Communication: Key to Effective Relationships Part II
"Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your 'Yes' be yes, and your 'No,' no, or you will be condemned."1
If you are a parent, I'm sure you have noticed the profound difference in the response when you call your kids on a hot day to tend to their chores or call them to come in for their favorite cold drink and a chocolate ice cream!
We adults aren't that much different … a little more subtle perhaps, but as the communicators remind us we all pretty much hear only what we want to hear and see only what we want to see. To complicate matters even more, because of selective distortion, we see things the way we want to see them. That is, we see things not the way they are but the way we are.
Selective distortion means that we distort messages to make them match our values and/or perception of reality. For example, the more dishonest I am with my inner self (my true emotions and motives), the more I will distort all messages to make them match my values and/or perception of reality. I will even distort God's Word to make it say what I want it to say.
In other words we all see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear, see things the way we want to see them, distort them to make them match our perception of reality, and finally, because of selective retention, we remember only those things we want to remember—everything else is conveniently forgotten.
These dynamics happen not only in political races, but also at every level of society and affect all our relationships. While political campaigns fortunately pass, relationships are with us forever.
For effective relationships effective communication is vital. This includes avoiding the distortion of reality and speaking the truth truthfully as well as listening without distorting what we are hearing.
There are many words of advice one could give regarding how to communicate effectively, but the bottom line is this: be real! For instance, the more unreal or in denial I am (the more repressed and dishonest with my true emotions and motives), the more I will distort all facts, messages, and communications to make them match my perception of reality. On the other hand, the more real, honest, and truthful I am, the clearer I will see all other truth, including God's truth, and the less I will distort these.
The fact remains, without access to the truth—including one's own inner truth—there are no authentic relationships and no effective communications.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be real and always honest with my true emotions and motives. And please deliver me from any form of distortion when listening to others and in all that I say. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. James 5:12 (NIV).