A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11, ESV Communication provides the lifeblood of relationship. Perhaps our Lord gave us so many communication tools because He knew communicating would also be challenging. We sometimes miss the most basic of messages. We assume that we heard correctly and come away with a totally different meaning from what the speaker (or writer) intended. We're so focused on communicating our own message that we fail to even attend to what the other person is sharing. Here are four key strategies that give you the most "bang for your buck" in building better relationships:1. Listen to understand, not to respond.Mutual understanding is key to resolving conflicts, avoiding conflicts, and building stronger connections.2. Use "I" statements over "you" declarationsThe more we use "you" statements--"You are selfish"--the more fuel we throw on the fire. However, the more we use "I" statements--"I feel that you don't care about my feelings when you come late to pick me up"--the more we move the discussion closer to a peaceful resolution.3. Choose the best communication mode for your message.Email, text messages, and other entirely verbal forms work best for communicating facts. Topics that are more complex or emotional are best saved for the richer communication mediums. It's also important to somewhat match the message to the receiver.4. Be direct yet diplomatic.Craft a message that clearly conveys your thoughts and feelings in the most grace-filled way possible. Which of these strategies can you use today to improve your relationships?