“Words are not only bombs and bullets, no, they are little gifts, containing meaning!”(Philip Roth)
You probably have not considered it, but developing your communication style can be the most important life-changing event of your life.
How clearly you speak ─ how confident you are, how adeptly you deploy your body to effect, how skillfully you choose your words, the logical reasoning behind your thoughts, your attitude toward your listeners, your passion and natural ability to strike the right cords ─ all constitute your communication style. In other words, your communication style is defined by the way you communicate your ideas, feelings and thoughts to others.
Quite frankly, few people seem to place much value on what they say, why they say it, how they say it, where they choose to say it, and whether the timing and conditions are ripe for their interlocution. But why bother about these too technical details when you can just speak your mind directly and be done with it, as we say in Ghana, “go to town?” These precautions, after all, look and sound rather unnatural!
The simple answer is that it is better to risk looking or sounding unnatural and succeed with your communication than to be native, irrefutably raw and look stupid or sound ridiculous to your listeners. “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”(Proverbs 17:28)
The Jesus communication style
No one dead or alive got more from the art and science of communication than Jesus Christ. Confronted with the task of communicating the love of God to sinful, doubtful man, he planned his communication strategy, crafted his key message, and used the medium of the Holy Ghost and prayer in many astonishingly practical ways to get his message to his target audiences!
Whether he was healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, turning water into wine, rebuking the Pharisees or chasing them out of the temple with sticks (for merchandising his Father’s house), whether he was raising Lazarus from the dead, standing before the judgment seat of Pontius Pilate or shedding his blood on the cross ─ he did not depart from his message of love. As the Bible puts it insightfully, “he went about doing good.”(Acts 10:38)
Jesus so excelled in the administration of communication with man and with nature itself that his listeners exclaimed “…Never man spake like this man…” (John 7:46) And the evidence of his success remains unparalleled!
Hasty speech for hasty blows
The one black spot of many marriage relationships is the careless, often hasty manner couples throw words at each other when emotions rise. The natural man often speaks rashly, impulsively and imprudently for quick results. Many times, he/she speaks even before making time to reflect on what has been articulated. Such communication does not consider the absorption capacity of the listener, nor does it take their feelings into account! Some people are so fascinated with the sound of their own voices….they rattle on and on… in full monologues, completely dead to their environment. They can make you feel like a little school boy or girl, taking instructions from a dreadful headmaster! Woe betide you if your spouse is of this stock! “When words are many, sin is not absent.” (Proverbs 10:19)
Lord Chesterfield writes: “The manner of your speaking is full as important as the matter, as more people have ears to be tickled than understanding to judge”. Indeed, sometimes, fast talking could be a sign of nervousness or a possible lack of self-confidence. When your tongue and lips don’t harmonize with the chain of your thoughts, potholes begin to appear in your coherence!
Virginia Satir, a world renowned family therapist proposed four main communication styles, namely the “blamer”, “placater”, “computer” and “distracter” approaches. A husband, or a wife who is cast in the “blamer” communication mold would attack and blame others rather than accept blame. He or she feels superior in the relationship and uses this complex as a weapon to downgrade the other person. This style is at variance with the Jesus style, which is inherently opposed to false accusation or violent communication of any kind. (Luke 3:14)
The way to manage this situation if you find yourself at the receiving end of the blame is not to fight back directly, as this could lead to unnecessary domestic conflagration. A spouse who shows signs of this malady needs help, sympathy and love from a supporting partner rather than a corresponding reprimand. The more mature spouse would need to be patient, tolerant, tender-hearted and forgiving. (Ephesians 4:32) He or she must be resigned to prayer and loving correction, (Ephesians 4:29) and lead the other with grace. Gradually, even the most notorious “blamer” communicator can be guided out of this enslaving mold.