“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
— James 1:19 (NLT)
- WHAT do I need say? Pick your words carefully in order to avoid misunderstandings. When you are ready to speak to a person what needs to be communicated?
- HOW should I say what I need to say? Speak your words carefully in order to avoid unintended consequences. Be very intentional and focused on ‘how’ to say it.
- WHEN should I say what needs to be said? Time your words carefully in order to be effective with your communication. Your timing is critical when you are trying to talk to someone.
- DOUBLE CHECK to be clear that what you said was understood. Repeat it back. Assume nothing.
- LISTEN carefully to understand what your spouse says back to you; make sure that their response is clear.
- Listen with your EARS. Listening is more than waiting for your turn to talk!
- Listen with your EYES. Pay attention. Make eye contact.
- Listen with your HEART. Truly desire to connect, rather than just going through the motions.
- ADMIT when you are wrong. If you are not sure, ask your spouse if your actions or words, or the tone of your words, have been hurtful, and be willing to accept his or her perceptions, even if you have been misunderstood.
- ASSESS your motivation for speaking. Is what you’re about to say in the best interest of your spouse or the best way to build the relationship? So often we want to speak because we want to get something off our chest instead of asking if our words are in the best interest for the other person.
- DISCERN if your spouse is emotionally ready to receive what you want to say. Sometimes the other person is just “not there” yet, or even not mature enough to receive your words. It might be the truth and the words may need to be spoken at some point, but your level of maturity might be different than theirs. (See #3)
- MEASURE your words. Like a good carpenter who “measures twice and cuts once,” carefully measure your words before speaking them. Better to say them right the first time than to rush in and make things worse. Measure Twice Speak Once!
- ASK GOD to help you communicate effectively. The Bible exhorts that we are to pray so that the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts would be acceptable in God’s sight (Psalm 19:14). The words that we speak matter. They are powerful. They change lives.
© 2016 by Randy Carlson