As we begin to gather again and assemble in larger groups, “Say Something Nice Sunday” comes in time to remind us of some simple rules of engagement. We will be so happy to see each other again. The fifth-tenth annual event takes place on June 6th.
Stop talking. Give others a chance. This is difficult because there is so much we want to share. We have been separated for so long. Smile thus breaking the ice. Smiling is a universal language. Speak to people. You may need to introduce yourself. In many cases we will still be wearing our masks. Don’t assume the other person knows who you are. I learned this valuable lesson from the president of the board of the agency I headed. He always introduced himself. He did not assume that others would recognize him or remember his name.
Listen attentively. Because we are not talking does not mean that we are listening. Active listening demands personal discipline. Don’t spend your time thinking about what you will say next. Larry King, the television personality, was such a good interviewer because he listened to what his guest said and then responded to what had been said. Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 11:15 (NIV)
Don’t interrupt. Interrupting is an act of aggression. It says that what I have to say is more important than what you have to say.
Delay judgment. Jumping to conclusions always poses the danger of arriving at the wrong conclusion. Crow never taste good.
Sincerely compliment others. Find something nice to say. Stay away from talking about physical attributes.
Consider the opinions of others. They might have something new or unique to contribute.
Be sensitive to the feelings of others. They may not take what you say the way that you intended. Remember Murphy’s Law. If it is possible for someone to misunderstand, she or he will.
Be approachable. Be aware of your body language. Uncross everything. Face the other person. Maintain eye contact.
Speak the truth, but speak the truth with love. It is not necessary to share everything you know. Don’t gossip. Dr. Arthur Caliandro, the late pastor of Marble Collegiate Church, said, “Be kinder than you think it necessary to be. The other person needs it more than you know.”
Stop talking. We return to the first key because it is so important. I learned a new acronym that applies to this key point from Rev. Susan Sparks – WAIT. Why am I talking? We never learn anything while we are talking.
There is so much in Scripture that helps us in our communication with others. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” St. Paul added, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NIV) In other words don’t stir up controversy.
We as Christians have a great message to share. Effective communication depends on our attitude toward others. If we show respect for others even though we may have great differences our efforts will most often be rewarded with good results. We want others to be happy to see us and not to moan when they see us coming. Our reputation so often precedes us. We want that reputation to be one that generates positive expectations.
Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, SC. He is the author of, Our Father: Discovering Family. He blogs at www.mitchcarnell.com.