Sitting in my office, a couple had just left an intense marital counseling session. They both had hurt one another deeply with their words and actions.
No matter the situations or relationships, communication matters. It can destroy relationships or restore relationships, set someone free or wound their soul.
What we say and how we say it matters. So whether we’re leading in church settings, nonprofits, or the marketplace, we need to be intentional about communicating wisely. Here are a few quick but powerful strategies for wise communication:
Seek wisdom before having important conversations, particularly if you are in leadership.
The Bible documents the importance of asking for wisdom in 2 Chronicles 1:7-12, “That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied to God, “You showed great and faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place. O Lord God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”.
God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people, I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future.”
Before I walk into a meeting, I ask the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and help me know what, when, and how to communicate.
The Bible says in Proverbs 18: 2, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Typically, we perceive what someone is saying to us through our own lens, and sometimes that lens is distorted. So, before making assumptions about something you may or may not have heard correctly, seek understanding.
Here’s a great example of what that looks like:
I heard from someone on my staff that a colleague was supporting a community event that didn’t line up with the vision of our organization. Instead of jumping to conclusions, I made an appointment with this person, and had a conversation. I began the conversation with, “I’m here because I want to seek understanding.” I genuinely wanted to understand her perspective so I could wisely and accurately address the situation.
Wise communication begins with listening.
Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give our families, friends, and colleagues, and helps us communicate wisely. The majority of communication is listening. I love Proverbs because it is filled with instruction on communication. Proverbs 17: 27, says, “A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.”
Have you ever been in a room full of people but the person speaking with you made you feel as if there was no else there? Someone who really listens fixes their eyes on you and asks questions throughout the conversation. You feel valued and heard. People equate being heard with being loved.
Choose your words carefully.
The most powerful leadership tool we have is our words. James 3:6 says that the tongue sets the course of life on fire. What a wonderful opportunity we have as life-giving leaders to create an atmosphere of blessing with our words, whether in our homes with our families, in business with our employees or churches with our fellow church members or teams. Proverbs 16:12, says, “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” What a privilege it is to daily practice blessing, affirming and encouraging others with your words. You will be amazed at the change in the atmosphere you choose your words wisely.
Julia is a follower of Christ, wife, mother, writer, communicator, licensed mental health therapist and Pastor of Small Groups at Bayside Community Church. Her book, Life-Giving Leadership: A Woman’s Toolbox for Leading, just launched on April 12th. She is the co-founder of Generation Eve, an online community for women focusing on leadership, relationships and parenting.