I too often want to fix, and I really can't do that well if I haven't listened well first. Listening truly can be a ministry, can't it?

      • I do believe it can be Kari. I know I mention this quote a lot but I think it captures my feelings about listening. Paul Tillich said "The first duty of love is to listen".

        • It's truly a great quote. The two most important commandments are to love God and love others, and we simply cannot do either of those without listening to God and to others.

  2. I know jumping to conclusions is a problem for me. For some reason this particularly comes up with my wife. I like the way that it was put in "Love and Respect" – assume a basic goodwill on the part of your partner. But I too often start to think that she has these mean motives – only to find out I was wrong and then to feel like a heel.

    • Me too. Less so in marriage anymore though. I don't know how long you've been married, but somewhere between 10-15 years, I realized that my husband really wasn't operating with hidden motives. What you see is what you get with him. He also realized that he just needs to point blank ask, "Do you want a solution or for me to just listen." He just couldn't know for sure otherwise and was done with getting it wrong. But, I still have a problem assigning motives with others, and I have to deliberately make a choice not to do so. Plus, if I'm tired or hungry or sick or whatever, I tend to do it more and worse. So thankful for forgiveness!

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