Over the years, I have had the incredible opportunity to work with countless people and counsel them in the struggles and joys of life. I have learned a few helpful tips on how to communicate better. This list is not exhaustive, and I am sure I could write a book on this, but I hope these pointers will help you look at your relationships and become better and communication. With good communication comes less room for misunderstanding. 🙂
So why is communication so critical? It’s because God wants us to live in unity with one another. Anytime there is a lack of communication; it allows the enemy to come in and destroy what God is trying to build up. Communication should always be in love. If that is the case, then selflessness will shine, and we will live in harmony because we are putting others first. We are called to make sacrifices when we love people, so please set your pride aside and look to the bigger picture of God at work through us working together and not allowing the enemy to deceive and destroy.
1) Humble your heart
Regularly, when we talk to people, it’s all about getting our point across and saying what we have to say. We often do this regardless of the effects that might come with the words that slip out of our mouth. Our pride becomes the issue, and our selfishness supports our desire to be heard so that we can feel good about the words we say. This makes things worse if your conversation is all about you. When you humble your heart and set your pride aside, you can open up to the bigger picture. When your conversations become others focused, then will you begin to understand how to communicate effectively.
2) Listen and Understand
If you have a humble heart and are not trying to push your agenda, it allows you to listen genuinely to what the person has to say. As you are listening, try to understand truly what they are attempting to say and how they feel. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and repeat back what you think that person is saying. That is a form of active listening that will help you think through the situation with a better understanding.
3) Be slow to speak
As you are listening to what the other person has to say, don’t try to jump in until they are done explaining their point of view. Be patient and slow to speak so that you can get a better understanding of where they are coming from. Although this can be hard as we always want to tell somebody, they are wrong and correct them immediately, don’t! Sometimes when you hear yourself talk, you realize that you are in the wrong. Allow them to think out what they are saying because then it’s easier for them to take ownership of it.
4) Before assuming, ask
Many times conflict arises because we think or try to read into something that isn’t there. The easiest way to prevent this is to simply ask what that person is trying to communicate. Clarification can help stop wrong ideas from being entertained. So simply ask, if you are not sure.
5) Be a student of who you are communicating to
Every person is different and how you communicate will change. With each interaction, learn what they mean when they do and say certain things. How you talk to women will be different than men, just like children will require another approach than adults. The challenge is taking the time to be attentive to each person and learning how to communicate effectively with them in a way that they can relate.
6) Look for body language
This goes along with being a student of each person. Eye contact will tell you a lot about an individual, whether they are listening to what you have to say or just blowing you off. Body movement and facial expression will also help you understand a persons reaction to what you are saying. If somebody is smiling and joking around, that sets the tone for the conversation. Where if someone is crying because something happened, you probably don’t want to start laughing and cracking jokes.
7) It’s “how” you say things
The tone of voice is critical when you are talking with people. Of course if you are mad, your tone could come off as really harsh shutting people down and causing them to not want to hear what you say. On the other hand, if you say something in a loving tone, they might be able to listen to what you are saying. This is critical because our tone, sets the tone for what we say.
8) Speak the truth in Love
Love is the key here; we talked about tones, body language and things that will either come off as love or hate. We should never shy away from the truth, especially if it is to help that person build character. But this starts with step 1, having the heart to put others best interest in front of your prideful talk. If you can communicate in a way that shows people you care for them, they will be more prone to change and apply what you have to say. If they feel like you are just pointing the finger in judgement, they will probably not hear anything that comes out of your mouth because their defenses will be up.
9) Build up with words of life
Either you can build people up and give them life, using only the tone of how you say things, or you can tear people apart and bring death. You can say the same thing in two different ways; it can be negative or positive. When you bring out the positive in things and do it in love, people will feel less attacked and more willing to hear what you are saying.
10) Address the issue at hand
When there is conflict or a misunderstanding many times, it is easy just to brush it off and try to forget about it. But the danger in that is when that person does it again, and your anger comes out because it wasn’t addressed the first time, it only makes the situation worse. When something happens, do the hard things and address it. But remember to pick your battles and if you do address it, apply the previous steps to your communication.
I hope this helps you, and again this is not exhaustive and there is so much more to communication. But this is a good start, and some good key points have helped me when working with people in ministry. These can all apply to any relationship you are in and adapted to different circumstances. Life is messy, and each person is different so as you live life, I hope you will also share what you have learned to help us become better at communication.
God bless you, and I would love your feedback 🙂