There are hundreds of thousands of books, podcasts, and seminars on how to communicate better. This is not surprising, as being able to communicate well is at the very heart of sustaining and enjoying the relationships we have with those around us. It is hard to discern where to go, what to read, or what to listen to, in order to become better communicators. Here we will seek God’s Word on His ideal foundations for communicating.
Communicating better is also something that does not come naturally. Many have been raised in homes that never taught healthy communication, while others have been taught healthy communication. Either way, as sinners we often communicate in a way that puts our selfish needs ahead of others.
There are several skills that we can learn in this area. As Christians, we shouldn’t be surprised that the God who created us for relationships with others has not failed to give us a guide on how to conduct ourselves within them. The Bible in fact gives us all the insight we need on how to communicate better.
Here are six Bible verses to can reflect on as we learn how to communicate better and improve the way in which we honor God through our speaking and listening.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23, NIV
This verse cuts to the very heart of the matter – our words and actions are driven directly by our inner motives. We may learn various strategies on how to communicate better with others. But no matter which words come out of our mouths or how silently we listen to others, if our hearts are not in the right place, our relationships will not progress.
Proverbs 4:23 speaks of the importance of guarding our hearts. All our words and actions flow from our hearts, and what we treasure will drive our desires and choices. If we’re looking to attain some sort of selfish ambition, and not looking to the interests of others as God has commanded us to do, our communication will not be built on the right foundation.
Before you have an important conversation with someone, ask yourself what your motive is and be honest about your answer. Sometimes we must take a step back and ask the Lord to redirect our hearts to align with His before a conversation should even take place.
The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. – Proverbs 16:21, NIV
This verse in Proverbs again links the state of our heart with what we say and how we say it. If we are looking for ways to communicate better, we need to start with self-examination.
We cannot speak gracious words which promote instruction if we are harboring negative thoughts toward the person to whom we are speaking. First, we need to confess any sinful feelings and then look to choose words that encourage and build up. Our words are extremely powerful, with Proverbs 16:24 saying that “gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
If we have been trapped in a negative communication cycle with someone, we can start to change the dynamic of the relationship through our words. When we pray about our communication with a particular individual with whom we may be struggling, the Lord can transform the words of our lips in an incredible way. He can also soften the other person’s heart to receive our words in the way in which they were intended.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. – Hebrews 12:14, NIV
If we are looking for ways to communicate better, this verse from Hebrews gives a lofty mandate. When we engage with others, harmony and peace need to be our priority, as opposed to getting our point across in whatever might be the most effective method. Can you imagine how many marriages would be saved, or how many treacherous workplace dynamics could be transformed if everyone was able to live according to this instruction?
Of course, we will not always get it right, but the verse itself acknowledges this. Yet if we keep God’s word fresh in our minds, our attempts to achieve positive communication will be strengthened over time. Holiness is at the core of our faith. By choosing holiness in our communication over the fleshly desire to sin, we can be amazing witnesses to Christ.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. – Ephesians 4:15, NIV
Seeking peace at all costs does not mean that we do not speak the truth and cover up our true feelings because it might create discord. Rather, we are instructed to “speak the truth in love,” according to this verse from Ephesians. When we do this, not only are we being obedient to God’s instruction, but we are more likely to get through to the person to whom we are speaking.
When we focus on how to communicate better by saying things in a loving way, the truth that we deliver (even if it is a hard one) will be more readily received. However, it is not our job to make sure a person receives it. Instead, our job is to be obedient to communicate in love what God has asked us to.
It takes discernment to ascertain whether a matter needs to be forgiven and forgotten, or whether the truth needs to be spoken. Praying about the situation will help to reveal God’s will in the situation so that we are not swayed by our inner biases. Often, we feel that we have sincere intentions, but this needs to be weighed by the Holy Spirit.
In the same way, when we are challenged by the truth, we need to receive a rebuke according to the manner it was intended. We need to remember that this is often the way in which we are sharpened by other loving members of our community, who truly desire our holiness and maturity.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. – James 1:19, NIV
The book of James makes it explicitly clear: we need to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. The principle of holding one’s tongue is emphasized in Proverbs 15:28, ESV, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”
It is also stated in Proverbs 10:19, ESV, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” When looking for advice on how to communicate better, the Bible gives us the useful principle of not being too quick to speak.
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. – Proverbs 13:3, NIV
Once again, God’s Word gives a strong warning about being very careful about what we say. This verse from Proverbs details the destructive nature of speaking rashly – speaking without carefully considering what we are saying.
Knowing how to communicate better, and in a godly way, is about having the self-discipline to not speak the harsh, unpleasant words that we desire to say at the moment. Instead, we can ask God to help us to measure how we phrase what we need to say, and, oftentimes, refrain from saying absolutely anything at all, given the risk of speaking rashly. As Matthew 12:36 says in the ESV, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
These are just six of many verses in the Bible regarding how we manage our interactions with others. Clearly, our words are very important to God. He wants us to strive earnestly towards truly improving our communication, in line with his standard.
Communication is not just about the words that we say, but also about how we receive the words that others say to us. Actively listening to another person is about being humble and giving the other person time to complete their thoughts without interrupting.
Often, in the context of an argument, we make assumptions about what the other person thinks and judge their words considering those assumptions. Learning how to communicate better means putting those assumptions to one side and focusing intently on what the person is saying. You can grow in this area by working closely with a compassionate Christian counselor.
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