--Matthew 11:15 (NLT)
Invariably, each of us look no further than our own role and participation in any given dialogue or conversation. It's not uncommon to hear statements like, "He never listens to me" or "It's like in one ear and out the other" or "I feel ignored when I'm talking" or "When I try to talk, the conversation shifts to being about the other person" or "All we do is yell, scream, and curse at each other...there is no conversation. It's a shouting match". Do any of these statements sound familiar?
Effective communication is a skill that takes practice, patience, time, and effort. There is no better teacher than the Master of communication--Jesus! Study the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Jesus routinely offered platforms for people to share their hearts--their concerns, experiences, frustrations, doubt, or pessimism. He met people where they were. He listened expertly and with great care and compassion. If we observe, implement, and apply
the techniques He used to effectively communicate--we will be on our way to healthier, more mutually satisfying relationships.
The following is an original, biblically-based model downloaded by the Holy Spirit entitled, "The EARS Technique for Effective Communication":
1. E (Engage)
- This is the first step in effective communication, and the most critical as it is the foundation of communication. Afford others a platform to converse. Engagement involves non-judgmental interaction and setting a tone of safety and interest in what is on another person's heart. Engagement is not giving advise, suggestions, or counsel. It's the preliminary stage of communication designed to allow the conversation to evolve into a more meaningful and in depth dialogue.
2. A (Attention)
- Attention is key. If we are inattentive, we have lost our audience and essentially shut down communication. We demonstrate that we are attentive through eye contact and body language. This shows that the speaker has our full attention. There are no distractions if we are fully attentive. This means we are not looking at our cell phones, watching TV, or sitting with our arms folded, gazing into the great unknown, waiting for our chance to speak. Even if we do not like what is being said, we must model restraint by not cutting a person off or speaking over them. This is the time to listen prayerfully through a filter of God's grace, compassion, and love. If we enact this technique of prayerful attention, the Holy Spirit will give us what we need to navigate even the most difficult conversation.
3. R (Response)
- Jesus was masterful at this. He knew how to respond with understanding--whether it was with a pointed question, an empathic tone of voice, or a parable. His responses always evoked some type of change or movement. When Jesus spoke, people felt heard and acknowledge. His responses brought relief (John 2:1-11), deliverance (Luke 8:26-39), hope (Mark 9:14-29), healing (Matthew 8:1-27), freedom (John 8:1-11), inspiration (John 3:1-20), direction (Luke 5:1-6), and encouragement (Matthew 16:13-20). No one ever left His presence feeling unheard or unconsidered.
4. S (Survey)
- Take an honest assessment of dialogue. Was Christ emulated through your words? It takes humility to ask someone else if he feels heard or understood. But, this is part of it. We may think we did a good job of listening...but how does the other person feel about our efforts to engage, be attentive, and respond in a way that demonstrates a heartfelt desire to improve communication? Acknowledge the response and prayerfully consider what has been shared. Be introspective. Invite the Holy Spirit to continually help you. We have been empowered with a divine, supernatural ability to communicate like a boss when we humbly follow the Master.