5 Things You Can Do TODAY to Improve Your Communication!

“Okay.”

“I don’t care.”

“Whatever.”

Have you ever been on the receiving end of these text messages and wondered what the tone was? The phrase “I don’t care” could be a light-hearted way to concede to the preference of another, but it could also be a passive-aggressive way to respond to a question. All of this brings up an important observation:

Communication is tricky. And our intentions do not always produce the outcomes we desire.

The first piece of advice is simply this… let’s not leave important conversations to text messages!

Here are 5 things you can ask yourself to improve your communication today! (These will apply to any and all relationships you have, though in different ways.)

1) Is this True?

Truth should be the basis and first tier we think through before processing if something should be said. We need to be working with facts, not fiction.

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ. (Ephesians 4:15, NLT)

If it’s not true, then it does not need to be said, full stop! Yet, truth is not the final stop in discerning the best way to communicate with care.

2) Is this Helpful?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

Did you catch that? The communication filter given to us in Ephesians 4:29 is asking the two-fold question: “Does this build others up?” And, similarly, “Is this beneficial?” If not, our talk might be labeled as “unwholesome.”

The language of “building up” in the New Testament is a metaphor to see others as buildings under construction. We have the power to come into each other’s construction site and fortify and edify, or fracture and tear down. Words are that powerful! And that’s why it’s imperative that our communication should be marked with helpful words. That’s why even constructive feedback is just that, constructive, it seeks to build upward, not tear down.

3) Is this Immediate?

In other words, is this a “now” or “not yet” conversation? Timing is key in a lot of things. For example, if you come home from a busy and/or stressful day of work and your spouse meets you at the door with a personal critique, well, it might not be received in the best manner. Why? Because our frame of mind affects how we receive communication. The same respect should go for how we communicate. When we want to address something, even if it is true and even if it is helpful, we ought to consider the immediacy and timing of it.

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! (Proverbs 15:23, NLT)

The best thing might be to create a literal or mental note of it and wait for a better-timed moment to talk about certain things. 3 follow-up questions to help you here: Am I the right person to say this? Is this the right time to say it? Is this the right place to say it? Walk through these and you’ll be walking in far more wisdom than those who are too eager to say what they want to say when they want to say it.

4) Is this Necessary?

This one takes a lot of discernment. The question of necessity is a question of weightiness or importance. This is not to say that we disregard saying what we are feeling or even our personal preferences. Rather, this is about taking into account the relational capital we have with someone. Sharing a personal preference in how your wishes could be better respected or how the relationship could be improved will likely be well received if talking to a friend of 5+ years. However, there are times we might need to bite our tongue and even forfeit certain personal preferences in a new or fragile relationship, whether that be with a friend or even a colleague. When you consider the relational capital you have with the person, you’ll better determine the necessity of what needs to be said.

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words. (Proverbs 15:28, NLT)

5) Is this Kind?

Having considered the truth, helpfulness, immediacy, and necessity of your message, if it is still worth sharing, then kindness is the manner that will package your message together. We can all think of the people in our lives who are not very kind with how they speak. Maybe their words are too brash, too abrasive, or too blunt. Whatever the case, I’m sure you have walked away wishing they were more kind. Granted, what they said may have been true (see point 1), it might have even been helpful, and so on, but if it was not kind, then the message gets lost. If the message is like a package, it is not received like a gift, but like a brick; it does not benefit, it bruises.

Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (Proverbs 16:24, NLT)

Honey for the soul? Yes, please! That’s what our words can be. But this takes a willingness to improve how we communicate, from what we say, to when we say it, to how we say it.

Make no mistake about it, there are times when tough conversations need to be had. And no matter how much tact or even if you have a graduate degree in communications, it still is hard. Yet, in all this we can seek to reflect Jesus in our communication skills. After all, Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Or to paraphrase the bookends of our 5 insights, Jesus speaks what is true, kind, and everything in between!

If you haven’t noticed, our 5 insights form an acronym: T.H.I.N.K.

Here we invite you to T.H.I.N.K. before you speak!

 

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