Honing the Craft of Communication …

Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:24

     I saw a quote the other day, which triggered recent thoughts I’ve had concerning pleasant communication.

      Green said, “You can be direct without being rude and you can be assertive without being disagreeable.[1]

     I’m convinced good communication is an art form. Some folks have more innate giftedness with words than others, but every one of us can improve the craft of effective, grace-filled communication.

     I’m a verbal person by nature. My mom has told me more than once about how as a wee tyke, I would string every word in my limited vocabulary together, creating unintelligible sentences, complete with a variety of inflections. My first-grade teacher wrote on my report card: “Susan is bright. She scored high on her reading tests. Susan talks too much.”

     Indeed, every strength has its pollution!

     Not only do I tend to “talk too much,” just like my first-grade teacher reported. I’m also inclined to speak too quickly. Let me assure you, words have caused me trouble on more than one occasion!

     Many mornings, my prayer echoes this one found in Psalms 141:3:

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.

     Because verbalization can be a challenging area, I’ve given this matter a lot of thought and have identified three communication possibilities.

  1. First, I can REACT – Reaction generally is a rapid verbal response when I disagree or feel angry.
  2. Though not generally my first choice, sometimes I REPRESS – Repression causes me to stuff my verbal response. While I may keep my mouth shut, my body language generally speaks volumes.
  3. With prayer and practice, I’m learning the value of RESPONDING – I allow myself time to think before I speak. I consider what words are appropriate to say at the time and what words are better left unsaid.

     Here’s what I’ve found happens with each communication possibility:

     Reactions often lead to regret and ruination of relationships.

     Repression often leads to resentment or even revulsion.

     Responding often leads to resolution and restoration.

     When Ms. Green suggests being, “direct without being rude and…assertive without being disagreeable,” I believe she’s referring to a person who’s learned the communication skill of responding.

     I like acronyms, and probably my favorite is one that helps me hone the communication art of response: THINK.

     Before I speak, THINK:

          T – Are the words I’m about to speak TRUE?

          H – Will they be HELPFUL?

          I – Are the words INSPIRATIONAL?

          N – Are they NECESSARY?

          K – Are the words KIND?

     Because I’m prone to talking too much and rarely am at a loss for something to say, I’ve found the “N” reminder to be especially helpful.

     I hope these words I’ve written today have met the “H” and “I” criteria.

     My prayer is that you will give and receive many “T” and “K” words this day!

Sue Reeve

Some of the words spoken during our Mother’s Day family time were sweet!

(Sydney, center, our firstborn grandchild; Emmi, left, our third granddaughter; and Reeve, right, our youngest grandchild and second grandson.)

Others were silly!!

  1. http://www.askamanager.org/

One thought on “Honing the Craft of Communication …

  1. One of my biggest struggles is my mouth. I do alot of that “reacting” when I really want to “respond”. I learned some years back that I really should learn how to “pause when agitated or doubtful and ask God for the next right thought or action”. Pausing is not an easy thing for me as I have always been “quick witted”. Not always a good thing. I no longer fall back to sarcasm like I used to but I still am quick to speak. If I would only pause for a few minutes I would realize that what I was going to say was really not necessary at all. Thank you for the reminder that not every thing that pops into my head needs to come out of my mouth.

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