Honest Communication in Healthy Relationships
By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/24/2006 | Marriage
We shall begin with honest communication. You cannot have communication without shear honesty. You would agree wouldn't you? No one likes to be lied to and certainly no one will trust you if you are not honest.
The Bible principle is found in Ephesians 4:25 which says, "Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."
Therefore, always be honest, it certainly is the best policy. However, in saying that, you must be mindful of two important procedures when being honest. The first, be sure to speak truth in love. At times honesty will be painful; therefore, you should consider saying what needs to be said with tenderness and compassion.
You should always take into consideration of the one you are speaking with, in other words, empathize with them. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you were the one being told what you are about to tell them.
The second issue to consider is this; determine if what you are going to say is necessary at all to be said. Some things can go without being said and it will not hurt anyone. Now, of course, I am not speaking about the nonsensical idea that "it does not hurt anyone what they do not know."
There are definitely issues that hurt others whether they know it or not, but some things just do not need to be said at all.
Just as important as being honest, we must work to understand and be understood. William James said, "There is no greater lie than a truth misunderstood." Thus, if you are misunderstood or you misunderstand you still do not have the truth. It is imperative that you work at understanding what the other person is, indeed, saying, and that you are understood.
How do you do this? What do you do to understand? What do you do to be understood? There are some very practical principles to follow such as:
Listen with genuine ears
Listen with empathy
Listen with respect
Listen with your ears and heart
Summarize what you thought you just heard them say
Use I and not you, "I feel like..." not "You make me feel..."
Interpret negative statements (Interpret to yourself, ask yourself what are they really saying and then respond accordingly)
You are on sacred ground when someone is sharing their heart with you. It is wise to take it seriously and treat it accordingly. Perhaps the best way to ensure you are treating the knowledge of someone's inner thoughts with respect, and honor is to look at yourself as a translator.
Begin to try to understand what is being said to you so well that you could translate it to someone else and be completely accurate with the content.