Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22
Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.
For his recent assembly message, Mr. Richard Ames talked about the topic of communication.
He informed the students that, in 1978, he started pursuing a master’s degree in communication. He took a class called “Interpersonal Communication,” where he was assigned to improve his interpersonal relationship with one other person. Mr. Ames decided to improve his communication with his wife, to whom he had been married for fourteen years at the time.
Keys to Improve Interpersonal Communication
Mr. Ames told us to practice biblical principles for loving communication. Ephesians 4:15 admonishes us to speak the truth in love, but too many speak the truth in hate. We should want to edify—build up—the person we are talking to. The entirety of James 3 contrasts biblical communication with what is normal for man. Mr. Ames advised us to pray that God will give us the things that we need to say in love, and he also recommended that we do a word study of Scripture’s use of the words mouth, tongue, lips, and words.
Mr. Ames also said that we should analyze our transactions. Transactional analysis is a psychoanalysis theory and a method of therapy developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne. Some of these transactions are labeled as parent, adult, and child. The parent role is considered an instructional role of communication, the adult role is considered informational, and the child role is considered emotional.
Eric Berne also wrote about cross-transactional communication. An example of this occurs if you are asked, “What time is it?,” and, instead of giving the time, you respond with, “What are you asking me for?” In this scenario, the question is informational, but the response is emotional. Communicating on an informational level helps to eliminate judgmentalism.
Mr. Ames also addressed the need to practice positive reinforcement. Everyone likes to produce behaviors that reinforce positive rewards and to stay away from behaviors that bring negative consequences. If someone is trying to do something nice and the other party complains, then whoever did the action was not rewarded and would not likely do that action again. This key gets to the matter of encouragement.
“Share your life,” Mr. Ames said. We need to share some of our activities and thoughts with others to deepen our relationships with them. Sometimes we are so busy with life that this step gets ignored, but following it enhances the interpersonal relationship between us and other people. Mr. Ames also mentioned that there is an approach called accurate empathy, with which you are able to discern another person’s view of the world as if it were your own.
Another aspect of this is called non-possessive warmth. This is a demonstration of unconditional positive regard, involving caring about another person without imposing conditions on them. Mr. Ames tied this in with Philippians 2:3.Mr. Ames admonished us to use these keys to improve our interpersonal communication, reminding us to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29–31).