Why won’t they understand? Why don’t they get it? Why can’t they just listen to me? When was the last time you were seeking helpful advice, affirmation, empathy, or help but received anything except that? Find out here.
How to communicate with your brother or sister-in-law when the relationship is conflicted is the subject for this video lesson. This post is the outline of the notes for the session. Dr. Don made this presentation to Titus 2 Community and Explicitly Christian Marriage, both are Christian marriage support groups.
How healthy is your communication in your marriage? How well do you listen? Taking wisdom from the Bible and the latest research in interpersonal communication, learn how to apply 7 excellent listening skills for healthy and successful relationships.
7 Excellent Listening Skills for Successful Communication was a live presentation for Titus 2 Community's Christian Marriage Support Group. For more information about T2C, go here. In this lesson, you rate yourself in terms of how well you listen. See the picture below:
Follow along with these notes:
One of the things often at the center of much conflict is poor communication between people. It could be due to sloppy talk, genuine misunderstanding, or poor listening skills.
As you watch this video and go through these seven skills, take a self-exam. Score each one with
5 Always 4 Frequently 3 Sometimes 2 Infrequently 1 Never
1. I desire to please God in my communication with my spouse.
(1 Cor. 10:31)
2. I am concerned about my spouse enough to be interested in what s/he says
(Phil. 2:3; Eph. 4:2; Rom. 12:15)
a. Show interest in what is important to your partner.
b. Listen across time (remembering what they have said in previous conversations).
c. Make it easy for the other person to talk.
Use tracking: behaviors that help others keep on track (nodding head, keeping good eye contact, don’t interrupt, leaning forward, using prompting phrases such as “go ahead” or “and then”, etc.)
3. I am a ready and disciplined listener.
James 1:19 - So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
a. What this means:
(1) Most or all the time I stop what I’m doing and pay attention to my spouse.
(2) I concentrate on what s/he says.
(3) I attend to what my spouse is feeling.
(4) I put away things that can distract me from listening.
b. What is the opposite?
(1) I am consistently slow or unwilling to listen.
(2) My mind tunes out what s/he is talking about.
(3) I allow distractions to interfere with our talk (phone, computer, TV, book, games)
c. What to do:
(1) Put away distractions.
Be intentional about putting away things that can rob your conversation of the level of value it deserves.
(2) Look at the speaker – her eyes and lips.
(3) Don’t rush the conversation or talk too much.
(4) Allow for silence. It's fine and normal to pause and have moments of quiet.
(5) Concentrate. If you have a hard time doing that, then learn.
4. I think before I speak.
Prov.15:28 - The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Prov. 29:20 - Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
a. What this means
(1) Consider what is being said and accept it at face value.
(2) I grasp what my spouse is saying and then formulate a response in my mind.
(3) I think of the repercussions for what I am going to say before saying it.
Saying the right thing at the wrong time can sabotage the discussion.
Saying the wrong thing at the right time can hurt your spouse or the relationship.
Ex: during a home Bible study, a scientist, sitting next to his wife said he did not believe in beauty.
b. Doing the opposite:
(1) Thinking more about what I want to say than about the topic on hand. Most people are formulating what they want to say without considering if it is.
(2) Speaking without giving your response much thought.
This can be hard for people who think out loud.
(3) Automatically assume things and interpret what is being said.
c. What to do:
(1) Get in the habit of doing this: H.E.A.R. before you speak
H – Is it helpful?
E – Is it educational/informative?
A – Is it appropriate?
R – Is it relevant?
(2) If what is said is unclear, then ask good questions.
5. I wait until the other person has finished talking before answering.
Prov. 18:13 – If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Prov. 18:17 - The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
a. What this means:
(1) Being aware of the cues for when your spouse has finished the statement.
(2) I show respect for my spouse even if I don’t value something s/he said.
(3) Exercise patience to be considerate.
b. Doing the opposite:
(1) I talk too much (Job 11:2; 16:3; Eccles. 5:3; 6:11; 10:14).
(2) I jump ahead to answer or finish the sentence.
(3) Cut off your spouse when s/he is not finished.
(4) Walk away before the conversation is over.
c. What to do
(1) Don’t interrupt.
(a) When you do this, it means you are more concerned about making your point than hearing what your partner has to say.
(b) It’s rude and shows a lack of respect.
(c) It is a way to shut down your spouse or the conversation.
d. Know when to be silent and when to speak.
(1) A good dialog is like a dance.
A simple exercise is to use a soft, light-weight ball. When you are done talking, give the ball to your partner. In other words, whoever has the ball speaks.
e. If you are unclear about whether your spouse is finished, ask. Or use the ball.
6. I try to understand the other person’s viewpoint.
Prov. 18:2 - A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 18:15 - An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
a. What this means
(1) I make it a priority to study and know my spouse
(2) I make allowances for differences.
No two people think exactly alike. If you and your spouse were alike, then one of you would be redundant.
Research has demonstrated that men’s brains and women’s brains are different.
b. Doing the opposite
(1) When my partner is talking, I react or draw improper conclusions.
Ex: Job’s friends were so bad at understanding Job and what he was going through that he finally said, “Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!” See Job 13:5.
(2) I am lazy and do not work at understanding my spouse or her/his opinions.
For example, in 1 Peter, God calls on Christian men to live with their wives in an understanding way.
c. What to do to understand the other person’s perspective: G.R.A.S.P. what they are saying.
G - Give grace to your husband or wife.
R -Repeat back what you hear them say.
A – Ask genuine questions to clarify what was said.
S – Sympathize
Validate their emotion. This does not mean you agree with what is said or how s/he feels but that you acknowledge how they are feeling. This is a good step toward empathy and a great way to make your partner feel felt.
“I hear frustration. Am I reading you right?”
“Your tone comes across as angry. Are you?”
P – Paraphrase the response to make sure you heard right.
7. In important discussions, I stay on topic and answer appropriately.
Proverbs 15:23 - To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
How did you score?
7 = You need help.
21 = Not bad but you need to work on some things.
35 = Fantastic! You’re a great listener!
If you have any thoughts or questions, let me know in the comments box. Would you like to improve your listening skills? Contact me to see how we can work together to improve your listening skills and elevate your relationships.