We communicate with people on a daily basis, and what’s better than learning some important types of etiquette that could improve our daily interactions!
The Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) has taught us everything including manners and etiquettes of communicating with people in meetings, gatherings and elsewhere. If we were to follow the Sunnah when communicating with people, we would be earning ourselves a great deal of reward, Insha’Allah.
So, let’s recall some of Prophet Muhammad’s communication skills. But before proceeding, remember that our intentions must be pure and sincere, and unnecessary communication with non-mahrams of the opposite sex should be avoided as much as possible:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Before you start talking, smile! This is an instant ingredient to start any conversation positively and to remove any past ill feelings that could be present.
Smiling brings joy to the giver and the receiver (imagine being both!).
2– Pay attention to the tone and volume
Beware of your tone and the volume of your voice. Your tone determines whether you will make your relationship or break it. Any undesirable loudness in your voice could put people off and make any further attempts to communicate futile.
And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys. (Luqman 31:19)
3– Start with the Islamic greeting of peace
Whether you know this Muslim or not, the greeting of peace or saying ‘Assalamu `Alaykum’ (peace be upon you) is recommended. It will repel hatred and create love between you.
“A man came to the Prophet and said: Peace be upon you! He responded to his salutation. He then sat down. The Prophet said: Ten (rewards). Another man came and said: Peace and Allah’s mercy be upon you! He responded to his salutation when he sat down. He said: Twenty. Another man came and said: Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you! He responded to him and said when he sat down: and blessings be upon you! He responded to him and said when he sat down: Thirty.” (Abu Dawud)
Habituate yourself with saying the full and complete greeting and earn 30 rewards every single time you greet someone!
4– Shake hands
Accompany your greeting with shaking hands (if you are greeting your mahram (husband or close male relative forbidden in marriage) or a person of your gender).
“There are no two Muslims who meet and shake hands, but they will be forgiven before they part.” (Ibn Majah)
5– Inquire about people
Ask them how they are doing and inquire about their health and well-being and that of their family and friends. They will feel loved and cared for.
6– Remember not all are the same
Consider people’s different characteristics and differences while communicating. Keep in mind their age, status, temperament and other factors.
7– Teach at every opportunity
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used every chance to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. If there is ever a need for you to say something corrective in nature, do so gently.
8– Refrain from the common evils of the tongue
People getting together and communicating with each other often leads to falling into various sins related to the tongue such as talking about Allah (Exalted be He) without knowledge, slandering, lying, insulting and cursing.
These habits are grievous sins that eat away at our rewards and the blessing in our lives: make it a habit to ensure whether anything you are about to say may constitute any of these sins. And, if you were to indulge in joking, let the jokes be true. The Prophet said:
“A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.” (Al-Bukhari)
9– Choose simple, concise words
Avoid complex language and sophisticated terminologies. Instead, try to stick to concise words and phrases that are of eloquence and seek to be understood. The Prophet said:
“I have been given superiority over the other prophets in six respects: I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning..” (Muslim)
He (peace be upon him) spoke with clarity and made people comprehend easily, sometimes by even repeating his words thrice.
10– Stay away from argumentation
Being nice is easy when you’re dealing with nice people. But, practically speaking, this world has more to it than such people. Despite your best efforts, you are bound to walk into not-so-nice people. Try not to fall into disputes and argumentation.
And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabireen (the patient ones). (Al-Anfal 8:46)
If you realize you are already in a dispute, be wise and argue with that which is better. Allah says:
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity (will become) as though he was a devoted friend. (Fussilat 41:34)
If you find the argument going nowhere positive, stop before you get angry, smile and retreat after trying your best to reconcile for when a man said to the Prophet “Advise me,” he said: “Do not get angry.” He repeated his question several times and again the Prophet said: “Do not get angry.” (Al-Bukhari)
11– End with the greeting
Before departing, smile, shake hands and greet people warmly with the salam.
12– In writing, start with Allah’s Name
If you were to communicate in writing, in addition to the points above that are relevant, it is desirable to start your written communication with ‘Bismillaahi Ar–Rahman Ar–Raheem” (In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful).
This was done by the Prophet numerous times when he dispatched letters to kings and heads of peoples and tribes.
So that was a list of the basic etiquette from the Sunnah on communicating effectively with people. Smiling and starting with the salam, speaking kindly and gently, showing warmth by shaking hands or a hug, giving due respect and/or showing love by considering the position of whom you are addressing, saying only that which is good and beneficial, choosing to be patient and kind over being right, and always ending with a warm smile and the salam: what a beautiful way to create love in your brother’s or sister’s heart for you!
Here’s a verse to further motivate you to communicate the Sunnah way:
Whoever comes (on the Day of Judgment) with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof (to his credit), and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (Al-An`am 6:160)
I hope this reminder of communicating effectively by following the Sunnah has benefited you, Insha’Allah. Do share great ways you’ve discovered or tried in communicating effectively with others.
I leave you with the best greetings: “Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh” (May the peace and mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you).