There are three possible frameworks for communication. Only one of the three enables us to communicate in a manner that allows the message to be received by the receiver.
Framework one is communication that is source-oriented. This is the attitude of the sender when he focuses his concern on himself, on how he will look or come across, how he sounds or the impression he is giving of himself. Focusing all the energy on oneself makes it very difficult to be able to listen to someone else. This is a very ineffective and sinful way to attempt to communicate.
Framework two is message-oriented communication. This is the attitude of the sender who focuses on the message. Communication generated by a sender with this attitude tends to be a monologue. The sender is concerned about the message, how it is conveyed, whether it is sufficiently clear, etc. All the attention is then placed on the content rather than on the listener. Again, this is a very ineffective form of communication. Frameworks one and two generate a lot of noise that hinders communication.
Framework three is other-oriented communication. This is the most appropriate attitude to have while communicating. The focus is primarily God-centered, seeking to communicate in a way that pleases God, and consequently, it is also other centered. This communication tends to help the other person to be able to listen in a manner that enhances understanding. In this approach to communicating the speaker is also committed to listening to the responder. Only through dialogue can we truly understand the other and communicate with him/her positively and effectively. If necessary, the message or the way it is delivered will be adjusted to fit and benefit the receiver.
Communication in this framework is characterized by the following earmarks. First, good communication promotes dialogue. Dialogue is the very fabric of life. It is the essence of interacting with another individual. In dialogue, husbands and wives can be open with one another hence, encoding the message and decoding it is possible. On various occasions Jesus tells his opponents that their problem is their failure to enter into dialogue with him. What frequently happens is that they are unwilling to listen even though he has communicated effectively. They simply take a position of opposing him (creating noise). This reminds us that good communication is dependent upon listener and speaker both being other-oriented.
In this framework, communication decreases tension. As Proverbs 15:1 states it is a harsh word that stirs up anger, a gentle answer that turns away wrath. When we communicate with an other-orientation we practice love and respect for God (we refuse to behave in a manner that offends God) and for each other (we not only refuse to not offend each other, but we craft our speech in a positive and caring manner).
Other-oriented communication refuses to attack the person, even when frustrated. Rather, this kind of communication speaks in a manner that actually addresses issues with a view to building up the other at the very point of the frustration. Review Ephesians 4:29 and this is precisely what you will find.
The diagram below illustrates the noise of frameworks one and two that interdict good communication.
Whether you are a marriage counselor or a partner in a marriage, this information can provide some
very simple and yet profound insights into the communication process. I had occasion to use this
diagram with a couple in counseling this week as we looked at the principles in Ephesians 4:25-32.