In most relationships, we’ll encounter problems and conflict at some point. As those difficulties arise, we’ll often need to become translators, negotiators, diplomat, and peacekeepers in order to find a solution. And at times like these, good communication skills are essential. It’s really frustrating to be misunderstood, misheard, or ignored. But we have to be careful how we approach it. We need to talk to understand each person’s perspective on what’s gone wrong, but sometimes we can end up empowering the problem if we focus too much on talking about what’s wrong rather than working towards finding a solution. God has given us the gifts we need to change the situation. If we misuse our words or let them come from a place of anger, it can lead us away from a solution we would otherwise see. James tells us that what we say has immense power for destruction. ‘The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire’ (James 3:5 NLT). Just our tone of voice can escalate a conversation into a raging fire, but our words can also bring calmness and light to a difficult situation. Responding appropriately often needs quietness and careful reflection. There are times when it’s better to remain quiet and step away from the situation for a few minutes. When we’re anxious, chances are we’ll over-talk. When we’re angry, we can make the situation worse. And when we’re too aggressive, we risk damaging the relationship and hurting the other people involved. The Bible says, ‘If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong.’ Let’s remember that whenever we need to have a difficult conversation.
Have a think about all your conversations yesterday, and assess how you handled them and the words you used. Can you see any room for improvement? Would God be pleased with the way you handled each situation?
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