Communication comes in a few different forms, giving us different ways to express ourselves and how we feel. Body language shows others if we are comfortable in our surroundings, or if we are closed off to meeting new people. Hand gestures can give a “thumbs up” for approval, or the sound of applause for excitement and support. Even our eye movements can send a message to others. While there are many ways to share our feelings, our greatest form of communication is through our words.
We all come from different walks of life, and we all have different personalities. Our thoughts and ways of expressing them are different for every individual. Even with all of our unique differences, there are methods and approaches that will help us to express ourselves well, and to also be heard by others.
Consider the behaviors below:
1. Be yourself. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” God made you unique. Your personality adds variety to those around you, and others appreciate authenticity. Transparency is also appreciated when applicable. It allows others to see glimpses of your heart.
2. Be kind. Proverbs 15:4 tells us, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life…” Kindness is free for the giver and the receiver. Even when problems and difficulties need to be discussed, kindness can work wonders in subduing contention. Proverbs 15:1 is a proven method that saves many from hurt feelings: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
3. Be truthful. Nobody wants to be lied to. With difficult circumstances and differing opinions or thoughts from your friends or your team, you can still be truthful. Simply remember to be kind also. Not only does this keep the lines of communication open between friends and co-workers, it brings awareness to situations that should be addressed. Without any knowledge of a problem, there will be no one searching for a solution.
4. Give others space to talk too, and be a good listener. It’s easy to get excited when you have so much to share, but others have important things they would like to share also. Don’t dominate each conversation without allowing others to give their input. It is actually rude to do so, and can make others avoid you, potentially causing good communication opportunities to be missed.
5. Avoid complaining. There is a time and place to share your negative feelings with others, but it should not be every conversation nor a steady diet of it. Learn to be the positive voice in the crowd, and let Ephesians 4:29 encourage you: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
6. Speak life. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Be the one who builds confidence in others. Freely give compliments that lift the spirits of those around you. Say things like, “I know you’ll do great at it!”, “You are such an inspiration to me!”, and “I’m so thankful to have you on my team!”.
7. Practice good manners. Turn down any unnecessary noise when you are speaking with others, such as the radio or television. Say please and thank you. Make those you are speaking to feel validated as a human being, and a person worthwhile of your time. Return phone calls within a reasonable amount of time, and respond to those calls whether you are able to help them or not. Don’t leave others in the unknown.
8. When speaking to others in person, put your cell phone away. Be in the moment. Cell phones have a way of making those around you feel like a bother if you are addicted to checking and playing on your phone. It makes things awkward for your company. It is hurtful to feel like an inconvenience. There are exceptions, when a call may be an emergency (from a child at home alone, for example), but answering every call should never be the norm when you are with others. When necessary, answer the call and end the phone conversation as quickly as possible, letting the caller know that you will get back to them as soon as you can.
Good communication can enrich our lives in many ways. We’ve all been with others who excel at making everyone feel important and heard. With a little practice and a concentrated effort of improving the areas where we are lacking, our own communication skills will become better, stronger, and even desired. In a world where negativity and harshness are widely experienced, let us be the voices and communication that are breaths of fresh air to those around us. It’s a win-win for others and ourselves alike.
What communication behaviors are important to you?