by Molly Audiss

Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” 

It is a rare and beautiful thing to be in a conversation with an excellent communicator. It just feels good! When the talking ends, you walk away having felt heard and understood. What a gift! Do you know someone who makes you feel that way when you talk to them? I can promise you that, if you have a friend like that, you try to find time to talk with them as often as you can!

How can we grow to become better communicators? A big part of communication is listening. If we desire to increase our communication skills, more time in our discussion will be spent in silence then in speaking. Active listening helps the other person feel heard and understood. What is “active” listening? This type of listening is giving your complete, focused attention. Keep eye contact the entire time someone is speaking to you. Interject small words throughout, to show that you are engaged in what the other person is saying. Lean in, smile, nod. Do not look at your watch, your phone, or off into the distance. Stay tuned-in. This is “active” listening.

There are also small phrases that you can use to encourage a person to feel relaxed and feel free to say whatever they are thinking. Remember to listen to understand, not to fix. We can listen without giving opinions or advice. Here are a few phrases that help others feel that you with them and for them. I like to call these “Relationship Helpers.”

I hear you. Go for it!

I love it! Great idea! Perfect!

Sounds good to me.

Whatever you think.

Tell me more about….

I can see that.

That’s fair. That’s great!

These are encouraging phrases that compliment and praise. There is nothing judgmental in these phrases. I actually have a memo on my phone with these phrases typed out; it is a reminder to me to use these phrases. I look over them in print sometimes before I go into a meeting or to a meal with friends, to spur me to use my words wisely.

Some things we say can build walls by making others feel defensive or guarded. They are “Relationship Killers.” Before long, people will want to talk with you less, if you make them feel judged or interrogated. Notice the difference in how negative these phrases sound…..

Why don’t you just…. You’re kidding, right? If you would only…

What were you thinking?

I’d never do that.

I just don’t see it.

Is that even logical?

That won’t get you anywhere. You’re not making any sense. Whatever.

Don’t ask me….

Fine, just do what you want.

I’m not getting involved.

Why would you say that?

Sometimes phrases we say are old habits, and we don’t even realize how they sound to others. Then we wonder why we struggle in certain relationships. Learning the art of communication takes changing our words and our demeanor. It takes effort, but the payoff of improved relationships is SO worth it!

“The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.”

Ecclesiastes 9:17