Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Don't Speak and Brush

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2007 at 8:49 am

ToothbrushI have one of those electric toothbrushes. It’s actually a very nice one. An odd wedding gift, but an expected one when you invite dentists to your wedding. The other day, I thought it would be a good idea to talk to my wife while using my odd wedding gift. After mumbling through what I thought was a very clear and concise sentence, I looked up to see my wife just staring at me, wondering whether to laugh at my ridiculous attempt at communication or to be annoyed that I didn’t think it necessary to stop brushing before talking to her.

I think this is a common attitude to have while we communicate with others; we tend to think we are being clear but it’s really coming across as gibberish. When we’re on the receiving side of things we take that gibberish and try to translate it into what we, again, think we heard. How many conflicts in relationships start this way?

What can we do?

  1. Stop. Think. Don’t worry about a pause in the conversation, think about what you’re going to say. Try to put yourself in the other person’s position of hearing what you are going to say. Does it make sense in the context of the conversation?

    Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
    James 1:19

  2. Be short in speech. When conversing, typically the more words you use, the worse off you are. People tend not to process a lot of words when listening, they reserve this for their reading. So, try to cut out unnecessary words and be brief. Get to your point quickly.

    When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
    Proverbs 10:19

  3. Don’t assume anything. This always leads to trouble on the receiving end. Don’t assume that someone really meant something other than what they really said. Take the time to really understand what someone has just said rather than jumping to conclusions, which brings up the next point.

    Who is like the wise?
    And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
    Ecclesiastes 8:1

  4. Ask questions. This is key. If something doesn’t make sense, ask them about it, don’t assume (see point #3). Asking questions shows the other person that you are interested in what they have to say and that you need some help in clarifying things. I’ve never met a person who didn’t love being asked questions.

    It is the glory of God to conceal things,
    but the glory of kings is to search things out.
    Proverbs 25:2

  5. Avoid controversy. Debate is fun and it occasionally has its place. But let’s be honest, most normal conversations don’t need to turn into a debate so avoid it. The easiest way to do this is to avoid statements that cause the other to put up their defenses. People hear certain strong statements and immediately tune-out and begin thinking how they can defend themselves. Instead of using strong statements, pose them in question form. This way you still learn what you wanted to learn from the other person and it doesn’t make them feel like they have to defend themselves. People would rather answer a question than defend their case.

    Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil
    2 Timothy 2:23-24

  6. Be encouraging. This is key…also. What would a discussion look like if both sides were encouraging in what they said? What would an argument look like if both sides were encouraging in what they said? This should be our focus in our communication, to encourage one another. People can get enough discouragement from the world, they don’t need anymore from us.

    Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
    1 Thessalonians 5:11

Now it’s your turn, what did I leave off this list? Or what are some lessons you’ve learned from bad conversations in the past?