The following is an excerpt from An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication, by Quentin Schultze and Diane Badzinski.
Being Mild-Mannered, Not Inflammatory
We speak and write with restraint, not with unbridled emotions. Recognizing that how we communicate is just as important as the actual words we use, we calm our souls even in the midst of emotionally charged conflicts. We avoid escalating conflicts. We’re temperate and measured, even when our own emotions start boiling. We practice self-control. Even when we’ve been wronged, we practice healthy rather than combative resistance. “Hate is for emergencies, like a fast battery charge; it is a quick fix like heroin,” writes Christian author and ethicist Lewis Smedes. “As a long-term energizer, it is unreliable. And in the end it kills.”
Being Gentle, Not Harsh
Our verbal and nonverbal communication is soft and gentle, not angry and brash. We think of our speech as a light breeze rather than a mighty hurricane. A gentle response to someone turns away wrath, but a harsh reply stirs up anger, says the writer of Proverbs. Blessed are the meek—the gentle. Harsh words rub salt into wounds. We speak with grace to those who hear us.
Being Inviting, Not Threatening
We convey a sense of being open to and interested in others. We avoid being the kinds of people who frighten or intimidate others. We’re personally hospitable in our hearts and minds. We win people over by first empathizing with them and then communicating with them, not at them.
Being Cooperative, Not Confrontational
Peaceful communicators seek common ground for conversation, not arguments to win. We’re interested in working with others rather than demanding that they agree with us. We welcome collaboration. We’re open to win-win compromises. Peaceful communication avoids warlike rhetoric about battles and enemies. This isn’t easy because popular culture fosters a warlike atmosphere with winners and losers. “When was the last time you went to see a movie about peace?” asks theologian Stanley Hauerwas. “War has seized our imagination.”
Being Patient, Not Hasty
Communicating for shalom, we accept the long view of nurturing our relationships rather than the short view of quickly resolving all of our conflicts and eliminating all misunderstanding. A fool is hotheaded and reckless, says Proverbs. We admit that communication is complex and needs sensitive, thoughtful consideration. Nuances are important. Getting to know each other takes time. We’re patiently on guard against quickly stereotyping others. We accept others’ need for time too. We’re generous with our time when our neighbor says, “I need time to think about it” or “I can’t discuss it right now.” As long as two persons keep talking, they are not totally hostile.
©2015 by Quentin Schultze and Diane Badzinski. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
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