I love playing charades. We used to play it in high school and college. It always made me laugh. Some people are definitely better than others.

Charades is all about trying to communicate without saying words. It takes skill and creativity to get others to think about what we want to them to know. What is obvious to us is not always easy for our teammates.

People often communicate with others like charades. We know what we want to say but it just seems like others don’t understand. We get frustrated and quit trying.

But we can’t quit. Communication is the basic building block of any relationship. It is through communication that we convey our thoughts, feelings, and connect with others.

James 1:19 shares three simple communication skills. Learn and practice these and you will connect with others. Developing these skills is critical for successful relationships.

listen1 – Quick to Listen

Good communication depends on you carefully listening to another person. I want to talk to you about active listening.

Active listening is the ability to let others know you understand them. Rather than thinking about what we want to say, we actively listen while someone is talking. This involves listening attentively without interruption and then restating what was heard. You should be able to acknowledge the content and even the feelings of the other person. The active listening process lets the sender know whether or not the message they sent was clearly understood by having the listener restate what they heard.

For example, “I heard you say that you want me to pick up my own clothes. When I don’t you feel like I don’t care what the house looks like. Is that what you said?”

Anger2 – Slow to Anger

We read in Ephesians 4:26 that we should not let the sun go down while we are angry. This means that we must deal with anger quickly. We can’t always properly control our anger once it reaches a certain point. And some anger is appropriate. But we must not let anger control us.

In general, we get angry when we don’t get our way. So we are to be slow to get angry. Watch your ego and pride. Give God the situation. Pray to God before you say anything.

When anger becomes part of the conversation we revert to an emotional fighting stance. This means we are not about communication and unity. We are about protecting and attacking. When anger takes over, it’s best to step away and come back later. Slow the conversation down so anger doesn’t squelch the communication.

talk3 – Slow to Speak

Once we truly listen without getting angry, we should speak. The Bible commands that we talk about what is on our heart. “Speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). I want to talk to those who have a hard time expressing yourself to another. It is called assertiveness. Even though we should be slow to speak, we should make sure we don’t retreat to silence.

Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you want. It is a valuable communication skill. Rather than assuming another person can read our minds or decipher our hints, assertiveness shares how we feel and asks clearly and directly for what we want.

When a conversation has love and care, each person can express their opinions and feelings without feeling threatened. When each person knows what the other person feels and wants and when each knows they have been heard and understood, intimacy is increased.

So try this…

Write down a wish list of 3 things you would like more or less in your family. For example, “I wish our family talked more.” Or, “I wish our family didn’t argue as much.” After you have written them down, share one of your wishes with someone in your family. This will help you practice being assertive. Describe how you would feel if that wish came true. Allow the other person to listen, and repeat or summarize what they heard. Let them know if they were correct or you may need to add a little so they understand you completely. This allows them to practice active listening. Now flip and you listen while they share something they would like changed in the family. If this is a good experience, try sharing the other 2.

How good were each of you at being assertive?

In what ways did you each effectively use active listening skills?

You can read some of my other articles about family and communication: The Talking Stick, Miscommunication Mishap, 5 Nails to Hold Your Marriage Together.