One of the most important skills we can have is the ability to communicate effectively. If you communicate well, you do well. Healthy communication is a relational necessity in the family, the workplace and among friends.
There are a number of tips and techniques that are helpful in improving our communication but I want to focus on four bottom-line essentials.
1. Understand the heart connection.
Our tongue is not an independent instrument operating on its own. It is tied directly to the control center of our life – the place of our thoughts, attitudes, motives, and feelings. The Bible calls it the “heart.” It is the central processing unit of life.
Jesus identified the connection between the words we speak and the condition of our inner life.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Matthew 12:34-35
What drives, motivates and determines our words is the condition of our heart. No one can see our inner thoughts and motives, but they get a clear picture by the words we speak. Our character is in the driver’s seat of our communication and steers us toward healthy or unhealthy speech.
Communication improvement requires character improvement.
2. Practice truth-talking.
Truth-telling is the foundation of trust, confidence, integrity, security, and stability. When we dispose of truth, what it supports crumbles and disappears.
Let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor … Ephesians 4:25
If you want relational quality – tell the truth. Don’t tell half-truths, exaggerate, deceive, or remain silent letting a person believe what is not true.
“Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle that fits them all.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
3. Avoid trash-talking
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths …
“Corrupting” means rotten, foul, putrid, worthless, something that decays. It describes rotten fruit and rotting fish. Both are smelly. Foul, rank speech comes in a variety of forms: gossip, complaint, criticism, belittling, profanity, and obscenity to name a few. All this smelly speech hurts others. It injures them.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Words have the power to wound deeply and toxic talk is a killer.
4. Be constructive
We are to choose and use our words to build others up, to strengthen, support and encourage them. Instead of dishonest speech or toxic talk, our communication is to be,
Only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
We build others up when we express gratitude, affirmation, speak with tenderness and kindness, and consider what is beneficial for the other person whether they deserve it or not.
What do your words say about you? What do they show is the condition of your heart? The disposition of your character?
Here is a daily prayer for each of us:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.