Surprising definition, really. It means to have things in common. To communicate means to share or distribute items so that both parties may enjoy them.
What items are to be shared? Words. Good words.
Here's a principle to apply from the Apostle Paul: "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." I use this old fashioned translation of the bible (the King James Version of Galatians 6.6) to point out the word behind communicate. It's koinonia, the Greek word for fellowship or sharing.
A modern translation would use the word share: "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with the instructor." (same verse, New International Version)
This does not necessarily mean financial support. Yes, we should pay our teachers an adequate salary. But more than that, we can bestow upon those who instruct us - and upon anyone for that matter - a gift of words.
Some call this speaking a blessing. I think of it as distributing good words. Isn't this what communication should be about? Every day we have opportunities to give encouraging, nourishing words to others. Every day we have opportunities to practice our communication skills.
But distributing good words on a consistent basis is difficult. I've found that I need to monitor two areas of my speech if I'm going to become a better communicator.
First, I need to watch for the rise of hurtful words that tear people down. I need to stop the flow of negative words before they dribble out - or gush out as the case may be - and do damage to others.
Here's another great principle to apply. The Apostle Peter says that love "covers over" a multitude of sins (see 1 Peter 4.8). In other words, love "puts a lid on it" and doesn't broadcast a failing. When tempted to "share a concern" about another's faults, love zips the lip.
Second, I need to be sensitive to the situation of the person I want to communicate with. That is, I need to watch for the green light and say a good word at a good time. Understanding another's needs, pressures, and dreams helps us with what to say and when to say it.
Of course, this entails listening. To distribute good words to the right destination at the right time requires receiving the correct information and signals from the other person. So becoming a better communicator not only involves sharing good words, but listening so that those good words can be received at the best time.
Questions to Ponder
- Do you see your communication as the distribution of good words?
- What might be preventing you from communicating more effectively?
- Develop a list of people with whom you want to share good words.