We all know the feeling of being misunderstood or misheard. It is almost always frustrating when it happens. Without clear communication our world would fall apart. Our friendships, marriages and trades would all disintegrate into a mess of confusion.
Norm Wright wrote: “Communication is the process (verbal and nonverbal) of sharing information with another in such a way that the other person understands what you are saying.”
In mentoring as in any significant relationship, effective communication is the backbone. The first step in good communication is to seek to understand what another is saying. It is not good enough just to hear, but we must really listen. William James said that ‘The most immutable barrier in nature is between one man’s thought and another.’ It is good to ask for questions of clarification and to empathize similar genuine experiences.
In James 3:5-6 we read: ‘The tongue is small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Condiser what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also fire.’ Just a word improperly said can be destructive, a word fitly spoken can give new delights, make a plain person into a beautiful person, heal bruises, soothe agitated tempers, give hope to despondent souls, and point the way to God.
Paul also writes about appropriate use of the tongue in Ephesians 4:25-32, saying we should put off all falsehood (inc half truths), be kind and don’t speak unwholesome talk. There is an proverb which states ‘don’t speak unless you can improve the silence.’ Paul is saying that we are not to speak inless it will build someone up or meet a need.