Communication is how we express ourselves verbally or non-verbally in a way that the other person can understand and accept. This does not mean they have to agree. However, it does mean that they need to be listening. Whoa, let’s define listening, here. Listening means that one is actually paying attention, in order to hear and understand what is being communicated.
As you can see, in order to have good communication it takes both sides being responsible for their own part. God tells us how to do that in His Word.
Proverbs 16:23 says, “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth and adds learning to his lips.” Have you taken time to teach your mouth or have you passively stood by and merely adopted the ways of others?
James 1:9 says, “Let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” We are instructed about how to listen because we tend to do just the opposite.
Communication is a learned behavior and many of us have inadvertently studied under teachers that were highly unqualified. Parents, family, friends, neighbors and everybody else we came in contact with while we were growing up were the teachers. (This is not intended to point fingers, it is true with most of us.) We tend not to notice their inadequacies, however, until we begin to recognize how badly we suffer because of our ignorance.
If you are one who needs to teach your mouth and add learning to your lips tune into the next few weeks of study. Or, if you tend to be one who doesn’t listen well but rather speaks too soon and finds yourself in a chaotic situations take advantage of this time to learn a few things.
This week we will merely address one simple communication point. Seek to understand rather than to be understood.
Most people do not know how to say what they mean and mean what they say and even if they do the listener rarely understands how to hear what is being communicated. So, listener…it is time to learn to ask questions in order to get a clear understanding about what the other person is trying to communicate.
I suggest you ask questions that start with: “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, or “How”.
For example: Somebody is telling you about their vacation and you tried to follow the story but got distracted or tuned out because you have not yet learned to listen well.
You may ask, “What was the best part of your vacation?” “When did you say you went?” “Why did you come home early?” “Where did you have the most fun?”
Once you are certain you have “heard” the message you are better able to respond.
Practice this one simple tip then in another post we’ll study a point that will advance your skills even more. Remember, you have learned from others but others will also be learning from you.