Effective communications and interpersonal relationships:
Effective communication skills is underrated but so important in achieving healthy interpersonal relationships. In fact, so many people seek couples therapy and marriage counseling because they sometimes feel so misunderstood by the other. How do we better communicate with the ones we love?
Essential aspects of effective communication:
How do you ensure that your loved ones feel heard and listened to? How can you also make sure to express your feelings without coming across too aggressive or accusatory? Here are some tips to establish effective communication with your loved ones:
- Active listening: Active listening is different from passive listening. In passive listening, you are listening without reacting or responding similar to when you are watching television. In active listening, you are listening to understand. You are concentrating in order to remember information in order to engage. You are providing non-verbal cues such as nodding and making eye contact, as well as providing feedback to the speaker while taking care to not interrupt the speaker.
- “I” statements: An “I” statement is a sentence starting with the word “I” that tells another person how you are feeling, or what you are thinking in a clear, direct, and constructive way. An “I” statement empowers you to express your thoughts, feelings, and concerns without sounding accusatory or blaming others. The whole purpose of an “I” statement is to get your point across without causing the listener to go on defensive mode and have the entire conversation shut down.
- Reflecting: Reflecting is when you paraphrase and restate the main points and feelings of the person you are listening to. Reflecting validates the person’s feeling by showing that you get it. Reflecting also encourages more sharing because the person can trust that you are listening. Reflecting also does not involve making and sharing snap judgments about what the speaker is saying or brushing it off and jumping to a new conversation – instead, it encourages the speaker to share more and elaborate further on their ideas. If you pick up on the emotion in the person’s voice or body language, include that in your reflection. Reflecting is usually somewhere in between a statement and a question where you are restating what the other person is saying, but you’re seeking confirmation from them. Try starting your reflection with: “I hear you saying…” or “It sounds like you are feeling…”
- Seeking a deeper connection: You can create a deeper connection with who you are listening to by asking questions that encourage them to share more: “Can you tell me more about that?” or “What do you mean by that?” and “Can you tell me an example of that?” are some questions that you can ask. You can seek a deeper connection with who you are listening to with body language (leaning and facing towards the person to show them you are focused and listening to them), putting away your phone and seeking a quiet space to speak more privately without distractions, and making sure to nod and ask questions.
Effective communication tips from the Bible:
The Bible itself has a great deal of tips on how to be an effective listener and communicator with those around you:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:6
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. – Proverbs 15: 1-2
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
The Bible also reminds us that our words can build others up or can turn into a weapon used to hurt others:
But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. – James 3:8
The Bible emphasizes effective communication for the following reasons:
- to empower us to be kind and patient with others
- to have loving relationships
- to be an agent of God’s blessing to those around us
In order to be an agent and messenger of God’s blessing to those around us, we need to be an effective communicator and realize how powerful words can be.
Sharing the good news with others:
We are empowered to share the good news with others. Jesus Christ solved the fundamental spiritual problem of the original sin by dying on the cross. In one fell swoop, His sacrifice solved the problem of our separation from God caused by the original sin and being captives of Satan. We are now blessed with the gift of salvation and can embrace the new identity as children of God. We have the privilege and blessing of communicating with God on a personal level and are equipped with the power of prayer to communicate with God and enjoy His presence intimately.
God wants us to foster a personal relationship with Him but He also wants us to share the good news with those around us with delight and tell others about our love for Him. Furthermore, God wants us to be kind with one another and love one another. Effective communication empowers us to do this. When you know who you really are in the Lord, we will want to understand other people with clarity and compassion, develop the skill for listening and communing with others around you, and establish good connections, non-superficial friendships, and unwavering trust. The result is a flourishing community.
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