Engaging with others is part of everyday life. We talk to our friends, family, coworkers, and strangers throughout the week. In my interpersonal relationships, I have seen room for growth in three aspects of communication. I also want to share some positive takeaways I have seen throughout the process.
Hopefully, what I am learning can be practical and encouraging to you as you talk with others.
1. listen first then speak
I enjoy sharing my thoughts when asked. In many conversations, I must listen to the person I am talking to first. When I focus more on speaking than listening, I have discovered that I consider my input more vital and consequently devalue the other individual’s thoughts.
In my own life, I have benefited greatly from friends who will listen to me and provide space for me to outwardly process rather than cut me off to share their input prematurely.
When talking with others, there have been times where the most caring thing I could do for a friend was to listen and not speak. Simply listen to their frustrations, sadness, and anxieties.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak.James 1:19
2. do not give simple answers to complex situations
Over the years, I have shared and heard a lot of heavy stuff regarding complex topics. I often wanted to take a difficult situation and boil it down to a singular issue and address it in a few sentences of advice. What I have noticed is that a circumstance that has had an impact on someone for years or decades cannot be resolved by one sentence.
Last month, I was talking to a close friend and he was sharing some deep hurt in his heart and frustration with God over some things he had been working through for years. I heard his situation and quickly presented a remedy of reading the bible and praying more. He looked at me and I could tell he was thinking, “Did you even hear a word I said?” He had been reading and praying, but he was still in a valley. In that moment, he needed a friend who would walk with him through the darkness and not leave his side as he journeyed through this hardship.
Yes, the message of Christianity can be simple enough for a child to understand; however, that does not mean all answers require a simple, quick solution.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.Romans 12:15
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.Ephesians 4:2
3. show grace
One of the greatest lies that we believe is that when we share who we are, people will reject or condemn us. Sadly, I know people who have grown up in an unhealthy environment and rarely open up about normal situations that all people face because of the fear of denial.
The grace found in the gospel of Jesus Christ destroys the idea of condemnation and hopelessness. Even the most painful and damaging situations are forgiven and provide living hope through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
I have experienced grace from my friends, and it is a clear reminder of God’s view of me. Grace also reveals that my situations are common to Christians, and the lie that I am alone in the fight is eliminated. I want to continually show grace to others because I have been given grace upon grace in my life.
Even if you have never experienced grace from others, be encouraged that God always shows grace.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.John 1:16
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.Romans 6:14
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Romans 8:1
questions to consider
- What are you learning from talking with others?
- Do you believe there is free grace given by God today?
- Who is one person you can encourage this week that is going through a difficult situation?