From the moment Adam and Eve recognised their sin, they sought to cover themselves and hide. They no longer wanted to be open and honest with God. Each of us, in our own way, does the same. We develop outer facades that hide inner needs. The following levels of communication are stages of personal development that will bring you out of hiding to communicate honestly with God … and then, to face truth and to be vulnerable with others.
- Common (superficial) level of Communication: General remarks or inquiries that are between strangers represent the most superficial level of communication. While this kind of communication is often only a polite exchange to acknowledge someone, it can also open the door to deeper levels of communicating. Remarks like: “Nice to meet you.” Or “Where are the elevators?” Biblical Example will be John 4:7–9.
- Casual level of Communication: Statements and information are shared, but no real personal interaction occurs. This level of communication centers on other people, events or places. Like: “Did you know XYZ when you grew up?” or “Have you ever been to the ocean?” Biblical Example will be John 4:10–11.
- Comfortable level of Communication: Thoughts and ideas are communicated in this first step toward risk taking. Objections, judgments, and decisions are easily expressed. True interaction is still guarded while one’s emotional antenna looks for any signs of disapproval or rejection. Like: “It would be hard to live in a climate that has extremely cold winters.” Biblical Example will be John 4:12–14.
- Caring level of Communication: Feelings and emotions are shared by moving beyond “head talk” into revealing “who I am.” Ideas are still communicated, but now the facts are accompanied by how I really feel about these ideas. I am expressing a sincere desire that you know and understand me. I am willing to risk sharing my perspective so that I can then understand yours. And I will do so with courtesy. Like: “I think you are very smart … and it makes me proud to be your friend.” Biblical Example will be John 4:16–26.
- Committed level of Communication: Freedom from all fear of judgment or rejection may allow for complete emotional connection with another person. Reserved for communion with God, with a marriage partner or with the closest of friends, this highest level of communication requires complete openness and deep honesty. In these encounters deeply held beliefs and feelings are shared openly. Two hearts are joined, two spirits are united and feelings are reciprocated. There is mutual understanding and empathy. This level of communication succeeds only with positive regard for one another. Like: “Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but it hurt me when you shared the details of my illness with your friend Karen.” Biblical Example will be John 11:32–35.
Dishonesty has a way of creeping into all our relationships, but the ultimate price of any deception results in the disintegration of honest communication. Anyone who enters into a relationship thinking that it is good to keep the peace by disguising true feelings has developed patterns that destroy the bridge to deep and fulfilling communication.
Proverbs 26:24 “A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbours deceit.”