I believe that communication is the basis for life. When we learn to connect with other human beings in meaningful conversations to gain mutual understanding, life is beautiful. When our conversations turn into one-sided jab sessions to win, the result is not so beautiful. This holds true in marriage, friendships, and in work, church, or community contexts. So how do we improve our communication skills so we can nurture rich, satisfying relationships?
Power Principle #1:
Put Jesus in the Middle
In a recent leaders training session, we were discussing the Matthew 18 model for addressing conflict. One of the ladies shared a story about being in a heated discussion in a car. Just before things turned ugly, she rolled down the window. The other person asked, “Why did you do that?” She replied, “I thought we could let Jesus in. If He sits in the middle, maybe we will treat each other differently.” They pulled off the road and decided to ask Jesus to come in the middle.
Imagine what could happen if we let Jesus into the middle of every conversation we have: with our spouse, with the rude salesperson, or with someone who has hurt us. This is one way we could live out Matthew 8:33:
Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added unto you.
Righteousness is translated many times in the Amplified Bible as conforming to His way of being and doing right. Once we come into a real relationship with God and accept the gift of salvation provided by Jesus’ sacrifice, death, and resurrection, our righteousness is a free gift that we receive by faith. Our position as sons and daughters is never in question. This is God’s part. We then begin the process of incorporating this gift of righteousness, His way of being and doing right, into our daily living. This is our part.
Note: On our website, we have a CD single called Balancing Grace and Faith that helps people understand what is God’s part and what is our part in our relationship and how to keep faith and grace in balance.
When we feel jealousy, offense, or anger rising, we can choose to align our motivation and words with His nature so our relationships will be more enjoyable and meaningful. When we see others as gifts and treasures like God does, we will treat one another with dignity and value which will shift the tone of every conversation.
Power Principle #2:
Incorporate Active Listening
Active listening is the conscious and deliberate act of listening to another person with the goal of hearing and comprehending the intended meaning of the words spoken. Using this tool closes communication gaps in our personal and business lives. When we are not getting our message across or sense frustration in someone else, we can take out the tool of active listening and easily get back on track.
Active listening helps us slow down
and work toward mutual understanding.
The active listening method is based on consciously tuning your ears to listen to what the other person is conveying and summarizing the message back to them. Feeling heard communicates value, changes the atmosphere, and helps to lower the defenses of both people.
The active listening process is simple. One person starts out as the speaker. The listener focuses on hearing the speaker’s perspective and meaning. The listener paraphrases what they have heard the speaker say. The speaker continues to give the listener more details until the speaker’s message becomes clearly understood.
See the Communicate and Connect chapter
In the Incredible Life Makeover for more
details on active listening.
Click here: Available at the New Life for Today Store
After the first person’s point of view has successfully been heard, the listener and the speaker switch roles. The process repeats itself until the second person’s point of view has also been fully communicated. Solutions and better relationships will usually develop over time when both people cooperate to be heard and to understand by truly listening.
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