The Suspense is Killing Your Communication!

“The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl. The warning of a wise person is valuable to someone who will listen. It is worth as much as gold earrings or fine gold jewelry. A trustworthy messenger refreshes those who send him. He is like the coolness of snow in the summertime.” Proverbs 25:11-13 (International Children’s Bible)

How important is it that we learn to communicate with consideration for the other person? Very! My posts usually deal with spirituality, but this one is probably as much a matter of practicality.

Communication tip of the day, especially in this technological world of email, voicemail, and texting!

When you need to get an important point or message across to someone with whom you’re not making eye contact, just come right out and say the thing without, as my Granny would describe it, “hem-hawing around;” but use some common sense and put yourself on the other side of the conversation maybe even before you start. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking if someone else sent/left me this same message?” Are you open with people from the very beginning, or do you make them labor to get to the bottom of why you contacted them in the first place? We don’t usually talk about it, but the truth is, most of us hate to deal with people who do us this way. Don’t be that person!

It’ll drive the people in your life crazy if you keep them in suspense, and if every message is open-ended and sounds like potential gloom and doom. Those abrupt “we need to talk” texts, or messages where your voice always sounds like “a dying calf in a hailstorm,” followed by crickets until they respond to get the rest of the story, already sound as if you’re gonna drop an unpleasant bomb on the recipients. It may send folks who have anxiety or depression issues into a tailspin. They will likely have to build up the nerve to respond because they are expecting the absolute worst! And if every single time you message people, it’s stamped “urgent,” they may come to dread hearing from you at all (or at the very least, stop taking you seriously).

The sky isn’t always falling, for heaven’s sake. Don’t make every communication sound dire and hopeless in the subject line.

Do you know how your own imagination runs away with you when you don’t have all the facts? Well, other people feel that same way! No one likes to feel as if he/she is about to be chewed out, or about to get lured into a drama crossfire; and no one wants to sit and stew and worry and wonder what’s wrong this time. To use that kind of manipulation to try and coerce people to respond faster may backfire, and you can be certain they won’t be eager to talk to you if and when they do finally respond.

Even if it’s very important, even if it is serious, even if it’s something you know others aren’t going to want to deal with, transparency is always the best route to take. We get enough misleading headlines and emotionally-jarring clickbait in the media…let’s not be sources of it! Keep it relatively short and sweet, but lay the information out in advance so that when people get back to you, they’re emotionally and maybe even situationally prepared. Sometimes the information you seek, or the favor you’re about to ask, or the emotional support you need is best gotten when folks don’t feel pressured, guilted, or put on the spot.

Relationships are a lot less complicated when we can communicate with consideration at least most of the time. Make sure that most of your dealings with those around you are positive and encouraging so that when the subject occasionally isn’t a pleasant one, they aren’t already trying to squirm away from you!

One final thought. If you’re the recipient of a message and the other person knows the message has been seen or heard (as most social media does show when something’s been opened or read), acknowledge it. A simple, “I don’t have an answer for you just now, but I want to acknowledge that I’ve received your message, I’m aware of the situation, and I will get back to you later (maybe even estimate a time) when I can help you.” And if the answer is a “no,” say no! Don’t just string people along or leave them hanging if an issue is time-sensitive! Silence is often perceived by the other person as, “I don’t place a value on you or your time.”

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Be someone who refreshes instead of exhausts! ūüėČ

Owning Our Words

OffendI know that there are a few folks in this world who are chronically offended about anything and everything, but we can never use that as an excuse to just be reckless with our words. Part of the last days’ trend will be increasing offenses. Some of it we will just have to deal with…especially in matters of truth; but I caution us as believers to weigh out our words–right down to our motives for speaking them–before we let them fly. That goes double for me!

The Word tells us that we will give account of every idle word. That’s not just telling us to clean up our language…it’s telling us to weed out whatever doesn’t bear good fruit. We can go about business as usual, and say, “Well, so-and-so just needs to grow up,” or we can choose to be better stewards of our communication. Corrupt ‚Ä™#‚Äécommunication‚Ĩ isn’t just dirty words and cursing; it’s anything that breeds confusion and opens the door for the devil to make a mess of things. We don’t have to go around fearful and reluctant to speak to people; but I’m just saying, give no place to the devil! Why should I have to qualify what I say? you may ask. Well, you can wound people and determine to just let them be wounded–that’s their problem–or you can take just a little more care in the area of reconciliation and consideration.

It’s not just a matter of being better communicators to a lost world, but it’s also a matter of being better communicators among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Leaders to leaders, leaders to followers, followers to other followers, and all of us to the world–our speech will either be fruitful or it will be like spraying Round Up on everything we work to produce. Know when tough love is needed, but know also when you just need to stake up the weak branches and pour in the oil and wine. Be honest with people if you have a problem with them; but do it in love and humility. Don’t show partiality, be clannish, or ignore the feelings of those who look up to you. If you do, you will lose them.

The Lord spoke to my heart in prayer a few months back and He told me that we are to beware of reckless offenses in the Body of Christ. The enemy is going to try to erode our unity not by big church splits, but by little offenses. Little day-to-day misunderstandings, lack of proper communication, suspicions, distrust, hurts, unforgiveness, disrespect, ignoring one another, backbiting, gossip, incorrect assumptions, “digging” at one another (does your kidding around with others ever go just a little too far?), and failure to prefer our brothers and sisters over ourselves. Even as a local body, my own church has maintained a great strength in unity over the years, and I would say, “turn up the dial even higher to safeguard against the devil’s schemes! Be ready to extinguish any spark of disunity you see trying to ignite!”¬† Yes, Satan will even try that strategy in the strongest of churches.

Listen to the Holy Spirit like you’ve never listened before. I believe that if we will remain humble and open to His voice, He will caution us when we are about to make a blunder. Don’t override His urging when He’s saying to you, ‘That’s not your business.’ ‘Nope, don’t go there.’ ‘You don’t know that to be a fact at all.’ ‘This is where you need to end the discussion.’ ‘Don’t be part of that conversation.’ ‘Walk away.’ ‘Apologize…I don’t care if you’re right or wrong…I am telling you to be the one to reconcile.’ ‘I don’t care if you do think it’s funny, you are giving the devil a chance to cause someone else to get hurt.’

Another reason to show sensitivity and meekness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ is this:¬† in doing so, you are discerning the Lord’s Body.¬† I wonder how many times, in ignorance, we have taken the Holy Communion after mistreating or holding a grudge against someone right in our congregation.¬† I don’t want to be weak or sickly…or asleep (whether it is spiritually or just plain dead!) over failing to discern the Body of Christ.¬† Only recently did I gain a deeper understanding of that Scripture.¬† I’d always assumed that it meant just not to partake of the Sacrament without repenting for our sins, asking for forgiveness if we’d wronged someone, or granting forgiveness in kind.¬† What if we simply have secret contempt toward another in the Body, and we nurse that contempt and allow it to take root?¬† Is our God not also offended by those things we mutter under our breath about others whom He created?¬† How important it is to Him that we love others as He does, and that we speak to them in a way that reflects His goodness!

Proverbs 18 tells us that a brother offended is harder to win than a strong city. Jesus, however, goes even farther to say that the Father doesn’t want our gifts if we bring them covered with the filth of offenses! “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt 5:23-24 ESV). He doesn’t say for us to go make it right only if it was our fault, He says to go and be reconciled, period! Choke down that pride and take the high road! It may take some work to break down that wall, but you do your part and with a right heart attitude…and then come back and finish your offering to God. He will receive it gladly if it’s tied with the ribbon of reconciliation!

I have a long way to go on the highway of holiness, but one thing I never ever want to do is to cause someone else to reject Jesus because of a flaw he or she sees in my attitude. We have heard that phrase that we are “the only Bible some people will ever read” until we no longer grasp the depth of its meaning. Don’t lose your ability to be salt and light just so that you can “be yourself.” Speak as if the whole world is listening…because it is.