The Process Compass
Process All communication involves a process between me and those I am communicating with. But communication also involves a process within my own heart as I recieve input, process it, and then respond or react. My own communication process will always be driven by my intentions. Thus, in order to communicate effectively, it essential for me to manage my own intentions in the the process. The process compass outlines four distinct intentions you and I have to manage when we communicate with others. The best way to manage myself is to bring God into the my process.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
Control vs. Communication
Communication The most important intention is the intention to actually communicate with others versus the intention to control others with our words. Biblically, communication is not just the sharing of information to gain mutual understanding, but is the act of "speaking the truth in love." (Eph 4:15) This kind of communication leads to fellowship. For this kind of communication to take place, we mush embrace another intention that undergirds our entire spiritual life.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Ephesians 4:25)
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
Control Often our attempts at communication are really just attempts to control. When we use language and words to control others, we bypass true communication and are attempting to force others to be or do what we want. This was never God's intent for the gift of communication. Control leads to conflict and eventually dissolution of relationship. However, the task of turning from control in our daily conversations is an insurmountable challenge without God's help.
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:10-12)
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing. (Rom 7:18-19)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:29-30)
Knowledge vs. Influence
Knowledge Every human has a deep and desparate desire "to know" and "to be known." Our sense of meaning and significance as well as our sense of belonging depend on it. God gave us the gift of communcation so this desire could be satisfied, not only with each other, but with Him. In healthy relationships, the individuals are always growing in their mutual knowledge and understanding of each other. Mutual knowledge is a hallmark of true relational intimacy. Effective biblical leadership also rises and falls on the level of mutual knowledge that exists between leaders and followers. Communicating for knowledge requires spiritual maturity and wisdom.
Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel. (Proverbs 20:15)
Influence Every human has a deep and desparate desire "to influence" and "to be influenced." Our sense of meaning and significance as well as our sense of belonging depend on it. God gave us the gift of communcation so this desire could be satisfied as well, but again, not only with each other, but with God! In healthy relationships, the parties are always growing in their mutual influence of each other. Mutual influence is also a hallmark of genuine relational intimacy. Effective biblical leadership also rises and falls on the level of mutual influence that exists between leaders and followers. Communicating for influence also requires spiritual maturity and wisdom.
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. (Proverbs 25:15)
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Proverbs 27:5
Knowledge vs. Influence We can communicate for knowledge and we can communicate for influence, but we cannot communicate for knowledge and influence at the same time. To communicate for true knowledge, I must temporarily put my agenda for influence aside. To communcate for influence, I must temporarily put my desire to gain more knowledge aside. To know when and how to shift see "The Conversation Gear Shift."
The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. (Proverbs 10:32)