8 Lessons in Communication

hands showing different ways of communicating like mail, phone, or internet

I’ve served on state WMU staffs for more than 36 years, and I’ve learned some lessons about communication through the years.

 

Lesson 1: Pray.

Communication with your Creator is the most important thing in which you will engage. Listen to Him, and follow His plan.

Prayer should always be a part of your communication. Pray for guidance and pray for the individual(s) with whom you are trying to communicate.
 

Lesson 2: Always speak the truth.

It saves a lot of time in the long run because you don’t have to try to remember what you said. People respect honesty. You can speak the truth in love without being blunt or unkind.


Lesson 3: Let love be your guide.

There are many sides to issues, and it is not unusual for us not to see all the sides and all the ramifications of an issue or problem. When you care about the person with whom you are trying to communicate and treat him or her with love and respect, it helps everyone work toward a compromise or a way to deal with the situation in a Christlike manner.

God leads each of us in unique ways and has different plans for each of us. Allow others to listen to Him and follow His plan. It may be God has a new plan, so be open to His leadership. Remember you are not always right and not always wrong. God models grace and forgiveness; you also need to model it in your relationships.
 

Lesson 4: Consider the individual with whom you are trying to communicate.

Think about the way(s) he or she communicates best. Is he or she better at speaking, writing, or communicating nonverbally? We are all different, and our past experiences and expectations must be factored into the communication. For example, if your pastor has had a bad experience with someone in WMU, you may need to rebuild his trust of WMU and take extra time to help him understand our purpose in helping spread the gospel.
 

Lesson 5: Listen carefully.

Listening requires you not plan your rebuttal or your way to “win” the point. Try to understand where the other person is coming from and why he or she has that opinion. People want to be heard. Don’t you?

Don’t put off difficult communication. When there is a problem, it does not help to wait—unless you need time to cool off (or you need a trusted friend to help you sort through the dilemma). When you do communicate, you may also need to explain why the topic or situation is difficult for you to discuss. Ignoring the problem seldom solves anything.
 

Lesson 6: Remember the importance of words.

John 1 talks about the importance of the Word. Does it not make sense then that you should place a great emphasis on words and how you communicate? It is vitally important to keep your words positive. You as a leader set the tone for growth, leadership, involvement, and how your church responds to missions. Listen to what you are saying. Are your words positive? When people hear only negative things about your missions groups, do you think they will want to join? If they hear no one is coming, do you believe that will encourage them to come? Keep your communication positive, and make sure you share the good things happening because of WMU. If it is difficult to find a positive story from your church, share what WMU is doing in other places. Always, always, always keep sharing how God is making a positive difference in the world through WMU.

Your words should provide clarity so include details when communicating. When was the last time you heard someone share something that was said in your presence and you thought, “That is not at all what I heard!” Keep communicating until you are all on the same page. You may agree to disagree. Again, you are not always right or always wrong.
 

Lesson 7: Be aware of your assumptions.

Assumptions are what you see through your lens, your outlook, your perspective. Recognize your view of the world is due to your experiences, griefs, burdens, joys, and many other factors that make you unique. Remember your life experiences are not the same as others and you must leave your preconceptions behind and try to find common ground for communication. Listening to all sides of an issue and trying to find a middle ground can show God’s love and how Christ followers live out 1 Corinthians 13. It is vital to listen, manage assumptions, and encourage true communication.
 

Lesson 8: Communicate your “why.” 

Today, more than ever, you cannot assume people understand why you are passionate about missions. Don’t just explain what you “do” in missions through WMU; explain why. Explain how you have seen God work through you, how you have seen God work in others’ lives, and why and how God communicates His love for us.


Sometimes communication takes more than one attempt. Jesus asked Peter 3 times, “Do you love me?” after Peter had denied Him. Jesus wants us to keep working at communication because millions still need to hear the gospel.


Donna Britt currently works with South Carolina WMU and previously served with WMU of Virginia.

 

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