Have you ever seen anyone who speaks at others, but rarely with them? Such people may say many words, but they often miss the mark - no lasting or impactful message is received. It is as if they are shooting a gun, or at times a machine gun, but never taking the time to take aim. Let's take a moment and unpack a verse of Scripture that can really help us understand how to best communicate.
"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak ..." (James 1:19) If we are going to communicate well with anyone, we are going need to practice both principles.
Listening: We have three options when it comes to listening.
- We could not listen to others, and simply say whatever is on our minds. This is a most selfish way to communicate. This is communicating for our own purposes, and taking others conversationally captive to get or experience what we want. Some people do this all the time, but never realize it - they are too busy talking to notice whether others are participating or not.
- We could also be slow to listen. This is a kind of half-hearted listening. We might be distracted by TV, another conversation, or our own thoughts. We are listening, but not very well. This kind of listening is very unsatisfying; nuances and meanings are missed and neither party is very satisfied. We cannot multi-task and listen well.
- We need to be quick to listen. This means that we give ourselves to the task of listening and understanding the other person. Good listening is hard work; it requires discipline, and active, probing questions. This is a positive expression of love to others. When you listen well to others, they feel cared for and built up.
Speaking: We have three options in the area of speaking.
- We could not speak to others in a passive or lazy way. Listening, without speaking, is not real communication. It puts all the responsibility of the conversation on the other person. Mutual communication requires two people listening and speaking with each other.
- We could also be quick to speak. This is referring to times when we speak before we have understood what is needed or best. We will rarely be helpful to others if we don't take the time first to understand what they want.
- We need to be slow to speak. We need to make sure we understand what is needed, we need to make sure that what we have to say is worth saying and said in a way that is helpful. This requires consideration - and many times prayer.
When you relate with someone who takes the ways of God seriously, who is quick to listen and slow to speak, you will be encouraged and built up (even when being challenged or corrected). When you communicate this way with others, they will be blessed.
Learning to Communicate with you,