Here is a tell-on me scenario. If my wife and I have a meaningful talk every night for six months and miss a night, she says we never talk. If we talk one night in six months, I say we always talk.
I can hear the head nodding on this one.
Inter-gender communication is an interesting thing. Most men can sit together for hours and laugh and joke or say very little of significance. They have a great time and there’s no communication problem. I’ve heard women get together and laugh and cry and joke and share deep longings together. There is no communication problem there either. I deliberately exaggerated here to prove a point. It doesn’t matter what men talk about and it doesn’t matter what women talk about it, we both talk more freely with our own gender.
In the beginning God created everything. First Adam, then Eve, were created. He out of clay of the earth and her out of his rib. These are interesting choices and clay can often turn as hard as bone. When this hardness affects our communication, it makes it hard to share any conversation let alone a meaningful one about goals and longings.
Imagine the first conversation Adam and Eve had. Suppose you fell asleep and there is the most exquisite perfect woman next to you when you wake up. She wasn’t there when you fell asleep!
I wonder if they had any difficulty in talking. There was no sin or anger. No history of hurt or pain. No lust or sinful desires. I am guessing they had great communication.
Plus, they had the whole world in common and God was their best friend. They had it pretty good until they allowed sin to enter their paradise.
Sin plays a huge part in messing things up between men and women. And between everybody really. Sin hurts people. Hurt people hurt people. When we communicate it is often to be heard and not to listen or we prepare our defenses as the other person is talking.
It is easier to talk to a hundred people at once than one person. That is because in an audience, it is less personal. The more personal the communication is, the higher chance there is for it to go wrong.
There are three parts to communication. There is the message. There is the sender of the message. There is the receiver of the message.
When I preach the message is the Gospel. When I am prepared and hopefully anointed by the Holy Spirit, the sender (me) is able to communicate well. Because the audience is willing to hear the message (the Gospel), it’s receiver (the audience) understands it.
I’ve also spoken to less friendly crowds and there is opposition to both me and the message. Even if the message is clear and I am able to communicate well, it is not received well. In this case, communication will not be successful and often leads to frustration. This is true if any one or more of the communication trio is broken or unable to function.
When a woman says to a man, “We have to talk.” This is like a warning shot over the bow. The man is scared and defensive before the conversation even begins. He is not able to be a good receiver. No matter how the woman is and no matter how good the message is, the anxiety in the man prevents him from hearing.
When a man grunts out a few commands to a woman or is gruff with her, the result is the same. The woman is nervous and scared of what is being communicated.
To communicate clearly and effectively I am convinced that the sender has to make himself or herself inviting and prayerfully cover themselves and the message in love. The message must be clear and said in a way that does not accuse or hurt the other person:
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it loving?
These are three sample questions to ask yourself about the message. And if you are on the receiving end, try to not let any negative thoughts or hurts prevent you from receiving the message. Take the stance of a student and try to learn what the person is actually trying to say. And above all cover the communication with love.
Sometimes “We have to talk” is a good thing!
Andy Becker is a retired counselor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon). He and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministries which offers love, hope, and encouragement to one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods, North Central Regina. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca