Some people are clammers. In an effort to avoid confrontation, they avoid communication. This often furthers problems instead of solving them. First and foremost, we need to be willing and courageous enough to speak honestly with each other.
Dishonesty can take several forms. Outright deceit is fairly straightforward: saying things that aren’t true. Incongruency is when what you say isn’t lining up with your actions. Perhaps the most dangerous form of dishonesty, though, is disguised communication. Disguised communication is a distant cousin to sarcasm. Humor and sarcasm are valid forms of communication, but there is a fine line between sarcasm and veiled complaints.
The more important the message you need to convey to someone, the more thought you need to give to how it will be received. Loving communication acts with another person’s best interests in mind, asking the question: “What can I do to make this easier for someone to hear?”
Though often demonized, anger is not wrong. It can be misused to attack others or one’s self; but it’s really just energy to be used in solving problems. Failure to keep relationships current opens the door to resentment and hatred and often ends up causing more problems in the future like strained sexual relationships and distortions of future problems.
Attack Problems, Not People
Unwholesome communication is destructive; edifying communication is constructive. We ought to be looking to solve problems and increase our understanding, not fire off salvos and act as a prosecutor. Effective communication rests centrally on personal responsibility and offers graciousness to those who hear it. Problems are attacked most effectively by asking questions and seeking to understand a person’s goals and motives. It’s important to point out that attacking a person takes a lot less effort than attacking a problem.
Act, Don’t React
Reactions are natural, built-in responses to stimuli. You never have to practice them and all it takes for a reaction to occur is the right stimulus. Our typical reactions take on several forms:
- Bitterness: refusing to treat someone as if they never hurt you
- Wrath: from the Greek word thumas; an explosive outburst of rage
- Anger: from the Greek word orgay; a slow burn of indignation
- Clamor: this is public quarreling, or as they say in the South, carrying on
- Slander: from the Greek word blasphamia; injurious or abusive speech
- Malice: the desire to harm others or see them suffer
However, we ought to replace those reactions with these three actions:
- Kind: benevolence and helpfulness towards others
- Tenderhearted: compassion and sympathy towards others
- Forgiving: passing over an offense and freeing an offender from the guilt of it
And it’s absolutely essential to realize that replacing reactions doesn’t happen by trying to get rid of them first. These are communication replacements. You stop reacting wrongly when you start acting rightly.