Seven Keys to Communication
- Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Now, there's a balance here that we need to achieve, especially with younger children. Children should know that they can't come barging in at any time and expect their parents to drop whatever they're doing and give the children their full attention. They need to be trained to be respectful, polite, and considerate. At the same time, parents need to recognize the difference between a child being rude or disrespectful and needing training or correction, and a child simply needing the parent to pause and communicate.
Go through the Gospels and notice that Jesus, the greatest communicator who ever lived, not only taught and answered questions, but asked questions. We need to ask questions of our children. "How are you doing today? Have you been praying like you should? Did you read your Bible today, son? How do you feel about such and such? Do you know that Dad loves you?"
I could give dozens of questions to ask your children, ranging from simple questions about everyday life to those that touch on the foundational issues of who we are and what we believe. "Why is it important to put things away? Why should we pay bills on time? What did the sermon you heard at church say to you?" Questions open doors for communication, and they not only help us learn more about each other, but cause us to think through important issues.
Learn to Draw Emotional Word Pictures
This is especially important if you're having difficulty communicating with a certain person. The goal of drawing emotional word pictures is to communicate in such a way that you reach not only the person's mind, but the heart as well. This works with both men and women, but especially with men. You want to grab his heart in such a way that he can't get away from it. A profound example of this concept is found in the Bible in 2 Samuel 12.
In the previous chapter, we read about the biggest failure in the life of King David—his adultery with Bathsheba. In an attempt to cover up what he had done, David arranged for Bathsheba's husband to be killed in battle.
In chapter 12, God sent Nathan to David. Nathan was something of a spiritual adviser to David, and in this chapter, he comes to reprove David for what he has done. He begins by telling a story that contains a compelling emotional word picture.
There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished up, and it grew up together with him, and with his children.
Notice that every word here is building the emotional impact. Nathan continued with the story: "It did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter." David, who had spent his youth as a shepherd caring for sheep, could closely identify with the poor man and his love for that lamb.
And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
We see the emotional impact this story had on David in the next verse: "And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die." Nathan's reply to David, as a follow-up to the powerful emotional word picture he had just drawn, brought the point home in a way that nothing else could have done: "Thou art the man."
The key in drawing an emotional word picture is to find a person's interest, if possible something close to his heart, and then draw a parallel between that and whatever situation you're dealing with. The power of Nathan's words came from the fact that David could so closely identify with the poor man in the story. He knew what it was to care for lambs. He had put his own life on the line to protect and defend his sheep. The terrible cruelty of the rich man, who wasn't content to draw from his own immense resources but instead chose to steal and kill the poor man's lamb, came to life for David in a powerful way. When Nathan drew the comparison between David and the rich man, David finally realized the full weight of his sin.
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