Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Developing effective communication in Relationships

Its been a very long weekend. Barely had time to catch my breath nor the chance to finish some articles that I've been working on. The past three days were packed with speaking engagements, event hosting, and lots of singing. Right now my voice is hoarse and my throat hurts so talking is painful.

 This means I am forced to keep quiet and rest. For someone who is driven to talk a lot, this is the worst thing that could happen. I am not good at being quiet except when I absolutely have to. Talk is my trademark, my tool of trade.

While driving home last night and mulling over my enforced silence, the holy spirit ministered the purpose and benefits of my keeping mute. I've been so busy running around that I'd barely heard time to truly fellowship with God. My quiet time had been subsumed in morally right activities with no quality moments with God except hurriedly whispered prayers as I zoomed through the day. The "noise" of too many activities was affecting my ability to hear God. I was speaking to God and not talking with Him and there is a huge difference there.. This one way communication was gradually touching a spiritual nerve and I was doing myself more damage than good. It was time for a spiritual relationship intervention or sit down!
Photo Credit:www.communicationskillsforcouples.com.
Man is created for relationship and effective communication is integral for every relationship to thrive. This entails the active involvement of both the speaker and listener including the environment in which the communicative event takes place. A lot of people make great speakers but bad listeners and this is a major cause of relationship breakdown. Lets examine factors that make a good communication event and how it can enhance your relationship.
THE ENVIRONMENT: Gen 3:8 "then the man and his wife heard the sound Of the Lord God as he was walking in the evening in the cool of the day". God came visiting His creation in the cool of the day not when its hot and sunny; in an idyllic setting. Effective communication cannot take place in a noisy environment neither does relationship thrive in stormy circumstances. Its just like discussing love matters in a packed stadium during a football match for that matter. In such an event, the speaker will be shouting and we know shouting is not communication while the listener is busy sifting through the noise to make meaning of what is being said. Both are thereby struggling to benefit from the communicative event.
ii. value becomes lost given the non- conducive  environment.
iii. communicative event becomes non productive.
iv. Relationship breakdown.
. So find or create the niche environment that works for you.
THE SPEAKER; the speaker must have something of value to share with the listener. "everything you say should be kind and well thought of" Colossians 4:6.  you should leave a communication event better than when you started. God has something beautiful to say and wants to hear what you have to say too-communication is a two way event. No right thinking person bursts into a scene, have his say and walks out without expecting a response that would be a monologue not dialogue. In a relationship you talk not speak as talk is more engaging
THE LISTENER: listening is an essential skill in communication. Some people are great speakers but horrible listeners as mentioned earlier. That is why listening is an art form that can be cultivated "be quick to listen but slow to speak" James 1:19. In the rush of too many words we may inadvertently hurt another.
DON'T USE WORDS AS WEAPONS: have you heard you  the poem "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? well, that's so not true! Hateful words cause deeper wounds and leave emotional scars. So watch it.

BE CLEAR: Say what you mean and mean what you say-no double meaning.
BE MINDFUL OF NEGATIVE BODY LANGUAGE: Body language is a non verbal form of communication that may reveal clues to a person's real intention. It might be unspoken but speaks volume in touch, gesture and perception. Sometimes before you open your mouth to speak, your body has done all the talking.

FEEDBACK: Feedback is the response of an audience to a message. it shows the participant in the communication even understands what has been transmitted and provides an adequate response. It shows the communication has truly involved the participants. Don't assume your partner understand what has been said, ask for their opinion or input on the matter.
MAKE AN EFFORT; Scriptures records that Jesus gets up early while it was still dark to Pray. Mark 1:35. Jesus recognised the necessity of making time for God. Nobody can lay claim to be busier than Jesus but he consciously carved out time for fellowship with God. He understood the importance of communication to  his relationship with God and success in ministry.
A lot of couples are caught in the mad rush to make ends meet and important communications are most times shared via e mails, text and phone calls. Most face to face encounters are made brushing past each other as they rush to work and small talks at bed time. No wonder a lot of relationships are suffering. Technology is meant to enhance not replace face time. For any relationship to thrive, communication must be deliberate and proper face time deliberately ear marked.
SEEK IT OUT: Yes! seek quality communication with your partner don't just wish it into existence. Remember it takes making an effort. In Genesis 3, God sought Adam and Eve out. He didn't leave the job to his creation alone. He went looking for them.
CONCENTRATION: I love the idea of date nights for couples. Just two of you without interference from the children. Its a perfect chance to catch up with each other and steer the focus off diapers and school fees. Date night allows couples focus on each other without distraction. It create room for concentration. Please, this not the time for facebook chat, remember why you are there.

KNOW YOUR PARTNER: Ofcourse you know your partner but do you know his/her temperament? Use your knowledge to create a communicative event that suits his/her personality. Some people love a build up to request while some want it direct. For instance, a friend would wake her husband in the middle of the night to have serious discussion but that strategy will only drive me nuts! I don't like being woken from sleep simple! It doesn't matter the topic is, I'd appreciate it before my sleep but it works for her. When I was younger,it was an unwritten rule never to ask anything from my dad until he is rested and eaten after a hard day at work. Every request must be made after the evening news. He was always cranky pre-dinner!

Some times strategic intervention such as counselling are required to rekindle the spark, if so seek it . Every successful relationship involves two matured adult who are are willing to make the necessary efforts to make it so.  For Zechariah the father of John the baptist, His tongue was stilled so  the promise of God will not be delayed because of unbelief thankfully mine is a simple sore throat. Quietness is not my strength but it can be learnt. Perfect chance to catch up on my bible reading plan and simply bask in the warmth of God's love. It'll be a long appreciated rest in stillness and quietness not to forget requisite mug of green tea. That can't be too bad.

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