DECEMBER, families tend to get together to celebrate or to go on holiday together and it can be a wonderful time, until someone develops an attitude and starts using their mouth like a machine gun with the intention of causing injury. We need to teach people to communicate in a way that will be helpful rather than hurtful.

Here are some unproductive and harmful communication tactics that you’ll need to guard your heart from, and guard yourself from being guilty of. Like when you have entertained rebellion, offence, or an attitude because you perceived something incorrectly or you were over-sensitive about something someone said. We all have the ability to bring great hurt through communication.

That kiddies’ rhythmic song “Sticks & Stones” is the biggest lie; words do harm you. Some people are trapped in that harm for years to the point that it affects their decisions and ultimately their life. Your life is simply the sum total of your thinking, words and decisions.

Anything motivated outside of the fruit of the Spirit and the love of God (1 Cor. 13) in relationships is going to have a negative impact. Depending on how far you took it it is going to burn bridges, and let me tell you, some bridges are not worth burning.

When you are young and have a lot of energy you think that you know all the answers; you are far more prone to making these mistakes. I’ve seen some people in their sixties speak to their spouse in a way that after having been around for so many years you would think that they would have picked up more wisdom than that.

So whether you are young or old, male or female, words are a vital part of our lives and our destinies. We need to use them wisely for the best possible outcome in our lives and in the lives of others.

Here are some of the negative examples of communication, which we ultimately use to manipulate, control or just outright hurt someone with:

1) Hurtful nonverbal communication.

This includes intense, angry facial expressions; exaggerated or violent hand gestures; and the giving of the “cold shoulder”.  Silence is also an answer even if words were not used.

Sometimes tension arises between people because nonverbal communication is easy to misinterpret. For example, when someone looks serious, the other person will inevitably assume that he is upset with them. However, rather than leaping to a conclusion by misinterpreting their furrowed brow and silence, we should clarify it by asking a simple question like “Is there something bothering you?”

2) Lying in all its various form

Outright lies (Prov 12:22): “I don’t know how that pornography site got on my web browser.”

Promises not intended to be kept (Prov 12:19; 20:17): “I’ll pay you on Monday.”

Exaggeration: “You always …” “You never …”

Minimisation: “I was just joking, when I called you a ‘fat whale’.” “I’m not angry; I’m just frustrated.”

Distortion: Intentionally twisting the other person’s words or intentionally withholding information that puts you in a bad light.

3) Evasion

The person intentionally changes the subject or focuses attention on some insignificant aspect of the discussion in order to avoid a painful subject or to avoid admitting that he was wrong: e.g. The wife asks: “ Can we talk about the big argument we had this morning before you left for work?” Husband: “Big? How can you call that a big argument?”

4) Insults

(1 Peter 3:8-9; Matt 5:21-22) Harsh words meant to cut until they bleed. Sometimes these insults are disguised as “jokes” that are clearly intended to slice, not to amuse.

5) Teasing and sarcasm

(Prov 26:18-19). This includes everything from uncomplimentary nicknames, to open mocking. While relationships may include good-natured teasing from time to time, sometimes a person maliciously refuses to stop, though it is clear that he is hurting someone’s feelings with his words.

6) Cancellation

“That was a nice supper … for once.” Some people need to be taught to stop their sentences two-thirds of the way through by saying just the nice part, rather than adding an unkind insult or accusation.

7) Goading

(Prov 26:21; Phil 2:14; Prov 26:4). This is intentionally prodding the other person into an argument. For some people, arguing is a GAME; and sadly, it might be their only form of shared entertainment. But arguing is not a game- it’s a sin that Jesus died for.

8) Gossip

(Prov 17:9; 16:28; 26:22). Often the most hurtful occurrences of gossip are when one person speaks critically about the other person with the intention of tempting the hearer to be bitter and critical. In other words they want the gossip to get back to them. Some things said in this way can burn a bridge very badly. Unless genuine repentance and humility of heart is shown on behalf of the offending person who spreads the gossip, you may never have an opportunity for forgiveness and may never be reconciled.

9) Corrupt words

(Eph 4:29; 5:3-4) This is making sexually impure jokes, using swear words or using very strong language. These should be replaced by spiritually edifying or light-hearted conversation.

10) Interrupting or answering for the other person

(Prov 18:2, 13) Interrupting reveals a heart of impatience and disrespect. Regularly answering for one’s spouse when he or she was the one spoken to, is also a form of disrespect.

11) Pontificating

Some speakers project the attitude that once they have spoken on a subject, nothing more can be added. This tends to shut down communication, rather than encourage it, or the situation will erupt into full-scale rage.

12) Relentless faultfinding

God has designed people to respond better to praise than to criticism (Prov 31:29). Constant criticism is not a sign of love, but of a proud, unkind and ungrateful heart.

13) Steamrolling

(Prov 16:21; 25:15) This can occur when one spouse tries to dominate the other, either by a torrent of words or by employing arguments intended not just to convince but also to crush and humiliate the other person.

14) Mind-reading

“I know what you were thinking when you said that!” This always discourages open discussion; why say anything if the other person is going to misjudge or misinterpret every word?

15) Thoughtless words

(Prov 29:20; 15:28; Matt 12:36) This person lets their mouth drive off before they shift their mind into gear. This often leads them to having to ask for forgiveness tomorrow for what they said today that was hurtful or inconsiderate.

16) Testing

A wife will sometimes intentionally offer her husband an OPTION that she doesn’t want him to take, in order to test his love for her. “Why don’t you go PLAY golf with your friends today?” Which really means, ”Are you going to leave me home alone by myself again all day, like you did the last two Saturdays?” Go figure, how was he supposed to know that?

17) Defensiveness or self-justification

Defensiveness makes resolving conflict much harder, like an army trying to advance through barbedwire and minefields. “I know I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that, but I had a hard day at work.” Self-justification needs to be replaced with a transparent admission of fault and a request for forgiveness: “I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that. Please forgive me.”

18) Accusations

“You didn’t pay the phone bill again? You don’t care about anything I ask you to do.” The untrue accusation “You don’t care…” is a grenade tossed into the middle of the conversation. It attacks the person, not the problem. Gentle questions replace harsh accusations: “You must have had a chaotic day. What happened that kept you from paying the phone bill?”

Gentle questions believe the best, not the worst (Prov 31:11).

Gentle questions allow the other person to make a gentle explanation; accusations do not easily allow this.

Gentle questions encourage the other person to ask forgiveness quickly, rather than to react defensively, if they have done anything wrong.

19) Abbreviated words (WTF – OMG etc…)

It’s the whole concept of “white lies”; if it’s abbreviated it’s not so bad. In communication the attitude behind the words reveals the intent of the heart in saying those words.

20) Praying with a hidden motive

Praying with someone, but mentioning what they need to hear in the prayer, or using scripture to do the JOB.

After reading this blog, I hope you would have come to the conclusion that you are capable or guilty of doing any of the above; and instead of producing peace, realized that through incorrect communication we all have the ability to create real damage with our words. Damage that at the end of the day; we will need to ask ourselves “Was that really worth it?” “Did that accomplish anything positive?” “Did that reflect who I really am?” “Should I have done something differently or said something differently?”

The Bible says, “all things are lawful, but not all things are expedient” (1 Cor. 10:33). Simply put, some things are not worth it. Hurtful communication is one of those things.

Finally, we need to realise that time has a way of revealing the true motives of our hurtful communication and then we sit with egg on our faces. Instead of deflecting attention, we have brought attention to ourselves and it has reflected negatively on our character, probably causing a lot of distrust.

Trust is a valuable commodity and should not be given up cheaply. We end up making cheap, emotionally driven decisions when we are filled with negative emotions, which are a result of wrong thinking or perceptions in most cases. It is always a good idea to give yourself time to calm down and prayerfully consider your communication. Run the results of what you want to say through to the end result. If that result is not worth it, then don’t say what you wanted to, because you will live to regret it.


2 Responses to "STICKS & STONES"

  1. Neville Ottaway Posted on May 17, 2016 at 1:24 am

    Much appreciated for this content and for submitting!

    • Posted on May 30, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Our pleasure! Thanks so reading

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