The intimate act of communication …
Communication is the means of one human being connecting with another, making it one of the most intimate acts between people.
So just how intimate are we?
According to John Powell (author, “Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?”) there are five levels of communication. Pastor Chuck Swindoll, summarizes them this way:
Level One: Clichés. This is the most superficial level. It’s a hi-how-are-you type of conversation that is entirely social in nature.
Level Two: Facts and Reports. This level exchanges only external information. It is safe conversation that ranges from the weather to who won the game to the nightly news.
Level Three: Opinions and Judgments. This is the first level to scratch below the surface and reveal something of ourselves. On this level, words like “ought” and “should” and “like” and “dislike” come out of hiding to reveal our convictions.
Level Four: Feelings. This is the level that reveals our emotions, a level most people seldom penetrate. “I feel sad” or “I’m afraid” or “I am angry” are all examples of level four communication.
Level Five: Maximum Truth. This deepest level speaks truth in its most open and candid form. Maximum truth includes affirmations, confrontation, confession, forgiveness, the sharing of dreams and disillusions, and the telling and keeping of secrets.
So how should we communicate with one another? According to the Apostle Paul, mature Christians should communicate like this:
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church,” Ephesians 4:14-15.
Obviously, not every conversation is a “level five” engagement, but are you getting there with people? Are you going beyond the cliches and reports to speaking the truth in love with others?