Big Capacity Communication
All of us know how horrible it feels to be spoken down to – to be on the receiving end of non-gracious communication, whether verbal or written. Sometimes, subtle tones or little nuances even in our digital communication can be misunderstood or unknowingly offensive. Let’s consider that.
What does this have to do with growing your capacity?
The kind of “big capacity” I’m speaking of gets its inspiration from the book of Isaiah in the Bible, chapter 54, and the analogy I’ve used of our lives being a “tent” or covering, providing shelter for others. Verse 2 of that chapter says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare…”
The kind of “big capacity” I’m speaking of doesn’t “spare”, but rather has a generous heart towards others. This big capacity doesn’t have a selfish purpose, but it’s for the purpose of giving. This generous heart should affect our communication. Communication is SO important. Not only is it so important to simply open up and communicate, but also the WAY in which we communicate is important. Do we communicate in a “closed heart” kind of way? Or do we communicate in a “do not spare” kind of way: open, wide and generous?
I have often said to those I “do life” with: Let’s agree that we can communicate absolutely anything with one another, but it’s HOW we say it to one another that’s important.
The word gracious is defined as – courteous, kind and pleasant; very polite in a way that shows respect.
Gracious communication first requires that we have grace for ourselves. This verse below, also from the Bible, in the book of Romans verses 5:1,2 helps me to have grace toward myself, and then in turn, others:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
“Grace in which we now stand” is the point. It’s the AMAZING GRACE I stand in that is ALSO the place I want to COME FROM in my communication to others. It’s a struggle to get that right at times! But that picture really helps me. It’s a visual to remind me that gracious communication towards others is not based on how they’ve acted or what they’ve done, but I’ve got it to give because I’m standing IN IT.
At the risk of seeming corny, 🙂 I have come up with “3 Cs” for Gracious Communication:
Class – This means communication of a “high quality”. I don’t mean big words or lofty talk. I mean clear and with respect. Let’s show all people enough respect to communicate well and to do that WITH kindness. My husband has helped me to learn to communicate more thoroughly – to communicate in a way that I believe is clear, and then throw it even wider. This shows respect to those I’m speaking to – shows that I’ve considered them and that I am honoring them by taking the time to make sure there is clarity between us.
Character – Someone’s character has to do with how they think, feel and behave, which REALLY comes through in one’s communication! Character is a big picture issue that we need to work on, but let’s make sure that our good character attributes make their way through in the way we communicate.
Confidence – When I was a small girl I was shy. I’m so grateful that my mother taught me that shyness can be mistaken by others for being “stuck up” or unfriendly. Fear is always an enemy. Growing confidence in our lives is so helpful in communication! Even when communicating to those we would “look up” to, lack of confidence can cause us to communicate in an unclear or short manner, which can come across as a lack of respect, when that wasn’t our intention at all! (P.S. You build confidence by using it! – Like muscles.)
These “3 Cs” can be applied in our digital communication too – emails and all forms. Text messages are designed to enhance our efficiency in life by allowing for quick communication. So it’s appropriate that texts be short, but let’s not completely drop the manners we would have in face-to-face conversation. At times a curt reply can be SO brief that it’s rude! I try to embellish my response enough to at least sound polite.
If a text message is designed for quick communication, then it shouldn’t linger there for days, unanswered. It’s not a letter or an email. I’m not a fan, nor is anyone, of hunting down answers or RSVPs…. In our house and on our team of leaders we try to live by the practice of answering messages within 24 hours. If I can’t answer properly, I’ll at least acknowledge that message and let the sender know that they WILL receive a reply from me soon. I feel that anything less communicates disrespect for one another.
When we turn down an invitation or are unable to participate in something, it’s helpful to not just say “no” or “I can’t”, but to also explain some of the why, however much of the why is possible. It is just so helpful in relationship to communicate well.
When you need to back out of something you’ve committed to, it’s so important to say, “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t foresee this thing that has come up” and to acknowledge the implication of what this now means for someone else to pick up these pieces. These things seem small, but make a BIG difference in our relationships.
And what about those times that you have been spoken wrongly to, disrespected or ignored in communication? When this has happened to me, when possible I will respond as little as I can in the moment and give myself a little bit of space and time to think and to pull up from that grace that I “stand in” before I really communicate. In the book of Romans, verses 19 and 20 we read, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
The word “enemy” here is probably a bit extreme for most of us in our daily communication, but when you’re challenged or have been offended, the one who has communicated wrongly can seem like an enemy in the moment. The art of good communication is to speak to the heart. Meet the need in the one being offensive and you diffuse the situation. If there’s fear behind it, allay those fears. If there is hurt behind it, soothe it. If it’s just plain frustration or tiredness, give it time. (More wisdom I’ve learned from my hubby! I watch astounded at times when he is able to navigate difficult communication by putting these things into practice.)
In the end, the heart of gracious communication is to BE BIG. Grow your capacity. Grow your communication.
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:1 “Aptly” – something done in a competent, appropriate or suitable way.