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Think Before You Speak

Think Before You Speak “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23).

Lesson Goal: To help students understand that what they say and how they say it can prevent or cause conflict.

Lesson Objectives: By God’s grace students will learn: 1. Why communication is important. 2. The difference between verbal and non-verbal communication. 3. What to communicate. 4. How to communicate effectively. Key Principle: Think before you speak.

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Begin With Prayer Begin the lesson with prayer that your students will learn to prevent conflict by communicating to others in a respectful way.

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As you discuss the principles in this lesson, remember to encourage and praise appropriate responses to questions. Review and Setting the Stage • Can you remember what the stay plan is? (Stop, Think, Act, Yea! ) • Have any of you used the stay plan to alter your choices? How? • What kind of choice is it to use the stay plan? (A wise-way choice. ) Today we are going to begin to study another wise-way choice: how to prevent conflict by communicating in a respectful way. What we say and how we say it will have a great effect on how people listen and respond to us.

If we choose to communicate respectfully, it is likely that we will be able to resolve or even prevent conflict and stay on top of the slip zone. We are going to learn interesting and helpful information that can help us communicate more respectfully. You will discover how important it is to think before you speak. Listen to a story about a boy who communicated his thoughts and feelings to his family. Be prepared to tell me if you think his communication helped to improve the situation. BUNTHEOUN”S COMPLAINT Buntheoun’s family has two cows, and he is responsible for taking them out to the field every day to let them graze.

On this particular day, it was raining harder than usual, and Buntheoun dreaded going out into the rain and getting soaked. He wasn’t feeling well either, and really wanted to take a nap instead. “I don’t want to take the cows out today,” he thought to himself. “Why do I have to do it all the time, anyway? Vuthor and Sokha are perfectly capable of doing it also, especially because they’re older than me. ” With that thought, he went over to where his brothers were sitting. “Hey, why don’t you take the cows out today? I think you should do it. ” “No way, Buntheoun,” they replied. “Go away. ”

Buntheoun started feeling angry because they didn’t do what he asked. Couldn’t they see that he wasn’t feeling well? So he went over to his father, complaining, “Dad, I don’t want to take the cows out. I think you should do it. It’s raining and I’m weak. Do you know how difficult it is for me to take the cows to the field on rainy days? Since you’re bigger and older, you should take the cows out. ” After listening to him complain like that, Buntheoun’s father’s frowned deeply, and Buntheoun could tell that he was upset. Seeing his father’s angry face, he turned and ran as fast as he could.

The Bible says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ” (Proverbs 15:1). • Did Buntheoun’s way of communicating his thoughts and feelings to his brothers and father prevent or stir up conflict? Did he improve the situation or make it worse? (The way Buntheoun chose to communicate stirred up conflict. ) That’s right. Buntheoun communicated his thoughts and feelings in a manner that got him into trouble. Instead of being heard and understood, he was ignored and probably punished. Has something like this ever happened to you?

If it has, then you, like Carlos, need to learn a better way to communicate so that others will be more likely to listen to you and understand you. You need to learn to think before you speak. Let’s talk about the what, why, and how of effective communication that pleases Jesus. Sending Messages • What do you think it means to communicate? (Answers will vary. ) Here is a simple definition that we will use for the word communicate: to send and receive messages. • Why is communication important? (Answers will vary. ) One of the main purposes of communication is to help others understand you better and you to understand them.

The more clearly and respectfully you communicate, the more likely it will be that others will understand and respond appropriately to your thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. Good communication does not guarantee that you will get your way, but it can increase understanding and prevent unnecessary conflict. Another purpose of communication is to build others up. God wants the words you speak to be helpful, encouraging, and good for the listener to hear. He is never pleased when you make fun of someone, talk back, or use words that intentionally hurt another person.

The Apostle Paul says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). People will usually respond favorably to you when your communication is helpful. Sometimes you will communicate to: • Encourage or praise others. • Express your thoughts and feelings. • Help someone recognize his or her sin. • Ask questions so you can understand another person’s point of view. • Share something that the Lord has been teaching you though his Word.

This kind of communication is helpful and constructive. On the other hand, communication that tears others down will usually cause conflict. For instance, your communication may: • Ridicule someone. • Express anger at someone when you don’t get your own way. • Spread rumors about another person. • Carelessly hurt a person’s feelings. This kind of communication is hurtful and destructive. Once you decide why you need to communicate with someone, then it will be necessary to think about what you want to communicate and how to do so in the best way possible.

In other words, you need to think before you speak. Verbal and Nonverbal Before you communicate, you need to think about the verbal and nonverbal messages you are going to send to other people. Verbal communication means that you send messages using words, sounds, or tone of voice. This is done by: • Talking, whispering, shouting, mumbling, screaming, talking back, sighing, etc. Verbal communication is usually easier to understand than nonverbal communication, because words have certain meanings. You can understand what I mean if I say: • Hi! • Have you eaten rice yet? Please sweep the ground. Nonverbal communication means that you send messages by your actions, gestures, or facial expressions. This is sometimes called body language. • Eye contact, facial expressions, body posture, listening. See if you can tell me what I am communicating with these nonverbal messages. (Teachers, act out the following messages. ) • Wave hello to a friend. • Wave your fist and look angry. • Slump your shoulders and look sad. • Jump up and down and act excited. • Motion with your hand to come over here. • Stare into the sky and look disgusted or bored. I” Messages When you communicate verbally, it is important to think before you speak and plan to put words together in a respectful and responsible way. One way to do this is to use “I messages. ” These messages begin with the word “I” instead of you. Rather than focusing on what others may have done wrong, “I messages” describe your situation, feelings, or thoughts and show that you are taking responsibility for your part in the conflict or a difficult situation. The five steps are “I messages” to use when you need to confess sinful attitudes and actions.

But there are other uses for “I messages. ” For example, you can use “I messages” to • Demonstrate that you are taking responsibility for your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, needs, and desires, and explain your reasons for them. • Confront a person about what he or she had done. • Request that a need be met or a desire considered. • Ask for something you want. • Express thanks and appreciation. Let’s think about Buntheoun for a moment. If he had used “I messages” to express his feelings and respectfully tell his father, he could have helped to prevent the conflict that occurred between them.

He could have said something like: “Father, it is very difficult for me to take the cows out to the field when it is raining. Today I am not feeling well, and I am very tired. ” By using these words, Buntheoun could communicate his feelings to his brothers and fathers in a respectful way. The message doesn’t disrespect or offend them, but still allows them to understand Buntheoun’s feelings. If Buntheoun uses respectful and wise words, he cannot be responsible for the way that they react. For example, if Buntheoun’s brothers still speak rudely to him, it is not his responsibility any more.

It is important for him to think before he speaks so he won’t provoke a worse conflict. What to Communicate Like Buntheoun, you need to think before you speak. Think about using “I messages, which will communicate to others that you are taking responsibility for your sinful attitudes and actions, as well as your thoughts and feelings about what others have done. “I” messages should not be used to manipulate others to satisfy your desires. Instead, they should be spoken to improve understanding, benefit the listener, and build stronger relationships. How well people listen to you is partly up to you and your choice to communicate respectfully.

You will choose to communicate many things, such as: • What you think • What you see • What you believe • Questions you have • How you feel • Experiences you’ve had • What you need • Thanks and appreciation • What you want • Confession and confrontation • Can you think of other things that you communicate? (Accept appropriate answers. ) You will send these messages by using verbal communication (with words or sounds) or nonverbal communication (without words or sounds). The way you communicate verbally and nonverbally is a choice. Like other choices, what you say and how you say it can lead to conflict.

When you choose to send messages by glaring, arguing, throwing temper tantrums, or pouting, you will usually slide into the slip zone and get into fights and quarrels with others. We need to communicate to let other people know what is going on in our minds and hearts. Clear and careful communication can help people understand us. Look at the following examples of clear or confusing communication that can either reduce the risk of conflict or create misunderstandings and relationship problems. Notice the use of “I” messages. Identify Facts: Facts are the things that exist or occur. For example: Mom, give me money for a snack today” (disrespectful). “Mom, I’m leaving to go to school now. Could you please give me snack money? ” (respectful). Explain Thoughts: Thoughts include ideas, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and evaluations. For example: “Math is dumb! ” (disrespectful). “I’m not doing as well in math as I thought I would” (respectful). Express Feelings: Explain how people and circumstances affect you. For example: “I hate Nita” (disrespectful). “I feel angry when Nita makes fun of me” (respectful). Discuss Plans: Describe plans you have made and seek permission to carry them out. For example: “I’m going to Sokphie’s house.

I don’t know when I will be back” (disrespectful). “I’d like to go to Sokphie’s house. Is it okay for me to take the bicycle? ” (respectful). Describe Your Needs or Desires: Needs are things you need in order to live, while desires include things you want. For example: “Get me a new book! ” (disrespectful). “Dad, I’d sure like to have a new book. The one I have is getting old” (respectful). Express Thanks and Appreciation: Always express thanks for what others have done. Ingratitude is at the root of many conflicts and relationship problems. For example: “You finally got enough money to pay the school fees” (disrespectful). Thank you for working hard to pay for my school fees” (respectful). Confront a Person At times you may need to talk to other people about something they did that was wrong or hurtful. This is called confrontation. It is often wise to ask them to give you permission to explain how their choices affected you or someone else. Be careful that you don’t use the word “you” to start your confrontation. “You” is an accusatory word. It usually makes people respond by arguing and excusing their behavior. A respectful “I” message can help people understand how their choices affected you, but it doesn’t demand a response from them.

Many people will listen to a respectful confrontation and respond with an apology. No matter how they respond, you are only responsible for how you communicate! Listen to the following examples and tell me which one is respectful and responsible. “You never care about me” (disrespectful). Dad, may I explain how I am feeling? I am not feeling well today” (respectful). • Can you think of other examples of respectful communication? Any communication can lead to conflict if you do not think before you speak. But if you communicate thoughtfully and respectfully, your words can build bridges between you and other people.

They will understand you better, and they will usually respond to you in a more respectful way. Role Play Activity: You need to confront your friend. You are pretty sure he stole your pen. Think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it so you don’t make the problem worse. Confess before Confronting There may be times when you sense tension between you and another person. You’ve tried to overlook the times you’ve been hurt, but there seems to be a growing problem between the two of you. If you slip into the escape zone, you will probably do nothing except become more angry and resentful toward the person.

If instead you slip into the attack zone, you will probably try to retaliate by saying or doing things that hurt the other person. Neither of these responses will please and glorify the Lord, nor will they keep you on top of the slip zone. You have another choice. First, you need to examine your own choices and use the five steps to confess your responsibility for any part you played in the conflict. There are three reasons for this: • First, you need to take responsibility for your part because God tells you to do so (see Matthew 7:5). Second, your confession will prevent the other person from using your sin as an excuse for his or her sins. • Finally, your confession will be a good example for others to follow. Your confession could make it easier for the other person to confess as well. After using the five steps, you can confront the other person about the things that he or she did that hurt or troubled you. By using “I” messages, you can explain to the person how his or her choices affected you. It is important to remember that confrontation must always be done respectfully if it is to glorify God and benefit the other person.

It should never be done to hurt someone or just to dump your feelings on someone else. Role Play Activity: You have made friends with a girl in your neighborhood who is Vietnamese. Two of your other friends ridicule her because of her nationality, and they start ignoring you because you are her friend. At first you give them dirty looks and talk about them behind their backs. But then you decide that you need to respectfully confront your friends about how their choices are affecting you and your new friend. Remember to use the five steps to confess your contribution to the conflict first.

Overlook Or Confront? When you are deciding whether or not to confront a person about a problem, it is always a good idea to remember Proverbs 19:11, where God gives us wise advice. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook and offense. ” In other words, it is wise and pleases God when you overlook or ignore most of the little things that others do that bother you. But if someone has a sinful habit or if you find yourself getting more upset about a situation, it is better to confront a person about the problem in a respectful way. Needs, Desires, or Demands?

Let’s talk about needs and desires for a moment. There are many needs that are legitimate needs, but when they are communicated in a sinful way, they become demands and can lead to conflict. For instance, you may really need a new pair of shoes. But if you throw a temper tantrum because your mother can’t buy them for you, you have turned a need into a selfish desire. You need to confess that you gave into your sinful heart instead of waiting patiently for things you need or want. Remember, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

You can have a need or desire for something without making a demand. You can communicate your desire in a respectful way, and then respond just as respectfully if you don’t get what you want. It is important to remember that not all desires are wrong or bad. It is when you turn your desires into demands that problems arise. I Role Play Activity: You have asked permission to go buy some cakes, but your parents say “no”. Act out both a wrong and a right way for you to respond to this situation. Effective Communication We have discovered that we communicate both verbally and nonverbally.

We have discussed the importance of using “I” messages to effectively communicate thoughts, feelings, needs, desires, and confrontations. It is also important to know that we will choose to send verbal and nonverbal messages in two other ways: disrespectfully, which is sinful and often causes conflict, or respectfully, which is good and glorifies the Lord. Respectful or Disrespectful Talk Disrespectful communication sends messages that you are demanding your own way and will accept nothing less. It is likely that you will have unpleasant consequences for choosing to communicate in a selfish and sinful way.

In addition, it’s possible that people won’t listen to you or even consider what you are saying when you communicate in this manner. • What are some examples of disrespectful communication? (To grumble, complain, criticize, ridicule, curse, gossip, talk back, nag, whine, pout, argue, or throw temper tantrums. ) The opposite is also true. If you think before you speak and choose to communicate respectfully, you will send messages with your words and your tone of voice that most people will listen to. You will communicate to build up, (being helpful), not to tear down (being hurtful).

When you communicate respectfully, people will probably consider what you have to say. They may not always agree with you, and they may not let you have what you want, but they will be more likely to listen to your respectful communication without getting angry. • What are some examples or respectful and responsible communication? (“I” messages that communicate confession, confrontation, thanks and appreciation, thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. ) Respectful communication is obedient to God. It is his desire that children respect persons in authority, especially their parents.

God clearly communicates this desire on the commandment given to Moses at Mount Sinai. “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). The Lord echoes this desire in the New Testament through the Apostle Paul. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3). Even though there are many reasons why you should communicate respectfully, the most important reason is because God tells us to.

The Bible says, “He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23). This verse teaches that you need to think about what you say and how you say it so that you don’t make the problem worse. Ask God to give you a righteous heart and a respectful mouth. Always remember to speak to others as you want them to speak to you. Doing so pleases the Lord and builds stronger relationships. Wrapping It Up In this lesson we learned that we need to think before we speak. We need to think about why we need to communicate and how we can communicate more effectively.

We also discovered that we will send verbal and nonverbal messages to others in a respectful or disrespectful way. If we are going to communicate to others in a way that pleases the Lord, then we must choose to communicate respectfully. When we send messages in a respectful way it is more likely that we will be heard and understood. During the upcoming week, I want you to pay close attention to the kind of words you use to communicate. Do you communicate to others in a respectful way? In the next lesson, we will talk about using respectful communication as a way to resolve or prevent conflict.

With God’s help, you can learn to “guard your mouth and your tongue and “keep yourself from calamity. ” Closing Prayer Dear Lord, I know that many conflicts I get into happen because I communicate in a sinful way. I say and do things that are disrespectful and then I wonder why people get upset with me. Please forgive me for communicating from my selfish heart. Help me to learn to communicate my thoughts, my feelings, my needs, and my desires in a respectful way. Help me to think about what I say and how I say it. Please help me to prevent conflict by communicating in a way that pleases you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dig into the Word Memory Verse: Proverbs 21:23 Other Relevant Bible Verses: Proverbs 10:19, 12:18, 15:1, 21:23, Matthew 15:18-19, Ephesians 4:29, James 1:19 Applicable Bible Stories: Assign one or more of the following passages to help students analyze conflict situations in the Bible. David, Nabal, and Abigail (I Samuel 25:1-35) Nathan Confronting David (2 Samuel 12:1-13) The Lesson Summary Bible Memory Verse: “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23). Key Principle: Think before you speak. The Main Points of This Lesson 1. Sending Messages is Important . We communicate when we send or receive messages. b. One of the main purposes of communication is to help others understand you better and you to understand them. c. Another purpose for communication is to build others up. 2. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication a. Verbal communication means that you use words, tone of voice, or sounds to send messages. b. A respectful way to communicate your thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires is by using “I” messages. c. Nonverbal communication means that you send messages using actions, gestures, or facial expressions. d. Examples of nonverbal communication: . Eye contact, body posture, facial expressions, gestures. 3. What to Communicate a. What we think b. What we believe c. How we feel d. What we need e. What we want f. What we see g. Questions we have h. Our experiences i. Thanks and appreciation j. Confession and confrontation We choose what we will say and how we will say it. To confront others means that you try to help them understand how their choices have affected you or someone else. 4. Effective Communication a. Respectful communication is good and pleases the Lord. b. Disrespectful communication is sinful and often causes conflict.

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