The author of the book of James (credited to be Jesus’ half-brother) pens for us three ways towards better communication and relationships. In one simple and straightforward verse, Scriptures enlighten us on how to nurture fruitful communication and relationships. James chapter 1 verse 19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
1. Quick to Hear.
Here, we pose ourselves to listen first and allow the other person to air out his sentiments. In being quick to hear, the intent is to understand first and to form judgments last. In being quick to hear, one becomes open to the possibility that he might be wrong and sees the benefit in listening to what others have to say.
Conversations mostly lead to arguments and shouting matches when no one wants to listen and when both parties keep judging and reacting to statements rather than purposing to understand the cause and context of what’s being said. In being quick to hear, the goal is to discover what is true or to reach a compromise on something that is right and fair to both parties. Conversations fail when no one wants to consider the needs and wishes of another. Conversations never work when one simply wants his own way or when one is closed to other people‘s views. Needless to say, in order to be quick to hear, we must allow the Holy Spirit to rid us of pride and self-centeredness. To be quick to hear, we need to learn humility and to be more considerate and patient with others.
2. Slow to Speak.
Here, we pose ourselves to remain objective and tackle issues with our mind reigning over our emotions. It can be difficult to hold our tongue when there are hurtful or untrue words against us. But, it is more beneficial to delay speaking back until our mind gets a full hold and understanding of what is being communicated to us. In the heat of arguments, a lot of details get lost. Emotions overwhelm both parties and conversations often lead to blaming and rehashing old hurts. More rift is created and things end up farther from resolution.
In being slow to speak, the goal is to respond with words that bring understanding and clarity to the issues being tackled. To be slow to speak is to take account of the words we choose to use in order to deal with the matter at hand. To be slow to speak is to avoid sharing thoughts that have no relevance to the present matter. To be slow to speak is to maintain awareness and care that we don’t just react with hurtful and retaliatory words. To be slow to speak is to desire understanding to hopefully take place.
3. Slow to Become Angry.
Even with great care, consideration, and patience, not all discussions end well. Not all relational conflicts resolve in an instant, hence, the need to be slow to anger. Declare your views, explain your side. Make an effort to bring clarity. Seek to right any wrong on your part. What’s important is you’ve done what you could to communicate and resolve conflicts. Rightness needs no constant explaining or convincing. Let the matter go and choose to allow the other person to maintain his own view. Choose “not” to resent. In time, what is right and true will be made plain. And even if they don’t, at least you know then which relationships are good to keep and which are best to let go.
Also, there are times when it’s okay to end with opposing views. Not all people think alike and it’s okay. Don’t desire people to agree with you all the time. Don’t desire your own way all the time. Understand that you can’t always be right. Know that your ways are not always the best ways. Be mindful of this and you will experience growth in your communication and relationship skills.