Jesus commanded us to be perfect. (See Matthew 5:48.) He was referring to the way we greet people: “If ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matthew 5:47). A perfect greeting is giving the same warm enthusiastic smile to a stranger that we would give to our best friend. This must happen the moment we make eye contact.
People are controlled by the ones who praise them. Husbands and fathers who do not understand this will lose their wives and children. People long for praise and approval. If they do not discern between praise and flattery, however, they will be in danger from unscrupulous predators.
The professor at a graduate school demonstrated “instructive listening” while a student explained his proposal for a project. By using nods and smiles— or the lack of them—during each point, the student knew which ones were good or bad.
In friendships, questions are to communication as food is to living. In counseling, questions are like arrows in the quiver of a wise archer. If one question does not “hit the mark,” he will select another one. Wise and insightful questions let people know that we understand them. Over the years we have developed two questions that are 100% effective in transforming juvenile delinquents in three minutes; they illustrate the power of precise questions.
Every conversation should be a three-way connection: the other person and I, and the Spirit of God and I. Often God will bring to our mind key questions that we never would have thought to ask. Peter demonstrated this by asking Ananias how much he sold his land for. There are several ways that we can become familiar with the voice of God.
Every culture has its own set of social rules. For example, when a Chinese businessman presents his card to you, it is important to bow and receive it with both hands at the lower corners. If we are to be effective ambassadors, we certainly must not violate these cultural rules, or the people will not be very responsive to the message we have to share with them.
When we want to share vital truths with other people, it is very important to first discern if they are ready to hear them. If we try to instruct a person who scorns God and His ways, he will not only reject our wisdom but distort it and then attack us. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6).
Paul’s ultimate life goal was to bring every person to full maturity in Christ. (See Colossians 1:23, 29.) One of the most successful motivators in business was Frank Bettger. He stated, “There is just one way to get people to act: find out what they want and help them see the best way to get it.” This is the essence of the verse: “Let your speech be always with grace [desire and power to do God’s will], seasoned with salt [creating curiosity], that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).
Words have power. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21.) If we are to be persuasive we must learn the precise meanings of words and carefully choose every word we use.
Every person should be a writer—it makes us alert to what is going on around us. However, if we want to persuade people, we must be passionate about what we write. Our passion must come from the vision that God has given us for our life calling. We must be willing to die for our vision, because if we have nothing to die for we have nothing worth living for.
A person who has learned to think precisely and write passionately will be able to speak powerfully. Powerful speaking is based on an understanding of human nature, a grasp of Biblical truth, and moving illustrations from personal experience and history. Most people are afraid of speaking in public and need more training in public speaking.
Six words will usually get the attention of any audience: “Let me tell you a story.” People love stories, and stories shape thinking and emotions. The Bible is a continuous biography of people’s lives, and Jesus taught important truths with stories.