“Can I get your opinion on something?” I asked my son.
“Why? So you can do the opposite?”
I laughed. Sometimes I need to debrief to process my thoughts. But real communication is a two-way street. It should be a reciprocal exchange where both parties leave satisfied. Let’s look at six ways to become a better communicator.
1. Edit Your Words
Have you ever heard someone share a brilliant insight and then drone on and on until the point is lost? Drowning the point in verbiage is like diluting your favorite beverage with so much water that it loses its flavor.Drowning your point in verbiage is like diluting your favorite beverage with so much water that it loses its flavor. #communication Click To Tweet
Whether we’re talking with our kids, spouse, or sharing in a group, less is more. Good communicators learn to edit their words. We strengthen our message when remove excess words.
The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? (Eccles. 6:11 NIV).
2. Consider Their Needs
Every person wants to be valued and treated with respect. How do we do that? Jesus showed us.
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you (Matt. 7:12 NASB 1995).
3. Follow Jesus’s Example
Jesus, the supreme communicator, could have impressed and entertained the crowds with stories about heaven, creation, and the many types of angels. After all, He’d spent an eternity in heaven. Instead, the heavenly man called Himself the Son of Man and used earthy illustrations his audience could grasp. He talked about:
- Vermin (moths, birds)
In other words, He humbled himself to speak our language and address our needs.
4. Serve as Christ’s Ambassador
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some (1 Cor. 9:22 NIV).
My first year after college, I spoke to a group of high school students and staff on nutrition. As a nutrition major, I used terms I soon realized my audience didn’t understand. I quickly shifted to tangible examples that illustrated my points.
After spending time with believers, we unconsciously adopt jargon that confuses or makes others feel left out. For example, “I spent time in the Word.” “Have you been born again?”
We understand this lingo. But do they? Do our terms alienate the people we want to reach? A good communicator works to connect with her audience and chooses terms they understand.
Language is always changing. Certain references offend people because of their association with past injuries or injustices. We must be careful not to mock other faiths or denominations. Good communication includes being sensitive of people’s wounds. We may need help identifying and avoiding those landmines.
You know how frustrating it is when a phone connection garbles or drops words. I don’t want people to miss Jesus because my language confuses or repels them. If they reject the message, let it be because they understand. Not because they misunderstand.
5. Listen Well
I don’t know of anything more frustrating than not being heard—whether in talking to a doctor, hairdresser, or family member. But I’m just as guilty of half-listening. As children of God, we’re called to love one another. In our distracted world, listening takes work, which makes it even more valuable. Being a good communicator means asking questions and listening to the response so we can learn more.
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry (James 1:19 NLT).
6. Be Present
Jesus left heaven so we wouldn’t misunderstand the Father’s love. Being present says more than a dictionary of clever words. Let’s make the extra effort to clearly communicate the love of Christ with everyone we meet.
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9 NIV).
What is your best tip or pet peeve concerning communication?