By Rob Furlong
Last month we spoke about becoming better listeners but as I have reflected on that, it has occurred to me that we should also address the other side of the equation: becoming a better communicator!
In fact, being a good communicator is just as important as being a good listener.
To illustrate this, read the sentence below and see what comes to your mind – GODISNOWHERE!
Look closely and you will see that this can be read as either "God is nowhere!" or "God is now here!"
Exactly the same words with two entirely different meanings and the way in which you perceive them is not purely dependent on your own bias but also on the way in which the author has chosen to communicate the message.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to be a good listener but having the person you are speaking with being unclear or vague about what they are saying.
Here are some things I have found that help me to communicate more clearly.
Choose words carefully.
We all know the power that words have and we have all been on the receiving end of cutting statements that were designed to (and succeeded in) hurting us deeply.
However, there are times when we intend to say something but inadvertently caused the listener emotional pain simply because we used the wrong word.
Think of a simple phrase like, "You're being really stupid!"
Perhaps what the person is doing or saying is foolish, but the mere use of the word "stupid" may also suggest to them that you think they are worthless, especially if they were raised in a home where they were constantly told they were dumb.
A better way to say it might be to ask, "Do you think that is wise?"
The book of Proverbs constantly encourages us to choose our words carefully: "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances" is good, practical advice on communicating carefully.
peopleThink carefully before you speak.
This is closely allied with the advice above and it is an encouragement for us to not say simply the first thought or response that comes into our heads.
Proverbs reminds us that, "Reckless words pierce like the sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
When I take the time to stop and think before I speak, I find that I am able to convey my meaning in a way that is both clear and life giving.
Take time to fill in the gaps.
Sometimes I find myself leaving out important pieces of information in a conversation, either because I am excited and engaged about the discussion or because I am so familiar with the subject I neglect to "fill in the blanks!"
I have discovered however, that if I do not take the time to fill in these blanks then the listener will do it for me – and not always with a desirable outcome!
Speech with gaps is lazy speech – don't keep people second guessing you in your communication!
Tell it straightforwardly.
If you have a concern or a compliment, then be honest and loving in the way you express it.
A relative of mine had a habit of saying, "You can go off people you know!" when you did something that displeased them.
The hint conveyed to the perpetrator rarely worked though.
Far better to be honest and straightforward with people when we are sharing our desires, compliments, concerns or joys instead of leaving them with thinking, "I know there was a message in there for me, but I am not quite sure what it was!"
Good listening and clear communication grows as we break out of old habits and develop fresh, positive ones by making a few simple changes.
It seems pretty clear to me!•