Communication is hard.
It took me a solid four minutes to settle on that first sentence. I typed a few initial sentences out only to highlight and delete them seconds later. I even went back and changed a few words in that previous sentence before writing this one. And now I am writing this sentence in an attempt to explain to you just how difficult good communication can be.
Clear and helpful communication takes times and effort.
We all have a lot of words floating around in our heads. And most of us, are able to put those words together into a coherent string of sentences in order to communicate a specific point or idea. The problem, however, is that sometimes what we say is not what we mean. And what people hear is not always what was intended.
Years ago, I was with some friends in a tea shop in Prague. There was a wide variety of loose leaf teas on display behind the counter and, after deliberation, I had made up my mind, I wanted the Early Grey. I walked up to the clerk, who still had not said one word to my friends and me, and I began to order.
But at the exact moment I opened my mouth I realized three things.
First, I wasn’t actually sure how to order loose leaf tea. Did I order a container? A bag? What wording should I use?
Second, I didn’t know if the clerk spoke English or not. Should I try to speak Czech and make a fool out of myself?
Third, if I did make a fool out of myself I knew my friends would mercilessly make fun of me.
I panicked. What I wanted to communicate was… “excuse me, do you speak English? If so, I would like to purchase some tea. However, I am unsure of how it comes packaged. Can you please assist me?”
What actually came out of my mouth was, “Um, how do I tea?”
The clerk looked at me strangely, and I quickly recovered with, “I’m so sorry. Do you speak English?”
Her response, “Yes. Do you?”
Now, that’s a funny example of bad communication, but at that moment there wasn’t all that much at stake. However, there is always something at stake when we communicate with spouses, our children, friends, co-workers, and bosses.
It is important for us to communicate well, especially when there is a problem or frustration that needs to be addressed. When we have a difficulty with someone, we show that we care about them by being conscientious with our communication.
So here are four principles of communication that can be found in the Bible. I must state that these initial principles or rules are not original with me. I simply am passing on what I have learned from others, and hopefully, you can pass it on as well.
Four Principles of Communication
Found in Ephesians 4:25-32
1- Be Honest -found in verse 25
There are three ways that this rule can be broken:
An outright lie -Yes, this includes “white” lies.
Deception -Not telling the whole truth or intentionally misleading.
Avoidance -Not talking about the issue because it is hard to deal with.
2- Keep Current -found in verse 26
Deal with the issue or situation immediately, or at least as soon as feasibly possible. Stop what you are doing and devote time to figuring it out. Don’t let things fester.
3- Attack the Problem, Not the Person -found in verse 29
Attacking the person gets you off topic and brings up other issues you haven’t yet dealt with. Usually, you end up saying something out of emotion that you really don’t mean. Also, avoid using absolutes. “You always…” “You never…” Absolutes normally are untrue and unfair.
4- Act Biblically- Don’t React -found in verses 31-32
Act in a way that honors God and the other person. Avoid reacting to situations. Think through the situation, then act in a way that is consistent with how God has called you to live.