Are you talking or communicating? Just because words come out of our mouths doesn’t mean we are truly communicating. And just because we have ears and hear someone talking doesn’t necessarily mean we listen to what is being said.
In this week’s teaching, you’ll learn how to build healthier relationships by understanding the seven things you can do to become a better speaker, and the seven things you can do to become a better listener.
Let’s Pray: Dear Father, thank you so much for the history and longevity of our friendship. Thank you for the gift of salvation. Let this message help shape me into the person you have called me to become. In Christ’s name, Amen.
As someone who has to talk for a living, so to speak, and has to know how to communicate with people, I have learned many things over the years in the area of communication.
People will listen to you if you speak well to them, and will want to speak to you if you listen well to them.
Communication is very intrinsically involved. The idea of healthy relationships begins with being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Some people can grow in the knowledge of the Bible and quote Scriptures all day long, but that doesn’t mean they have emotionally healthy relationships. If this applies to you, my question is: Are you growing as a follower of Jesus Christ?
You may be successful in many areas of your life, but this doesn’t mean you are successful in building healthy relationships. Often if you are having a hard time building a healthy relationship with someone, it is because it will require you to build up different gifts and learn to emphasize other things that you may not be used to doing.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
The art of communication is very critical to building emotionally healthy relationships. We all have relationships in our lives. In this passage of Scripture, Solomon tells us that communication has three strands or three ingredients to build healthy relationships. One of the strands is that you benefit from good communication. The person you’re speaking to benefits as well, and finally, the relationship benefits. You have to look at each of those things as if they are three separate entities, but each has a significant role.
“Every relationship has three components — person one, person two, and the relationship itself — and all three must grow, change, evolve, manage the past, deal with the present, and plan for the future.” — Joshua Klapow (Psychologist)
There are two things that we must be very aware of because these two things inform the quality of the relationship we will build.
First, we must be very aware of the speaker and the speaker’s role.
Second, we must be aware of the listener and the listener’s role.
Anytime that you deal with the issue of communication, you must be conscious of those two entities. The speaker and the listener drive the relationship’s and communication’s quality.
I will dive into each of these roles, starting with the speakers.
What is the speaker’s role in building an emotionally healthy relationship? How do you apply the speaker’s role to your communication?
How do you approach speaking to others about sensitive matters?
My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things God wants done. — James 1:19-20 (CEV)
James points out that the speaker’s role is to approach the conversation knowing that a two-way dialogue will happen. You will have certain things that you will want to share with a person, and they will have certain things that they will want to share.
When you realize your role as the speaker, you must recognize that you have things you want to communicate and that the other person has things they, too, will want to share.
Being slow to speak means that you are giving thought to what you are feeling.
When you’re sharing an idea that you have, you want to be able to walk away from the conversation, knowing that you also heard what the other person needs.
The speaker’s role in communication is to ensure that both people get what they need from the relationship. You want to walk away from a conversation with a greater understanding of the person.
In some relationships, a person may be very guarded against you. How are you going to help them drop your guard? Being forceful won’t work.
Look back to what James said, be slow to speak. Being slow to speak means you aim to improve the relationship through dialogue. If you feel the tension in the relationship, start your conversation by saying, I want our relationship to be healthy, and I want to please you.
It is amazing how when you say something like that, the person then drops their guard.
The speaker’s role is to also not assume certain things of the other person. Don’t assume that they can read your mind. Your role is to be assertive and speak what is on your heart and mind. Your role is not to assume the worst about the person.
The speaker has a responsibility when it comes to communication. You need to ensure that you’re heard, they’re heard and that you’re not making the worst assumptions about them.
Seven barriers to emotionally healthy relationships.
Learn how to navigate these barriers so you don’t fall prey to their evil intentions.
- Avoidance. This is when you leave problems untouched. By doing this, you are fueling the fires of unhealthy relationships.
- Defensiveness. You have walls up, and this pushes people away. In this position, you are not willing to adjust your actions or perspective.
- Being inflexible. This is when you are unwilling to be adaptive regarding good communication.
- Being overly critical. This is a barrier preventing people from sharing their hearts with you. Do not say bad things that hurt or insult people. Instead, say only good things that will help people. Your words should help people to become strong when they hear them. — Ephesians 4:29 (Easy English Bible)
- Being too needy. Being too needy leads to an unhealthy dependence which often causes emotional immaturity.
- Being too distant. This is also a barrier that causes an unhealthy relationship. Being distant creates emotional disconnectedness.
- Being too fearful. Your relationship has hit a wall if you’re afraid of being abandoned, rejected or mishandled.
“As long as you leave to others the responsibility to make you happy, you’ll always be miserable because that is actually your job.” — Linda Alfiori (Activist & Speaker)
What’s the listener’s role?
Building emotionally healthy relationships requires knowing, understanding and applying the listener’s role in conversations. How do you actively listen to others sharing tough and delicate information?
Fools do not want to understand anything. They only want to tell others what they think. — Proverbs 18:2 (NLT)
The Bible has the word fool in it for many reasons, and in this passage, it calls someone silly. Essentially, it is saying that if you never listen to what someone else is trying to say, you are silly. The fool is only concerned about their talking.
Good listeners approach conversations with the desire to listen and learn from the other person.
Listen to advice and accept correction, and in the end you’ll be wise. — Proverbs 19:20 (NCV)
Good listeners genuinely want to learn. They want to learn how you want to be approached, how you want to be spoken to and how you want to be dealt with so that the relationship can thrive.
Good listeners want to improve their interaction with you because that will improve the emotional health of the relationship.
Seven tips for active listening.
- Don’t speak. What do you mean? If you want to practice active listening, don’t speak while the other person is pouring out their heart.
- Paraphrase what the person is saying. When the person is talking, say back to them in your words what you heard them say.
- Look at the speaker. Look at them through the eyes of love and the eyes of receptivity.
- Have open body language. This means that if someone is speaking to you, you want to be open and not closed off to their words. Facial expressions convey certain things.
- Ask clarifying questions. This will let them know that you are genuinely listening and will clear up any possible miscommunications.
- Withhold judgment. A healthy and vulnerable dialogue occurs best if you are not sitting there in a seat of judgment.
- Show empathy to the person. People want to know that they have been heard and listened to. Showing empathy means that you’re telling the person that you care for them.
It makes a lot of sense to be a person with few words and to stay calm. Even fools seem smart when they are quiet. Proverbs 17:27 (CEV)
Emotionally healthy relationships are built on healthy communication, which hinges on a two-fold process: the speaker must know their job, and the listener must know their role. If you speak nicely to people, they’ll listen to you. If you listen well, people will want to speak with you.
Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I need you. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Wash away my sins. Change me. Help me serve you and walk with you every day. Starting right now. I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.