Summary: More biblical steps to taking control of the communication in your life.
(Certainly not an exhaustive outline of what the Bible says about speech - but an offering of several key hot spots that require out attention.)
1. SPEAK SOFTLY AND DON’T CARRY A BIG EGO.
"A gentle answer will calm a person’s anger, but an unkind answer will cause more anger." Proverbs 15:1 (NCV)
We tend to "talk back" to those who speak to us in anger. Part defense mechanism, part pride, the Bible teaches this usually doesn’t work.
We can become more effective at positive conversation if we will maturely swallow our pride and respond to a heated barb with a kind and calm answer.
We may need to empathize with the angry person. Why are they behaving so drastically? They may have a hurt that we can help heal.
Being kind and calm does not mean that we cannot be firm and truthful. But angry exchanges seldom accomplish the peace of God.
2. SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD.
[This is actually habit 5 of Stephen Covey’s "7 Habits of Higly Effective People", but it is certainly Bible-based.]
"Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out." Colossians 4:6 (Msg)
Paul was addressing the speech of a Christ follower to the unchurched here in Colossians 4. But the principle has an even broader application.
Instead of bringing out the best in others our conversation aim is often to draw attention to ourselves or our point of view.
In Covey’s book, he mentions the 5 levels of listening: 1) Ignoring; 2) Pretending (to listen); 3) Selective Listening; 4) Attentive Listening; and 5) Empathetic Listening. (Pages 240-241, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People")
Our goal should be to aim at listening on the highest level, trying our best to identify with others as they seek to communicate their feelings and opinions to us.
3. SWEAR OFF PROFANITY.
"Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
Many of us bemoan the wide acceptance of vulgar speech in our culture. Profanity that would have brought blushing a generation ago is now common place. Those who follow Christ cannot afford to be caught up in the language of the gutter.
The result of such ugly conversation is that it destroys rather than encourages. There is nothing uplifting and profitable about profanity.
Our goal should be to speak in ways that influence others to aspire to purity and positive and uplifting lifestyles.
4. APPLY THE BRAKES TO YOUR BABBLE.
"I promise you that on the Day of Judgment, everyone will have to account for every careless word they have spoken." Jesus - Matthew 12:36 (CEV)
"My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry." James 1:19 (CEV)
Being careful about what we say was important to the Lord Jesus.
We must therefore give consideration to our words before we speak; as James advises.
Once again, we cannot follow the example of the godless culture around us. Words are spewed forth in abundance all around us with little thought to their impact. In the volume of information we must practice walking with Jesus whose words were carefully chosen and masterfully spoken.