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Communicating in Love
Sara J. Rassler
Dr. Ripley Smith 12/14/2010
COMMUNICATING IN LOVE INTRODUCTION
I have spent my entire life listening and talking with people in an effort to help them. My life goal is to help just one person in the world and to change their life for the better. That goal cannot be reached without Love.My entire philosophy of communicating is based upon Love. I capitalize Love in this form because I am talking about the Love which originates from God. While I don¶t always like or love someone, I always Love everyone with the Love of Christ because we are commanded to do so in Matthew 22:39 (New International Version).
LANGUAGE One aspect that is shared throughout all types of communication is language. Many Christians don¶t agree on which words are acceptable to use and which words aren¶t, but James 3 teaches how we should bridle our tongue and all language should be for the glory of God. Also, with my beliefs on Love, all language that I speak should be out of Love. Language is something I struggle with, I grew up in a secular home and I have been swearing since I figured out that people use curse words to convey anger. I have grown in leaps and bounds since I¶ve been in college to tame my tongue and I believe all my words should convey Love and be words that I would say if I were talking to Jesus.
MEDIA My thoughts on communicating with, and through, media are different than most. Firstly, communicating through media; more specifically, the internet. I am part of three online forums with multiple online friends. While it is difficult to explain just how close these friends are, I feel like I am closer with them than I am with people I see face-to-face on a regular basis. The
COMMUNICATING IN LOVE internet is a huge part of my life because I have formed many lasting friendships through it. The internet is worldwide and it goes where I go so my friends are always right at my fingertips. Secondly, I communicate with the media on a regular basis through newspapers, the internet, and television. Similar to how I communicate through media; the internet is my most
used medium for collecting information from the media. It takes more work to get news from the internet because I have to check who I am getting the story from and I often check multiple news sites to make sure the stories line up. Accountability in the media through the internet is more lenient than that of newspapers or television, but it is also easier to access, is consistently available, and is updated more frequently. The internet is a huge part of my communicating live and I am comfortable with that fact. While I do believe people can misuse or overuse the internet, if used correctly I think it is a great medium for information. I enjoy communicating with and through the media, and with people, using the internet.
INTRAPERSONAL COMMUNICATION Christ calls all Christians, which includes me, to Love God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Matt. 22:37). If I am to Love God, it means I am to Love all of His creation, myself included. Therefore, by Loving myself as God¶s sacred creation, I am not supposed to put myself down or speak against myself. Personally, it is harder for me to Love myself than it is to Love others. My self-esteem is low. I have many insecurities when it comes to my intelligence, my abilities, and my relationships. Although I¶m often told that I portray myself as cool, collected,
COMMUNICATING IN LOVE and confident, inside I feel like my stomach is tying itself into knots while hummingbirds fly around in it and like I have the heart rate of a squirrel. Ronald B. Adler and George Rodman wrote (2009) in Understanding Human Communication that there is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy. While I have seen it
happen where people believe they will do well and do well, or believe they will do poorly and do poorly, I am not of this type. I often believe I will do poorly on all things, but I never earned lower than a B on any test until I arrived at college. I didn¶t do well because I took easy classes, because I took honors and college courses in high school, but I always did well without having to put too much effort into things. I am naturally intelligent. Self-fulfilling prophecies may be true and with my low self-esteem I should be doing poorly, but I always seem to come out with fantastic results. Overall, my intrapersonal communication is not usually Biblical because I have such a low self-esteem that I often think negatively of myself. However, I know I should Love myself as God¶s creation, I should Love myself as I Love others.
INTERPERSONAL AND DYADIC COMMUNICATION As much as I enjoy talking, listening is much more important in my life because it is the main way to help others. I¶m only eighteen years old and I don¶t consider myself an expert on communication, but I do know that listening is the key to successful relationships. Often times, people just need someone to listen to them and they don¶t want²or don¶t need²to hear advice because they¶re sick of getting advice. Although I¶m not an expert, Alan Loy McGinnis can be considered one. McGinnis authored (2004) a book entitled The Friendship Factor which covers ways to get closer to people we care for, with one section covering five ways to cultivate
COMMUNICATING IN LOVE
intimacy. One of these five ways includes ³learn to listen.´ While I already knew the importance of listening before I read this book, I was reminded of just how much I should be listening to others. From a Biblical standpoint, I am called to listen to everyone who speaks to me. Firstly, the Bible calls all to listen. James 1:19 says to be ³quick to listen and slow to speak´ and Proverbs 18:13 reads ³He who answers before listening²that is his folly and his shame.´ Secondly, God listens to me when I pray to Him, so I should listen to others in the same manner. I always try to listen with Love and with confidentiality. Listening requires confidentiality and confidentiality leads to trust, and trust is the most important aspect of relationships. McGinnis (2004) says that ³one of the signs of deepening connections with people is that they trust you with secrets´ (p. 118). I cannot listen to people if they don¶t trust me because they won¶t disclose anything with me. I strive to gain the trust of every person I come into contact with by listening to every word as if he or she was the only person on earth and by keeping everything disclosed between the two of us. The second most important aspect of listening is to be empathetic while listening. I am a people-oriented listener so empathy is important to me. I can put myself into almost any situation because I¶ve been through a lot of negative situations, and I¶ve helped many of my friends and relatives through negative situations. Psychology fascinates me and for much of my life I wanted to be a psychologist. In fact, I still want to be a psychologist, but I know I couldn¶t handle it as a career because I would be too empathetic with people and I would make every situation too personal. When it comes to listening to others, I put myself into their situation as much as I can and I make their story mine. Through this empathy, I can listen in a way that is most helpful to them and I can try to give advice that is best for the situation.
COMMUNICATING IN LOVE The next important part of listening is not judging others. I have been told many times that I am easy to talk to because I don¶t judge people. I believe that no matter what anyone tells me, I have probably sinned worse. Matthew 7:1-5 is the verse about noticing the speck in someone else¶s eye while there is a plank in my own explains this perfectly. I strive to not judge
others as I listen to their story and put myself into their situation. Judging is not the way to listen because it creates a hostile relational environment and negative reactions. In my opinion, listening is the most important way to form and grow relationships and the most important aspects to listening are confidentiality, empathy, and not judging others because they communicate Love. I strive to communicate in a way that incorporates all of those things and creates a positive listening environment.
GROUP COMMUNICATION Many of my philosophies of group communication line up with my beliefs on interpersonal communication. I believe listening is key to group relationships just as it is key to interpersonal relationships. I believe I am a natural leader. I like to take charge of group situations and I think I¶m pretty good at it. I¶ve read a few books on leadership, I read leadership blogs, and I¶ve even attended a leadership seminar at Bethel Seminary. I love leading. Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson and motivational speaker, has written a few blogs about leaders listening. Mr. Hyatt is a role model to me and I believe he is completely correct in believing that listening is an art. According to Michael (2007), leaders should ask questions of their followers and should listen intently to what they have to say. Leading is about serving, not about having others serve me.
COMMUNICATING IN LOVE Jesus would agree with Michael Hyatt when it comes to serving. I, as a Christian, am called to serve others. 1 Peter 4:10 states that we should use our gifts to serve others for God¶s glory, and that is the mentality I try to take into every situation. As much as I love to lead (and even as much as I enjoy power at times), I also love to serve people. My philosophy on group communication is to first and foremost serve others, and hopefully by serving I¶ll be trusted enough to be elevated to a leadership position. Leadership is earned, not appointed.
CONCLUSION I try to communicate with myself, with God, and with others using the Love and grace of God. I try my hardest to respect everyone I come into contact with by listening to them and, through listening, understanding them. I try my hardest to not judge others and to keep their trust by keeping things confidential. In groups, I always try to serve first and take the leadership role only when others believe I have earned it even when I feel I should appoint myself to the role of leader.
COMMUNICATING IN LOVE References
Adler, Ronald B. & Rodman, George (2009).Understanding human communication (10thed.). New York, NY: Oxford.
Hyatt, Michael (2007). The lost art of listening.Retrieved from http://michaelhyatt.com/the-lostart-of-listening.html.
McGinnis, Alan Loy (2004). The friendship factor (2nded.). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.
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