Breaking through the Sound Barrier – by Rick Warren

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

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Poor communication is the most frequently mentioned problem in marriage counseling. To really communicate, you must give up three things.

You must give up your assumptions. We get into trouble when we start assuming we understand the meaning of what people say to us. The truth is everything you hear goes through a filter. Your filter is determined by your past experiences and your unique personality.

You may not be hearing what the other person is really saying. Therefore, it’s smart (and safe) to ask for clarification. There are six possible messages every time you speak:

  • What you mean to say and what you actually said.
  • What they heard and what they think they heard.
  • What they say about it and what you think they said about it.

Proverbs 18:13 (NLT) says, “What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts!”

You must give up your accusations. You never get your point across by being cross. Anger and sarcasm only make people defensive and that kills communication.

Here are four common forms of accusation:

  1. Exaggerating – Making sweeping generalities like “You never” or “You always.”
  2. Labeling or derogatory name calling – Labeling never changes anyone. It only reinforces the negative behavior.
  3. Playing historian – Bringing up past failures, mistakes, and broken promises.
  4. Asking loaded questions which really can’t be answered, like “Can’t you do anything right?”

You must give up your apprehensions. Fear prevents honest communication. It causes us to conceal our true feelings and fail to confront the real issues. The two most common apprehensions are the fear of failure and the fear of rejection.

But real communication can happen when you face your fear and risk being honest. Freedom is the result of openness. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT)