Principles of Effective Communication
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place – George Bernard Shaw
Communication is the tool we have been given to share our thoughts, concerns and dreams in an unselfish manner with our loved ones. It is the lifeline of any relationship and it is the bridge that connects your heart to the heart of the one you love.
Communication will make you vulnerable, but that cannot be avoided if you want to grow in your relationships. The goal of good communication is to build, to uplift and to empower. So, if you are managing to consistently build your partners self-esteem and self-worth, you are more than likely communicating well with him or her.
If on the other hand, one or both of you are constantly managing to upset and anger the other; your method of communication needs to be changed or adjusted. In truth, we are often somewhere in the middle. So, it is fair to say that we can all do with some improvement when it comes to communication.
Communication is further complicated because men and women we are wired differently. That’s why it is not always wise for women to expect their husbands to communicate with them at the same level of proficiency as other women do. Many men will never be able to hack it because they are not generally wired that way.
Similarly, men should not expect their wives to be satisfied with the kind of surface communication that they have with other men in the office. Ladies generally need more. So, making the time to talk and listen is always a worthwhile investment for a man.
One of the sure signs that a marriage is heading for trouble is when it starts to lack positive, encouraging and affirming communication. The couple either stop speaking altogether; or they speak harshly, disrespectfully or condescendingly to each other at the slightest opportunity.
Typically, one harsh comment by either spouse is followed by a more demeaning comment by the other. And this can go on until the atmosphere between them is thick with anger and revulsion.
Fortunately, this does not have to be the case with you and your loved one, because you are reading this book. You can both learn better and more positive ways to express yourselves. You can learn to make allowances for those differences between you and your spouse and deflect away unhealthy communication ‘bugs’.
BASIC COMMUNICATION PRECEPTS
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said – Peter Drucker
When communication in a marriage is healthy, the marriage is healthy. So, if you want to maintain or build a strong marriage, you must endeavour to grow in your ability to communicate well.
Let’s examine some foundational precepts that you need to know as you learn to increase your ability to communicate better with your spouse.
Communication does not end with Speaking
The circle of good communication covers talking, listening, understanding and acting on what was communicated. Just because you’ve said something doesn’t mean that you effectively communicated with the intended recipient.
A year ago, while I was doing some shopping in Italy, a seller was passionately trying to tell or sell me something, but I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying. He was speaking a language I didn’t understand. He was talking; he was passionate; but he was not communicating.
The same is true in marriage. Your spouse may hear what you said, but not interpret it the way you meant it. That’s why it is important to check that your spouse is on the same page with you during any serious discussion.
One way to do this is to respectfully ask your spouse to repeat to you – in his or her own words – what they believe you’ve been saying. That way, you will be able to correct any misunderstanding and affirm if your communication was successful or otherwise. If you do this, you would avoid tons of conflict.
Communication is not a Science, it’s an Art
The way a person communicates is a composite of upbringing, training, conditioning, personality, circumstance and language comprehension. And, none of these parts are the same for any two people. That’s perhaps the reason why so many of us struggle with understanding others.
Therefore, it’s important to realise that good communication with your spouse will not happen overnight. Even after 27 years of marriage, my wife and I continually work on the way we communicate.
The truth is that I am changing all the time and so is my wife. So we keep learning and adapting and forgiving each other because we are committed to communicating in a healthy way.
For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. (James 3:2.)
The point being, that communication is complex and the results can be very unpredictable. Nevertheless, you can get better at communicating with time, even if you never quite hit perfection. I trust that the principles in the rest of this book will help you do just that.
Constant Miscommunication leads to Severe Consequences
I cannot count how many times my wife and I have said things to each other only to find out later that a miscommunication had occurred. Usually, these lead to hurtful and painful consequences. Sometimes they lead to tears or frustration or even anger.
The reason for this is simple. Words are powerful. They can build and they can destroy. They can encourage and they can discourage. They can motivate and they can cripple. They have the power to heal or to wound. That’s why you cannot afford to be careless with your words. The Bible put this truth like this:
The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. (James 3:5-9.) New Living Translation.
Notice how the text describes the effect of the words we speak to each other: Enormous damage; set on fire; blazing flame of destruction; uncontrollable evil; and full of deadly poison.
In short, God is saying that this one area alone is strong enough to blow a hole the size of England in your marriage. Friends, this is serious.
A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned by them. (Matthew 12:35-37.) New Living Translation.
Bad human communication leaves us less room to grow. – Rowan D. Williams
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TEN KEYS TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION...