Posts Tagged ‘Communication’


WATCH YOUR MOUTH!

Use your words to build people up.  Ephesians 4:29 “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.”

When I was in college the janitorial company I worked for was hired to tear down a wall in an apartment and then clean it up.  I had never done anything like that before.  I didn’t know how to start so I asked supervisor for instructions.  He said, take this sledge hammer and hit this wall until there is nothing left to hit.  I had more fun that day that is lawful in the state of Mississippi!  It’s fun to tear things down. 

Sometimes with our words it’s like a sledgehammer, no planning, no thinking.  We swing away and all of a sudden we look around and all we’ve got is a pile of rubble, relational rubble.  When you just swing away with your words and tear people down inevitably your relationships are going to suffer.  Words are the single most important tool given to man by God.  Without a doubt! 

One of the reasons we’re not constructive with our words is we don’t realize how powerful this tool is, our mouth.  We say things without thinking.  People remember them.  The things people have said to you in a thoughtless way it may have been as far back as grade school or college or when you first started working.  You still remember some of those things.  That’s how powerful words are.  So when it comes to your mouth, think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

Here are directions for the use of a power tool I bought several years ago. I was struck by how it related to the use of another power tool that God has given us – our mouth. 

  • Know your power tool.
  • Keep guards in place.
  • Be careful around children.
  • Store idle tools when not in use.
  • Don’t over reach
  • Never use in an explosive atmosphere.

It fits how we are to use this mouth which is an incredible tool to build people up.

How can I start using it more carefully so instead of destroying with it, I’m building and constructing relationships with it? 

1.  Stop excusing.  Stop saying, “I didn’t really mean to say that.”  or “It’s just that blood sugar dip before lunch.  That’s all it was.”  Stop excusing and realize that what you say is impacting everybody around you.         

2.  Talk less.  If it’s a power tool – you don’t have to use it as much.  Talk less.  One of the reasons we get in trouble is we just talk too much sometimes.  We talk before we think.  We need to talk less and…

 3.  Listen more.  If I listen more I can understand people’s needs.  One of the small lessons of life that makes an incredible impact on the way you and I use our words. 

 4.  Start building.  Think first of all, “what do they need?”  How can I use a word of encouragement to build them up?  How can I use a word of challenge to make a difference in their life?  How can I use my words to build the people that I love the most?

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Getting Real

How do we end this relationship damaging game?

1. Decide that being “real” with others is more productive than being “nice.”

It sounds simple, but it’s not. I’m talking about making a change in a basic value that many of us have held our entire lives. Many of us believe that “niceness” is what people really want from us.

Now, it is true that almost everyone enjoys being around people who are pleasant. But, as Proverbs 28:23 puts it:

In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery. Proverbs 28:23 [NLT]

In other words, people would prefer the truth. In other words, “it might be hard, I might even get mad, but please for the sake of our relationship, tell me how I’m doing with you. That’s the only way I can ever improve.”

2. Attempt to handle conflict in a biblical manner.

What is the biblical mandate for dealing with conflict? Jesus said “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 [NIV]

In other words, don’t wait for the other person to take the initiative in resolving things. And get this – resolving things is even more important that worshiping God. If you come to church and there is someone here that you are out of whack with … deal with them first, then deal with God. Pretty radical, but that’s what Jesus is saying here.

Jesus also said there is a sequence for dealing with conflict:

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along [that’s when you get to ask them to pray – AFTER you go on your own first, not before], so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17 [NIV]

3. Get comfortable saying these three phrases:

“I’m angry.”

But don’t stop there, because one of the traps of the Hide and Seek game is assuming that you can read the minds of other people. So, you need to get comfortable saying …

“Can you help me understand?”

I’m angry, but I want to hear your side of the deal, too. Maybe there is something I am missing.

“I forgive you.”

I’m talking about real and true forgiveness, not merely saying “it’s OK” when it’s not.

Real and true forgiveness is always painful. Real forgiveness requires confronting another person with the fact that they did you wrong, that it hurt you and that you didn’t like it … but that you have accepted the pain and are choosing to let it go. It costs you something – pain – but it gains you something – peace of mind and the opportunity for a renewed relationship.

4. Be a God pleaser before being a man pleaser.

No matter how nice you are you will never please everyone all of the time. With God, you don’t even have to try to be nice to win his approval. In fact, he offers forgiveness to us before we attempt to be nice. While we were still sinners, Paul writes, Christ died for us.

I’ve covered a lot of stuff over the past three days. Let me end with a couple of cautions.  If you are a hider, don’t get down about it. Everybody struggles with game playing in relationships. Just own it and pick one or two things off of this list and start to work on them.

Second, if this is not you, don’t beat somebody else over the head with this information. They already know it’s them and they are very vulnerable right now. What you need to do is to remind them that with God’s help they will be able to grow and change, and to encourage whatever progress that you see in them.

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Strategy

There are several strategic moves when playing relational “Hide and Seek” that will help covertly hide your negative feelings. As you read through this list, you might want to check off the ones that are characteristic of the way you do relationships.

1. Deny your feelings of anger and frustration.

With this move, you just don’t let on when you are hurt. You say something like, “It’s ok” when it isn’t … or “it doesn’t matter” when it does … or “it’s not that big of a deal” when it really is. You turn the anger and frustration inward instead of expressing it at the person who deserves it.

2. Tell yourself, “In time things will work out on their own.”

Don’t take any action to resolve the conflict on your own because, who knows, it might only make things worse.

3. Have a lot of imaginary conversations.

Instead of going to the person and having it out for real, just do it in your head. You say what you really want to say, and then you mentally have them respond how you think they should. But whenever you see them for real, just keep smiling like everything is fine.

4. Expect others to read your mind.

Drop little hints and clues that might suggest that you are not happy and hope that others will somehow figure it out. Don’t sit down with them and come right out and say what is on your mind. That could be too risky.

5. Gossip instead of confronting.

All of that pent up anger and emotion has to go somewhere and since we’re too afraid or too lazy to take it to the person directly, other people are the natural outlet. And if we’re “religious” it’s really easy to do this by saying, “I have a prayer request about a problem I’m having with so-and-so. Let me tell you the situation so you’ll be able to pray more intelligently …”

By the way, there is a time when it is appropriate to say something like that but only under certain circumstances.

Those are some of the strategic moves in relational Hide and Seek. But how do you “win”?

– you meet your need for approval through deception.

You act like everything is OK, you don’t rock the boat, and you avoid the hard issues because you want everyone to be happy with you.

Well, that’s the game and it can get ugly.  But there is hope for those of us who struggle with this relational pattern. There is hope for those of us who lie in bed at night and realize that most of our relational stress comes because we pretend in order to meet our need for approval.

There is hope for those of us who want to end the game, but first, we must admit the truth about ourselves, that we are masters of it and then turn from it. We must ask God to give us courage to say what needs to be said and we must lessen the value we place on what people think of us. Only when we do that, are there some things we can start to do differently in our interactions with those around us.

Tomorrow I will wrap this up with a few strategy moves to end this pattern that is in reality, no game at all.  We are talking about real people with real lives.  Many time these are some of the closest relationships in our lives.

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One of the few kid games my brothers and I could play that did not end in bloodshed was the game Hide and Seek.  Should your memory be a bit rusty, let me give you a brief refresher course.  Hide-and-seek or hide-and-go-seek is a game in which a number of players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more seekers. The game is played by one player (designated as being “it”) counting to a predetermined number while the other players hide. After reaching the number, the player who is “it” tries to find the other players (thank you, Wikipedia).

In the kids’ version of Hide and Seek, the goal is to hide your physical body so that no one can find you. But in the relational version of the game, the goal is to hide not your body, but your emotions – in particular, the negative ones – that arise in the course of routine interactions with the people around you

There’s a high price to pay for that choice. It’s no fun to stay hidden forever. But in the relational version, not only is it not fun, it’s not safe. And not only is it not fun and not safe, it’s downright destructive.

All of that buried anger and unspoken pain is like a time bomb just waiting to go off, and in the end, more often than not, it does. It can wind up destroying relationships and has been known to cost lives.

God has been dealing with me about this so I’ve been taking a closer look at the details of this game called “Hide and Seek.”

Equipment required:

To play the game you only need one major piece of equipment: basic belief that conflict is bad or just too dangerous.

You have to be convinced that the world is going to end if someone gets mad at you because you expressed your displeasure over something they did. You need to believe that people would rather you run away from them than confront them. You need to believe that pushing through the junk that comes from revealing how you feel just isn’t worth the effort, that it’s easier to just hide those feelings and pretend that everything is OK.

Now, let me be very clear, I’m not saying that every bad feeling we have about another person needs to be brought out into the open. After all, Proverbs 19:11 says that … A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11 [NIV]

But the issue is – can the offense truly be overlooked and are we truly being patient? To overlook something means that you don’t bring it up to the person because you have chosen to let it go; because you have decided that it will not be an issue in your relationship. There is a world of difference between doing that out of patience and clamming up because you simply want to avoid conflict out of fear or laziness.

Tomorrow I want to look at strategies for playing the game.

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When it comes to social interactions, I have what is known as a Melancholy temperament.  This means that interacting socially for me with people outside of my closest friends and family is somewhat stressful.  I did not know this about myself until recently.  However, one thing I have always known is that I have always felt awkward talking with people I don’t know very well.  I have on too many occasions walked away from social conversations saying to myself, “That was a stupid thing to say.” 

It would be very selfish of me to just not speak to people or to stay home all the time and never venture out to parties or situations where casual conversation is expected.  Beyond that, part of the mission of a Christian is to share the good news of Christ with the world.  You just can’t do that without stepping out and speaking up. 

Two thoughts have helped me with this:

  1. As a Christian, I have the Spirit of God living in me and He is wisdom. Did you catch that?  He is wisdom.  Not, He has wisdom… He is wisdom!  I have wisdom in perfect form living within me.  If I am tuned in to the Spirit living in me, I never have to worry about what to say.  I never need to be intimidated by the person I am talking to because if he or she is wise, their wisdom came from the same Spirit living in me.
  2. Being a good conversationalist is not primarily about saying the right thing but responding the right way to what the other person is saying.  I think Mr. Carnegie has is right in his HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE.  He says that if you want people to walk away from a conversation with you thinking, “Wow, he’s a good conversationalist,” you need to learn the art of listening.  I once read that God has given us a picture of how this is suppose to work by giving us two ears and only one mouth.  I hope to explore the fine art of listening in the days ahead. 

Let me know what you think about this or any of my other posts.  I’m listening!

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Each person in our living environment is unique. That’s just a nice way to say that people are just different. We are all a complex blend of background, temperament, and giftedness. This fact is the root of most relational conflict. Uniqueness poses many communication problems. Simply stated: Often we simply don’t understand each other! We may use the same words, but the same words can have very different meanings. Our communications come out sideways instead of forward as intended. After just a short time in the world we can all relate to the words of Thomas Moffett. “Men dig their graves with their own teeth and die more by those fated instruments than the weapons of their enemies.”

Wise people recognize and value the differences between people and they relate to individuals in customized ways. They don’t relate to everybody with the same predictable style.

Would you like to be wise in relating to people? The Bible describes the characteristics of genuinely wise people: “Wisdom is pure… peace loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy… It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. (If you) are a peacemaker, you’ll plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.” James 3:15-17 (Living Bible)

From these verses we learn six ways to be wise when we deal with others:

As I am truly wise…

1. I won’t compromise my integrity (“wisdom is pure”)
I will be honest; I will keep my commitments.

2. I won’t stir up others’ anger (“wisdom is peace loving”)
I will work toward harmony; I will avoid pushing your hot buttons.

3. I won’t minimize others’ feelings (“wisdom is courteous”)
Perhaps I don’t feel as you do, but I respect your feelings; I won’t ignore or ridicule you.

4. I won’t criticize others’ suggestions (“wisdom allows discussion”)
I will disagree when appropriate, but I won’t be disagreeable.

5. I won’t emphasize others’ mistakes (“wisdom is full of mercy”)
I won’t rub it in — I will help rub it out.

6. I won’t disguise my motivations (“wisdom is wholehearted and sincere”)
I will not be unnecessarily guarded; I will in no way manipulate you.

We have all had regrettable moments when we acted out of something less than wisdom. The good news is it’s never too late to begin to walk in wisdom. We can change by God’s grace and power if we simply call upon him.

“Mount Everest, you have defeated me. But I will return, and I will defeat you because you can’t get any bigger — and I can!” — Sir Edmund Hillary.

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You can’t do business without communicating. That means to get ahead you’ve got to continually work on your communication skills. It has been estimated that 75% of the problems at work are related to poor communication — with customers, clients and co-workers. Poor communication is also the most frequently mentioned problem in marriage counseling.

To Effectively Communicate, We Must Give Up Three Things:

I. Give up our assumptions. We get into trouble when we start assuming we understand the meaning of what people say to us. The truth is everything you hear goes through filters. Your filters are determined by your past experiences, your unique personality and your temperament. You may not be hearing what they are actually saying. Therefore, it is smart (and safe!) to ask for clarification. There are six possible messages every time you speak:

A. What you meant to say versus what you actually said

B. What they heard versus what they think they heard

C. What they say about something versus what you think they said about it. Proverbs 18:13 says, “It’s foolish to answer before listening.”

II. Give up our accusations. You will never get your point across by being cross! Anger and sarcasm only make people defensive… and that destroys communication. Here are four most common forms of accusation:

A. Exaggerating: making sweeping generalities. Statements like “You always” and “You never” are always untrue, and never helpful.

B. Labeling: derogatory name calling. Labeling, even when it’s true, never changes anyone. It only reinforces a negative behavior.

C. Playing Historian: bringing up past failures, mistakes, and broken promises.

D. Asking Negative Loaded Questions: ones that can’t really be answered, like, “Can’t you do anything right?” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Use only helpful words, the kind that build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

III. Give up our apprehensions. Fear prevents honest communication. It causes us to conceal our true feelings, and fail to confront the real issues. The two most common apprehensions are: the fear of failure and of rejection. But when you face your fear and risk being honest — real communication can happen. Freedom is the result of openness. No matter what price we pay for relational freedom, it is worth the price. Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

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