Communication is key to our walk with each other and with Christ. Like most things in life, there are ways to do something right and ways to do it wrong. How we communicate determines our relationship with others and how healthy those relationships can be. To get healthy relationships, we have to have healthy communication. What’s included in communication? What can be excluded?
What Do We Exclude?
- Judgment: Using judgment and being judgmental are different things. We use judgment to determine how a new shirt would look on us or to determine what diet plan is healthier. Being judgmental is looking down on someone else-their mannerisms, beliefs, personal situation, etc.
- High Expectations: Conversations about things of importance to you (regardless of how life-altering) and vulnerabilities may not come up when beginning to communicate with someone. Let the relationship mature and grow close gradually.
- The Past: This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it! Don’t use the past to blindside or bring up painful memories, and try and set boundaries when it comes to the past while communicating.
- Interruptions: It’s just rude! Interrupting can lead to people feeling disrespected or unimportant. It may lead to the conversation focusing on negative emotions instead of the value of the information being exchanged.
- Overstating: Phrases like “always” and “never” get in the way of conversation and rarely hold truth. Few people can claim they “always” or “never” say or do one thing or another.
- Our Temper: Anger will derail a conversation very quickly. Losing your temper means your emotions are controlling you instead of you controlling your emotions.
- The Silent Treatment: Silence speaks volumes but rarely positive volumes. It can cast a shadow of doubt over the integrity of your conversation.
- Endless Stories: Keep it brief! Be respectful of someone’s time and attention. The world we live in demands our attention, and we should be mindful that someone is using their time to invest in what we have to say.
- Competitiveness: You win or lose together. Always seek out win/win situations for your conversations.
- Belittling/Demeaning: Never use harsh words or actions. It’s disrespectful and leads to unproductive conversations.
What Can We Include?
- Tolerance/Acceptance: Someone is coming to you with their feelings and thoughts, which might not ring true to you, but it does for them. Accept their truth by showing tolerance and acceptance to their truth even if you don’t share in them.
- Plans: Plan to talk again! Communication progresses with repetition. Set a time and date to continue the conversation and develop the relationship further. Determine what will be talked about ahead of time.
- Forgiveness: Not being able to forgive eats away at you and your relationship.
- Courtesy: Be courteous to everyone around you! From strangers to spouses, we should take care to communicate courteously in every relationship.
- Accuracy: Use phrases like “it seems to me” or “sometimes,” and you’ll tend to be more accurate about what you’re describing without overstating.
- Self-Control: Be aware of your feelings and body language and how they might affect what you say and do. Remember to have your emotions and not let your emotions have you.
- Positivity/Outgoing/Unselfishness: When you enter into communication with any relationship in your life, bring an outgoing and open mind that seeks to understand, accept, and seek a winning outcome for everyone involved.
- Conciseness: Share your feelings efficiently and openly without overstating or belittling.
- Equality: You are responsible for your feelings as well as theirs. We are all equal and worthy of each other’s time and appreciation.
- Affirmation: You are in your relationships for a reason. You should remember these reasons when traversing tribulations or dynamics that may seem uncomfortable.
Our ability to communicate healthily gives rise to healthy relationships with our friends, spouses, coworkers, and others as we walk through life. By strengthening our relationships with others using healthy communication, we can enhance our relationship with God.