<<relating to others>>
Humans flourish through interaction, leading to the formation and maintenance of relationships as ‘information’ is given and received. This involves visual, audible, verbal, non-verbal and written communication whereby thoughts, ideas, feelings and knowledge are shared. Body language is a non-verbal form of communication involving stance, gestures and telltale expressions that may convey more ‘truthful information’ than if the words spoken are not the truth. The Bible instructs us to, "Speak the truth in love" (Eph 4:15). While sometimes it is best not to speak, love is not to be a substitute for the truth if it needs to be shared. The ability to express ourselves clearly, crisply and with confidence is crucial in life and promotes a harmonious environment that encourages productivity, creativity and responsibility.
Sin blights or prevents effective communication with our fellow humans and God Himself, with much of modern day interaction being ambiguous, rude, limited, wordy or inaccurate instead of being clear, courteous, complete, concise and correct. To be of lasting value it should be convincing enough to bring about change or meet the intended aim for those receiving it. As defective communication is the biggest hindrance to good interpersonal relations and teamwork there should be confirmation that the exchange of ideas has been received and understood with important information repeated several times. The more times something is relayed verbally, between different people the greater the chance of distortion, so endeavour to get or give the message first hand.
Effective communication involves dialogue – a two-way conversation so if something is not clear, the hearer can ask questions to gain clarification. Questions only requiring a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer don’t invite participation from a withdrawn person while ‘Who, What, Why, When, Where, How’ questions help stimulate interaction as do those that invite opinions on various issues. Listening is the greatest part of effective communication, and through it, understanding is gained. Work at drawing out the best in others and uplifting their spirits, as we don’t know the unspoken heartaches and burdens they carry. Even a smile communicates love and acceptance.
Communication is the foundation of any relationship – natural or spiritual
discovering we are not alone and can draw hope from others who are learning how God can meet them in their experience too. As we move from superficiality to open, honest and effective interaction, we discover the power of communication and will give priority to meaningful, constructive conversation, relieved that others will not retreat from us, once they know who we are.
Meaningful relating often breaks down under the pressure of modern lifestyles, as many stressed people either withdraw into isolation or respond in criticism resulting in misunderstanding, ill feelings and conflict. The Bible’s message is “Let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful...benefiting those who listen” (Eph 4:29; Col 3:8). Keep your words sweet – you may have to eat them! We are accountable to God for all the careless words we speak (Mt 12:36,37).
Encouragement, correction and instructions all need to be relevant and understandable to maintain healthy connection with friends and family as friction, pressure and hassles can easily erode what we once had and enjoyed.
God created and chose to converse with people, as evidenced in the Garden of Eden (Gen 1:28-30, 2:16,17, 3:8-19). Although this intimate relationship changed after sin entered the world, God continues to reach out to mankind, yet our sensitivity towards God has been seriously impaired, with our “minds being blinded” to the truth (2 Cor 4:4). “May the eyes of your heart be enlightened…” as many times we fail to hear (and respond appropriately) to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us in our conscience (Eph 1:18). Repeatedly the Bible says, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…” meaning to listen carefully and consider what is being said.
The Bible gives general guidance for us to live by. However, specific direction comes from the Holy Spirit who lives within each believer and wants to guide us into all truth (Jn 16:13; 1 Cor 6:19). Remember whatever the Spirit says will agree with the principles of the Bible; He will never contradict the written values and ethics of Scripture. For our lives to be successful it is essential to read, meditate (think over), speak and do what the Bible says (Josh 1:8; Jas 1:22). Besides our attention to the Bible, to be truly effective in God’s Kingdom, we need to walk in harmony with the Spirit, hearing and obeying what He tells us. Jesus was always “about His Father’s business” because He was in a constant, close relationship through open communication (Jn 8:29). The whole purpose of His coming to earth was to be the mediator between God and humanity – that is, effecting clear communication.