Good communication is at the core of all of our relationships. Knowing how to do it effectively and with grace is a skill we need to exercise and practice. To be able to practice good communication skills we need to have some tools lined up and know how to use them! The most important of these tools is love!
To really participate in a healthy communication process, love must be present. [I’m not talking about romantic love, but rather the general love as described by I Corinthians 13: 4-13. (patience, kindness, humbleness, politeness, compromising, tolerance, even-temperedness, forgiveness, longing for justice, honesty, perseverance, faithfulness, hopefulness) ] To effectively participate in the communication process, we must honor the need to preserve the relationship and that is what love is all about. When people feel they are being loved and cared for, their feelings are being honored and their willingness to be open in the communication process will be more apt to be enjoyed by all.
• Patience – Good communication is based on mutual patience – with all parties being willing to listen without interrupting or interjecting their opinions and (this is key) really listening. To really listen, you must put your thoughts on hold and be patiently in the moment – processing the other’s words – not formulating your response before they are finished speaking.
• Kindness – Use tact in communicating and let kindness be the yardstick which you use to measure your words. It is far too common, when we begin to feel frustrated or threatened, when our words are used as weapons to drive our agenda. If you feel a defensiveness bubbling up inside of you, employ your filter of kindness instead. This will help to keep the lines of communication open and flowing. Defensiveness shuts down the communication process – almost immediately.
• Humbleness– Accept the fact that you can’t read the other people’s minds – no one is that talented. No one can know what someone else means unless there is listening and the willingness to ask for clarification, if needed. On top of the mind reading assumption, sometimes communicators risk taking themselves too seriously. Lighten up! Employ humor or light-heartedness. Laughter releases brain chemicals which promotes a sense of contentment. Just make sure that you are laughing with someone (or at yourself) and not at someone else!
• Politeness – Be polite. As my father used to say…”if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” Although I think sometimes the message may not be a nice message – it can always be delivered in a polite way. (See Patience and Kindness above!)
• Compromising – As wonderful as you are…and you are…you are not the center of the universe! There are other people with other opinions and sometimes they may be right and you may be wrong. Use the filter of empathy when communicating with others. What must it be like to walk in their shoes? Consider this always in communicating, giving it equal weight to your shoes!
• Tolerance – Exercise open-mindedness in all of your exchanges. Understand that all people have their own Lenses of Life through which they view the world and their experiences. Accept the fact that they do not view the world through your lenses – theirs are a different. As a result, we all come to the table of communication with a different point of view. Restraining from making judgments about another’s position, will keep us focused on listening which will then keep the conversation flowing.
• Even-Temperedness – See all of the above! If we focus on preserving the relationship, it is much easier to understand the importance of being even-tempered. If we lose our temper, then we have just become defensive and effective communication has shut-down.
• Forgiveness – By exercising forgiveness, we are focused on preserving the relationship and honoring the other person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we are saying that it is okay to be a doormat. Rather, it suggests that the relationship is more important than preserving my ego. As a result, I will take the position of preservation rather than winning.
• Seeking Justice – When relationship preservation is the goal, then fairness is the focus. Not so much on demanding to be treated fairly, but rather treating other people in a fair and kind way. This also means setting good and healthy boundaries. Boundaries are not only necessary, but are healthy when employed appropriately.
• Honesty – Good communication is built on mutual respect, and respect depends on honesty. Focus on what is true (what are the facts based on your perception) and then look at how you feel about the facts. By focusing less on assuming or accusing another of their intention, look to what you know to be true. If you want to be productive in the dance of communication, be honest and straightforward from the start with yourself and with others.
• Perseverance – To persistently work at relationship preservation will always keep the lines of communication open. Never give up the focus on this goal and the chance that communication will continue to flow is good.
• Faithfulness – When desiring good communication flow, faithfulness must be exercised. Faithfulness to values, truth, integrity, the preservation of relationship, etc. When remaining faithful to all that is mentioned above, good communication can be enjoyed and relationships can be preserved.
• Hopefulness – Remain hopeful to the process of communication. When done correctly and focused on love, it brings richness to life. It is a process that can work when we practice, practice, practice…rehearse, know yourself and understand your lenses of life, empathize and above all else, love.