Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Four Pointers To Becoming A Better Communicator

Four Pointers To Becoming a Better Communicator

Have you discovered how challenging it is to truly communicate accurately, clearly, and effectively?  Good communication skills are perhaps the most difficult area for most of us to conquer, and for sure good communication skills are essential for success.
For those of us who profess a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we should be motivated to become better communicators because we represent the Lord.  But in addition, learning to communicate better will eliminate a lot of problems you may now be encountering.  I can promise you that your relationships will improve as your communication skills improve, and it certainly can do your career no harm to become intentional about being a better communicator.
Here are four easy pointers to help you become a better communicator.  If you will become intentional about these concepts, pray about them, and daily practice them, you will reap many benefits in your life:
1.  Work on your verbal skills—your choice of words.
It’s not so much what you say, but what words you choose to say.  Think: “How would I feel if someone said that to me?”  All too often people are reacting to our choice of words rather than the message.
Proverbs 18:21: The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 12:18: Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 25:15: Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
Proverbs 25:11: A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
2.  Eliminate verbal crutches (for example, “like,” “you know”).
Any word or phrase you use repeatedly can become a verbal crutch.  It diminishes your professionalism and makes you sound uncertain and nervous.
3.  Make sure the sound of your voice carries the right message.
Don’t speak too loudly, too softly, too harshly, too lifeless, or too fast.  The sound of your voice communicates even louder than the words you speak.  Put a smile on your face and your words will have a much friendlier, warmer sound.
4.  Work on improving your non-verbal communication.
What people see has a stronger impact on their opinion or perception than what they hear.
  • Smile more.  It costs you nothing and buys you so much!
  • Have a firm hand shake.  A wimpy hand shake is worse than no hand shake.
  • Give good eye contact.  That communicates sincerity, honesty, and caring.
  • Dress appropriately.  Believe it or not, people will form opinions of you based on how you look, and if it is inappropriate, they will tend to discount what you say and give it less credence.
Proverbs 15:30: A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

Remember:  “Perception equals reality,” and people will jump to conclusions about you based on how you communicate. It will pay big dividends if you will become intentional about improving your communication skills.

2 Corinthians 8:21:  For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Growing Old Is Not For Sissies

They say that growing old is not for sissies. Well, that may be true, but for sure growing old is better than not growing old!

As the years keep ticking away for me, I continually remind myself that age is just a number. I can choose to let that number define me, or I can choose to be thankful that the number continues to increase and God continues to make me a part of what he is doing.

In Scripture old age was admired and respected, but that’s not true in our Western culture. "Old age" seems to be redefined downward with each passing year, and too often people are dismissed because they no longer are considered relevant after they pass some magical number which takes you from young and vibrant to old and out-of-it.

In too many environments—the workplace, our churches and even our families—older people are often viewed as no longer valuable. It’s very common to hear people in their 50’s and certainly 60’s talk about how difficult it is to find a job because they are "too old." Their experience and expertise gained through years of working are passed over for the younger person. Even some churches, in seeking to create an environment that appeals to the youth, prevent anyone past the age of 40 from having an active or at least a visible part of the church program.

We lose so much when we isolate and divide ourselves by age. I encourage you to read this blog which illustrates this point. And if you’re on the young side, seek the sage and wisdom of those older than you. If you’re in your later years, be open to the ideas and energy of the younger generation. We have so much to gain from each other.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Next Destination: Kenya

I’ve left Nigeria and found my way to Nairobi, Kenya, where I will be conducting a three-day conference for women this week. 

My friend, Claudia Long, has begun a wonderful camping ministry near Jos, Nigeria.  For thirty years she has tirelessly and faithfully worked in Nigeria, under less than ideal circumstances, to bring a camping ministry to the country.  She works very hard, but her labor is not in vain, as many young people attend her camps each year.
The staff of the camp intently listening and asking meaningful—and sometimes difficult—questions about how to deal with certain situations.
I had the privilege of talking with the camp counselors, as they were in a week of preparation, and presenting some ideas on how to counsel these young people.  They come to the camp with many issues and problems, and for many it is the first time they are able to talk about what they are facing at home and elsewhere.  It was a joy to meet them and encourage them in their work for the Lord.

Here is Claudia in front of the dining hall
Please pray that the weeks of camp, which begin next week, will bear fruit for eternity.