When visiting the St. Louis Zoo, we decided to see the ray exhibit. When walking through the line to enter, they were speaking to us about how to pet them and especially that we need to take any kind of jewelry off. When we got closer, there were signs letting us know that we needed to take off our jewelry. Getting ready to enter there was a lady asking us to do two things which were, 1) washing our hands up to our elbows, and 2) … yup, taking off jewelry. They not only communicated but did it effectively.
In an age of ever evolving communication mediums, we are communicating less. I remember waking up one morning and thinking to myself trying to remember the last time I wrote a hand-written letter. There’s something about seeing a person’s handwriting that is comforting. Probably not in just the idea that they are conveying a message but that it was important enough to take the time to put so much effort into it. (Now that I say it, I should probably do it again.)
Why is communication so valuable?
We are relational people. We are also alive and, therefore, thinkers. To quote Descartes, “I think therefore I am.” Putting those two ideas together, you can see why communication is absolutely crucial for our success together. We have great ideas. We also have really bad ones. Communication is the only way to know, grow and learn which kind of idea or thought it is. If you don’t communicate well, then it’s impossible to know which is which.
Listed below are some helpful ideas when it comes to communication
- Pause before you respond
- Be trustworthy and honest or your communication will be worthless
- Don’t rush / Don’t monopolize time
- Adapt your ideas to others
- I talk to Keely much differently than I talk with a co-worker because they think and act differently. Therefore, you must evaluate how to maximize your effectiveness when talking to different kinds of people.
- Stay in the moment – don’t get distracted or you will forget what is being communicated
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues – both theirs and yours
- Intend to understand
- Not everyone is like you and there may come a point at which you agree to disagree, but being intent on trying to understand the other person will give you much more insight into how to continue communicating
- Be patient and open-minded
- Follow up on communication – repeat main points if necessary
- Ask for feedback
Where does God fit in?
Keely and I are studying the book of James right now and really enjoying it. There is one specific place that I can think of that pertains to this topic beautifully, which is in chap. 1, verse 19. “My brothers, take note of this; everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Can you imagine the level of effectiveness that would happen if we followed that advice. Christ was known to preach, but he was also known to give people the answers they needed. Sometimes that took the form of a question and other times it was a straight answer. Either way, he looked to make a difference by listening first and then speaking.
What do I do now?
- Focus on communicating using the above suggestions
- Focus on the relationship of the one you are communicating with
- Showing an actual interest in what the person is saying will help with the communication process
- Repeat until it becomes habit