Communication is a major part of our being– probably one of the most important aspects of who we are and the ability to assess those around us. Sadly, we as the human race are the only ones unable to enjoy the precious gift of communication due to the lack of understanding.
Yes, we understand that we must reach out to the people around us– so to speak– in order to truly live. But do we understand how to communicate? Studies suggest not. Honestly, it is not so much that anyone has said “Wow….we’re really bad communicators!”, however, the number of articles that were written on effective communication suggest that we may have a problem. Not may have–we do have a problem (or a small epidemic!) I mean, why else would the need to write those types of posts exist?
While for some, simply speaking when spoken to would fix their problem, it is really not that simple for everyone else (since most of us speak). Perhaps not at the right times, whether that’s because we said something we shouldn’t have or we let a comment hang in the air (that should have been affirmed or denied).
Another thing to note is that communication has many aspects and all of them do not involve talking. As a matter of fact, it is the non-verbal communication where we see our greatest deficit.
“It’s not always what you say, but what you don’t say”
Heard something like that before? Yeah, me too (from my Mom when I nonverbally expressed my dislikes). Seriously, at some point we all have seen this statement in play, but do we understand it?
Imagine this..You say “good morning!” and the person in whom you were speaking to says nothing, the next thing you do is what? Look at them closely. You look at their body posture and facial expression to determine that A) they have a serious attitude or B) they simply didn’t hear you.
In those instances, you both are using non-verbal communication– even if the other person is not aware. It is always a dialogue where non-verbal communication is concerned. There is no such thing as a monologue in these instances. Even if the other person is totally unaware of your presence, it is communicated as “you are not my top priority” (or at least at that moment you are insignificant, right?).
Guard your thoughts
If the number one aspect that causes problem is not what is said but what is done than we must tackle how to change what you are portraying to others.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” Proverbs 4:23
Whether we like it or not, 11 times out of 10 what we’re thinking runs across our face. To our favor, others cannot always discern what our expressions mean, but that does not mean that they aren’t still affected by what we are displaying. It just means that later they are going to be struggling with feelings like you hate them or they are not good enough without knowing why.
Another reason you want to filter what you think about is this…we all know what it’s like to think one thing and it comes out or goes across our face all wrong, leading to an awkward moment…..right?
So what can you do to eliminate the chances that you’ll communicate ineffectively because of your expressions? To say “don’t think bad thoughts” or something of that sort is both unnatural and impossible. But I will say that choosing how long you “entertain” your negative thoughts about a person is important. You cannot always keep those negative thoughts from popping up, but you can say “you know what, I do not like what they said/did, but I will get over it.”
However, getting over it does not always mean just letting them be rude to you without saying anything. Sometimes getting over it means you will need to talk about how their actions have made you feel….and that is perfectly okay. Talking about it is communicating and communication is our goal!
Think before you act
If our thoughts can be significant enough to make or break our relationship with others, than surely we cannot ignore that our actions can be a serious problem as well. We cannot afford to excuse our actions, no more than we can our thoughts. Our actions are in plain view and can be interpreted a lot easier.
“…Let us not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18
I think we can all agree that it is easier to tolerate someone who is rude, but gets their work done (who isn’t playing trying to be superior) than to be around someone who says they mean well, but you have to come to the painful realization that they do not have a heart for you. They only want what is best for themselves.
In other words, what you are doing needs to be in sync with what you are saying… when it is not, a change needs to be made.
What are your actions saying? If you are having a bad day, say so. Do not let your body posture speak for you. It will always portray a different reality. We all have “those days”. Everyone understands that you will have that day (so we get it if you just tell us) because the contrary is making someone feel as if you are upset with them, and they can’t do anything right (or what they are saying to you is not important).
We do not want to give off those impressions right? At least not when we do not mean them (if you do mean it then that’s another lesson for another day…).
What can you do to improve your disposition? If you improve your thoughts then likely your body language will follow suit. Crossing your arms will come naturally when you’re unsatisfied. If you are like me, it is in those situations that make you uncomfortable, however, it doesn’t scare you or make you nervous, it’s actually more of an irritating uncomfortable (is that a such thing?). What you can do instead is tuck your hands in your pockets
(I usually go for my back pockets since its low key ‘hands on hips’).
Before I go any further I must say this: get to know yourself. In order to truly have effective communication, you must first be able to communicate with yourself. And by that I mean, if your heart is hurting, don’t try to talk yourself out of it in your head. That’s denial. It does hurt! Instead, affirm your feelings and then talk about how you can get through it so you can move on. That is being real with yourself, and trust me, it gets easier the more you do it. Just like communicating with others. It does get better!
Do you really enjoy that person’s company? If so great! If not, don’t try to pretend that you do. Instead, treat them with kindness while acknowledging the fact that you are not really fond of them. That is real character. It is also true kindness, that undeserved kindness that no one deserves but Jesus affords us.
Communicating should happen face to face
I am not saying that texting or calling someone over the phone is bad, but it definitely should not replace talking to people in person. However, let’s face the reality that it does. It is completely possible to have a relationship with someone over the phone without ever meeting them. Right? I know it first hand! Being the sociable person I am I’ve had many “internet” friends but the truth is, these people are one-dimensional and so are we when it comes to talking to them. However, having more of these kinds of relationships than interpersonal ones will rock our ability to communicate effectively with people “in real life”.
Think about it, there is rarely an awkward moment over text. They say something that’s not actually funny, you say “lol” or “haha”, add emojis and roll. However, that does not fly in real life. You know it is not funny and you know your expression will betray you… Right? Right, I rest my case.
There is so much more I wish to say but in an effort to keep this from turning into a book I will bring us to this conclusion. You are always communicating something, even if you are not actually talking! Your actions towards others say the most about you, so guard your thoughts and think about what you are doing before you do it!
Of course, there are those special case scenarios where communicating with others is a headache, not because of you but because they do not want to communicate and that’s not your fault! Always do what you can to right a situation and don’t worry about what you can’t help.
How well would you say you communicate with others? Are you naturally an introvert or extrovert?