Good communication is said to be a lifeline to the health of a relationship.
I get asked often what the key components to having healthy relationships and without hesitation I state: Trust, Honesty, Respect, Accountability and Communication. I truly believe you can NOT have one without the other. But there are times in relationships that one of the five areas above may be stronger than others. All 5 topics are of equal importance but I will concentrate on Communication in this article because I believe it to be the strongest area because communication can make or break a relationship!
What does this mean? How can I apply it to my daily life? My hope is you will pull a tool from this article that you can apply in any relationship, especially if LOVE is involved. Should I tell them, should I not tell them…can be one of the many thoughts that run through your head on what to say and not say? For most people have a filter which allows certain statements to be said and understood, such as common phrases, right and wrong. However many have filters based upon fear as they are afraid to say certain things or afraid of what others might say in response. But the Bible clearly gives us direction in James 1:19 on how to communicate with our peers, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
The best way to communicate is to make sure what comes from our mouths is pure and to do this you have to be aware of what’s in your heart. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If your heart is filled with hate, pain and aggression from a past or current relationship, nothing will stop it from coming out no matter how hard you try. So what can you do to build a foundation of Great communication?
1.Set the tone– Communication is a 2-way street and requires at least two people to actively engage themselves in talking, listening, interpreting and repeating what they heard. You want to get something off of your chest, or just express some gratitude for them in your life, then set the tone. Don’t just walk in the room when they are busy doing tasks and just start talking or yelling because they probably will not be prepared to respond how you desire. Simply just saying, “Baby I really would like to talk to you about something on my heart, is now a good time? Or “Can I tell you something…, I would really appreciate you helping with…” Some of you may be thinking who talks like that? People who want to work on their communication skills do! It takes practice, just as it would if you were learning something new. Yelling, cursing and threatening are not effective ways to set the tone to communicate, they actually do the opposite to what you desire, but they tend to come easy for a lot of people because it’s all they know. Body language and facial expressions are integral pieces to effective communication. We all know how we should not use poor body language or facial expressions and I can honestly say for most people they either a) Use it on purpose to cause a reaction or b) It has become a part of their natural behavior because they do it so much. Neither are excuses thus you have to remember you CAN control it. Lastly, simply being quiet and not verbally responding is meaningless when your body language is communicating disdain, anger or hatred toward them. This I am guilty of because it was a coping skill for me growing up, but it’s not fair to my husband or friends to suffer through bad habits I haven’t gotten rid of. I remind myself of Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” As a side note, if you have kids, always remember you set the tone to how they will communicate!
2. TRY- Constantly examine your communication skills by trying different methods with your partner or loved one. And I must emphasize that poor communication will not change overnight or after one try. Also be careful to not expect the response you desire from them as this sets them up for failure. Instead as they are trying to be better, say “Thank You” and be open to trying again and stating other ways you are able to receive what they are communicating to you. When communicating through email and text messaging understand that items you want to discuss should also be addressed face-to-face. Trying also requires you to listen! Listening means remaining silent, and actually listening to what the other person has to say, repeating back to them in your own words what they have said (“So you are saying”…). Trying to phrase your response while they are talking or interrupting them to make a point is disrespectful and should be avoided! One of the worst things I have heard from those working on communication in their relationship is: “Why should I try anymore” and I often respond, “Your heart desires will propel you to make sacrifices, communication skills included.” We do what we want as a people, thus making adjustments to improve behaviors will be lead by a desire for your partner or loved one to be happy.
3. Don’t make excuses for your communication verbal and nonverbal infractions- You said or did it, thus you cannot take it back! The person may accept your apology, but they will never forget the hurt and pain your communication caused. I must emphasize that the lack of communication and avoidance causes the same hurt and pain! Scripture tells us why it is hard for us to forget poor communication in Proverbs 12:18 “But Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Unfortunately it’s easy to remember all the bad, detail by detail, yet it takes time to think of all the good therefore believing that communication is no different.
Is this article a summation of the best way to establish a foundation on communication, probably not but it is one way to establish communication with your partner or loved one? Keith Ferrazzi stated in his book “Never Eat Alone”, “I believe that every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you.” Communicating makes you vulnerable to the other person but if they are of importance to you, being vulnerable comes with the territory. If none of these tools assist you in improving your communication skills, seek help by a life coach, therapist/counselor or someone who has the skills to teach you how to communicate hands on. With healthy communication skills in place, solving life’s’ problems can be more manageable and will bring any couple, family or friend closer.” Remember every day you HAVE TO TRY!