Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Need for Change in Communication

Do you know why we struggle to communicate?

“There is no one righteous, not even one; Romans 3:10 (NIV)

The sin of Adam has taken mankind, who was created to have a moral capacity and a spiritual resemblance to God, and brought us to a place of complete depravity. The Bible says things like we are lost, blind, without hope, completely depraved, walk in darkness, sons of disobedience, unrighteous, unprofitable, under the wrath of God, and uses other descriptive words to describe our state. Not exactly a bright and cheerful picture of you is it.

Even though the Believer in Christ has been freed from the curse of sin and death we still have the flesh to contend with every second of every day. Over time the flesh is subdued by the Spirit but still we fight the urges of the old way of life! It comes out most clearly in how we communicate with each other.

There are two main categories of communication- Verbal and Non-verbal.

Verbal communication includes speaking, screaming, yelling, singing, cursing, laughing, and grunting just to name a few of the common ones.

Then we have the non-verbal methods of communication. Those would be things like body language, arm crossing, eye rolling, gesturing, dress/clothing, and the way you carry yourself. I am sure you can add things to both of these lists that I haven’t thought of.

Now, take a minute and think about some of the ways you communicate with others at home? Do you do things from the lists above? Are they good things or bad things? Think about your last argument or disagreement with someone. Was it verbal? Did it contain name calling or even cursing? Were there hurtful words flying around? Was there screaming, ranting, raving, or threats? Was the phrase “I hate you” used? How about wishing them dead or in hell?

Was it non-verbal? Turning on the big freeze, refusing to talk at all, but thinking everything you really wanted to say. Door slamming, walking out, pot banging, and foot stamping are all non-verbal methods of communication.

We communicate with all parts of our bodies. The sayings, “If looks could kill I’d be dead,” he was “shooting daggers out of his eyes,” indicate that eyes are powerful non-verbal communicators. Eye rolling indicates the “oh brother” thoughts going on in the mind, downcast eyes reveal shame and fear.

Overall our faces are great communicators. Frowns, wrinkled foreheads, pressed and pinched lips tell you things about me and what is going on in my thoughts and heart.

How we dress also can communicate a message. When a guy shows up for a date in dirty jeans and tee-shirt it can be an indication of how much value he places on his date. Young ladies who dress in a provocative manner are sending clear non-verbal messages to everyone who looks at them as well.

How you sit or stand or carry yourself is also a revelation of what is going on in your heart. Slumped shoulders, hands stuffed in pockets, shuffling down the street can be an indication that a person is burdened, despondent or sorrowful.

Did you ever notice the most eager students seem to sit in the front of the class? I notice where people sit in our counseling classes. The really eager ones sit in front, and they tend to lean forward with interest.

In my counseling office, a counselee with crossed arms is not a good sign. A counselee who pulls the chair up to the desk indicated he or she is interested in what is being said and a husband who sits as far away from his wife as he can get is also sending a clear non-verbal message.

So what does God’s Word say about these types of communication? All these forms of communication come from somewhere. They have become patterns and habits of living that come from the internal, invisible part of each of us that the Bible refers to as the heart of a man.

Next time we are going to look at the role of the heart in communication.

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