We know that communication is necessary for the good development of any company or business. A leader who is unable to communicate is unable to achieve satisfactory results. The best ideas are useless if they are not communicated clearly and accurately. Communication has been important since ancient times. Moses, the spokesman for God, was a leader who made sure that his messages were communicated accurately. The Leader of the leaders, Jesus, was the Greatest Communicator. Again and again, He used parables to facilitate the understanding of the message He sought to convey. He used a type of language for each of His listeners, and expressed Himself in a way that could be understood by everyone.
Reflecting on our relationships with friends, parents, and especially with our spouses, are we being good communicators?
There are countless differences between a happy and an unhappy couple. These are based on whether the couple knows how to communicate or not. We read in Proverbs 18:21 that: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who love it will eat its fruit.” Reaping good fruits, happiness in your relationship, is intertwined with your willingness and ability to communicate effectively.
According to Jaime Kemp, author of the book Antes de dizer sim (Before Saying “I do”), there are at least four levels of communication. Every couple that wants to be happy in marriage must be willing to deepen their relationship until they reach the highest level of communication. As you read the following levels, assess where you are in your family relationship.
Level four — Superficial communication, the type that creates a perception of safety. The person uses expressions like “Good morning!” “How are you?” “Did you like the service?” “Do you think it will rain today?” all asked safely behind a mask. Astoundingly, there are many families in which members are communicating only at this level. Certainly, when God created man and woman to be companions, He conceived an idea of deep communication between the two and not mere superficial conversation.
Level three — At this level, the couple is satisfied with simply relating facts about others; reporting what other people have said. No substantial comment is made on the facts. The individual does not come “out of their shell” to make known about what they think and feel. Communication is very limited. There is no possibility of success in a marriage in which one is closed off to the other.
Level two — Here the individual begins to share ideas and thoughts. This is the beginning of real communication. The person is willing to take the risk of exposing personal ideas and solutions. If you are communicating at this level, there is hope to be able to deepen your intimacy even further.
Level one — Total communication. The person is willing to share feelings, ideas, and thoughts. This communication is based on honesty and complete openness. It is difficult to reach such a level because both are at risk of being rejected or criticized. It is threatening to share all of your intimacy. However, if you want a complete relationship, this is vital.Antes de dizer sim, Jaime Kemp
Most families are communicating somewhere between levels four and three, but why is that? There are a few reasons: there are people who have never learned how to communicate openly and have difficulties even in forming sentences. Others are afraid to expose what they think and feel. They do not want to risk being offended if someone disagrees with them. Sometimes, there are people who take the following attitude: talking will not solve anything, so it is better to keep quiet and leave communication aside.
There are other problems that can hinder good communication:
- Tears – when these appear, they usually hinder clear expression of thoughts and feelings;
- Screaming – the louder the voice, the lesser the communication;
- Silence – most couples’ favorite method. Both refuse to express their feelings and use silence as a weapon against their spouse.
These are, to some extent, attempts at communication, but unfortunately ineffective ones. The couple that wants to reach a deeper level in their communication, needs to quit these habits and learn to express themselves with maturity and clarity.
Here are 10 tips for successful communication, from Jaime Kemp in Antes de dizer sim:
- Communication is a two-way street – Listen to your partner. Give them your complete attention, even with your eyes. With that, you will show love and concern.
- Choose the right time to communicate – Don’t let hurt feelings fester for several days. Set aside some time with your partner to talk about it.
- Always speak the truth, but speak with love– Make a mutual commitment to honesty.
- Don’t use silence to frustrate your partner – If you don’t want to answer at that exact moment, calmly explain why, otherwise you may only cause frustration.
- Don’t be hasty in responding – Don’t interrupt each other. How many times do we think we know what the other is going to say and rudely interrupt off in the middle of the conversation, only to later discover that wasn’t at all what they were going to say (or were thinking of saying). It would be good to accept the words of Proverbs 15:28: “The righteous heart reflects before answering, but the wicked mouth blurts out evil.”
- Don’t get involved in feuds – You can disagree without fighting. Uncontrolled anger turns into sin.
- Do not respond with anger – Use gentle and kind words. How many times a harsh word deeply hurts another’s spirit!
- Avoid upsetting your partner – Excessive talking won’t change the other person. Instead of criticizing, and complaining, try to live an exemplary life without giving rise to complaints. Most of all, pray for your spouse.
- Always be willing to say three things – 1. I was wrong; 2. Please forgive me; 3. I love you. A forgiving spirit is essential for a strong relationship.
- Do not blame or criticize your partner – Adopt this attitude: “I won’t criticize even my family, even if it is a fair criticism, without giving a practical solution.” Always try to restore, encourage, and build.
Practice communication! Invest in this very personal and important area of your life, and you will see that God can cause great improvements in your relationships.
¹KEMP, Jaime. Antes de dizer sim. 11ª Ed. São Paulo: Mundo Cristão, 2001.