Series 2 - Bible Answers for...
Hello, friends! Welcome to this Bible study lesson on "Keys to Good Communication."
How we listen to others and what we say and don’t say can strengthen or
damage our relationships. Thankfully the Bible records a number of keys
that can help us understand others and be understood—which is the essence
of good communication.
We hope these biblical communication keys will be helpful to you in improving
your relationships. Please let us know if your have any questions or comments.
Lesson: Keys to Good Communication
God is the Great Communicator, and He has revealed many important communication principles in the Bible. By following these keys, we can strengthen our relationships and learn to think and act more like our loving Creator.
Esther 7 tells the dramatic story of the conversation in which Queen
Esther saved her people:
"So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther's banquet. And while they
were drinking wine that day, the king again asked her, 'Tell me what
you want, Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you,
even if it is half the kingdom!'
"And so Queen Esther replied, 'If Your Majesty is pleased with me and
wants to grant my request, my petition is that my life and the lives
of my people will be spared. For my people and I have been sold to those
who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us. If we had only been sold
as slaves, I could remain quiet, for that would have been a matter too
trivial to warrant disturbing the king.'
"'Who would do such a thing?' King Xerxes demanded. 'Who would dare
"Esther replied, 'This wicked Haman is our enemy'" (Esther 7:1-6, New Living
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What Keys to Good Communication Does the Bible Give?
What we say and how we listen to others is important to God. He warns
us that "death and life are in the power of the tongue" and that we must
give account of "every idle word" we speak (Proverbs 18:21; Matthew 12:36).
What summary principles for good communication and interpersonal
relations did James record?
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to
speak, slow to wrath...
Many of the communication pitfalls that wreck relationships come from
violating these three keys. We tend to be slow to listen but quick to
speak our minds, and in the resulting confusion and selfishness we are
very quick to get our feelings hurt and to get angry.
In this lesson we will focus on the first two points James made: being
swift to hear and slow to speak.
Swift to Hear
What happens if we are quick to speak instead of quick to hear?
He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.
It's natural to think we know what other people want or need before they
finish asking. And we generally assume that what we have to say is what
the other person should really be interested in hearing. Listening skills
are rarely taught and generally neglected.
"You've spent years learning how to read and write, years learning how
to speak. But what about listening? What training or education have you
had that enables you to listen so that you really, deeply understand another
human being from that individual's own frame of reference?" (Stephen R.
Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, pp. 237-238).
We have to overcome this lack of training by focusing on the other person
and forcing ourselves to try to understand his or her viewpoint before
sharing our own.
What mind-set must we avoid in order to truly understand another
A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
We all want to, and are taught to, express ourselves. But when our desire
for self-expression keeps us from trying to really understand the other
person, we are being foolish and selfish. This is the opposite of the
attitude the apostle Paul encouraged: "Let nothing be done through selfish
ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better
than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests,
but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).
Tips for improving our listening include:
- Smile and look the other person in the eye naturally (it's not a stare
- Ask questions to show you are interested and to clarify things you
aren't sure of.
- Look for common ground.
- Try to block out distractions.
- Don't focus on rehearsing what you will say next.
- If the person expresses strong feelings, try to acknowledge them without
becoming offended or angry yourself.
Slow to Speak
How did David ask God to help him with his communication?
Psalm 141:3, New Living Translation
Take control of what I say, O Lord, and keep my lips sealed.
Psalm 19:14, New Living Translation
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to
you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Obviously David didn't mean he wanted his lips permanently sewn shut.
Though we can't keep our lips sealed at all times, we all want our words
to be pleasing to God.
We can't get through life without communicating. In fact, Proverbs 10:19
clarifies that it is a "multitude of words" that generally causes the
problem. We should avoid being overly talkative and garrulous. Also we
must be very careful to think before we speak and to choose our words
carefully. Whatever we say should be edifying and intended to reflect
the nature of Christ and to glorify God.
Let's look at some of the keys God gives for good communication.
What should we choose to say?
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may
know how you ought to answer each one.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things
are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue
and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
God wants us to choose our words wisely. Blessings and praiseworthy information
should predominate our conversations. Matthew Henry's Commentary on
Colossians 4:6 explains, "Grace is the salt which seasons our discourse,
makes it savoury, and keeps it from corrupting."
What should be the tone of our talk?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this
is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
God's Spirit is the true source of our joy, and our reasonable response
should be thankfulness. The apostle Paul regularly let people know he
was thankful for them (1 Thessalonians 1:2), and we should follow his
What should we avoid saying?
Many destructive forms of communication, from profanity to gossip to
offensive comments, are covered in our lesson "Communication
How should we say what we say?
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools
pours forth foolishness.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuker
to an obedient ear.
...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who
is the head—Christ...
When we speak softly, kindly, wisely, truthfully and with love, we can
defuse negative feelings and promote positive relationships.
Tips for improving our spoken communication include:
- Speak clearly, avoiding jargon and confusing ramblings.
- Be respectful.
- Use "I" statements ("I feel uncomfortable when...") instead of accusing.
- Apologize when needed.
- Be forgiving.
- Don't rush or cut the other person off.
- Don't talk just to fill the silence.
- Express appreciation and encouragement.