We have all heard countless times how important good communication is. It is important in marriages, in parenting, in work relationships, and in broader community settings. Whenever we have a relationship in which we can be both the needer and the giver, communication becomes a very big issue.
The main theme in this is of course, the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Explain to others the things that you would like if they would explain to you. Do not hold other accountable to know what to do with you when you would not know what to do with them.
The important thing to notice about the golden rule in this instance is where the responsibility lies. Do unto others (Matt. 7:12). Essentially, this can mean, “In whatever you are doing, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And note, you are always doing something. Even if you are the one who was just wronged, this applies to you. The verse does not say, “Surround yourself with others who will treat you as you would like to be treated.” There is more than enough room in the word “doing” to encompass all the behaviors of mankind towards one another, on both sides.
Let me give a few examples of some ways that this applies that we might really rather leave out of it:
“Get your feelings hurt by others in the way that you would want their feelings hurt by you.”
“Give the cold shoulder to people in the same way that you would want them giving the cold shoulder to you.”
“Be as demanding of a friend as you would want others to be unto you.”
“Expect as much tact in difficult situations of others as you would want them expecting of you.”
“Read into the motives of others in the same way that you would want them reading into yours.”
“Jump to conclusions about others in the same way that you would want them jumping to conclusions about you.”
I think that the really pivotally important point here is that even when you are the one who feels needy – when it is you who is hurting, when you are the one needing encouragement and everyone else seems to be doing fine – even then, this is your responsibility. Do unto others. Do not use the times when you are clearly the underdog to gather up offenses and file them in the cabinets of your heart. Do not use your situation to shine an unloving spotlight on everyone else. Show them the love that you would want shown to you. Do not replay gaffes in your head – do not add more sneer, more snark, more willful ignorance into their comments. Do unto others.