Communication 101  –  A Key to a Really Great Marriage

James 1:19; Proverbs 15:1;  Ephesians 4:15, 29;  Romans 12:15

ACTIVE Listening

A – Attend, pay attention
C – Connect, body language, eye contact
T – Thoroughly listen, let others finish, be quiet and hear what is said
I –  Insert questions and comments as appropriate, “Would you clarify?”
V – Verbalize understanding and identification without trying to “outdo”
E – Exit graciously:  pray, set next time, perhaps set limits up front by setting a time frame for the discussion so you don’t take too much time or give so much that other priorities suffer.  *

*Exit Graciously illustrated – (for example, “I have about 10 minutes before I have to be at my next appointment.”, “Perhaps we should wait until another time because I have only 15 minutes to talk.”, “Would you pray with me about this?”, When can we set a time to discuss this further?”, etc.)

Communication STOPPERS: replies that don’t help

  • “Martyrs” reply – “You think that was bad, wait until you hear mine.”
  • “Criticism” reply – “What’s wrong with you now?”
  • “Ignore or change subject” reply – “Did you see those Braves yesterday?”, “I have to go get something.”, “Oh, look at the time.”
  • “Minimize” reply – “It can’t be all that bad.”
  • “Advice, logic, or reason” reply – “What you should have done was”
  • “Sarcasm or humor” reply – “I am so sure that really happened!”
  • “Pep talk” reply -“You are better than they are so just don’t worry.”

Notes – by way of explanation

1.  Ephesians 4:15 says we are to speak the “truth in love”.  When a person comes to us with expressed emotion – excitement, sadness, joy, or disappointment – our initial response sets the tone for the conversation.  The Communication Stoppers above are effective at killing communication or keeping it from getting real or deep.  A proper response initially to “rejoice with those who rejoice” or “mourn with those who mourn” works wonders if you want more from a conversation than grunts and one-word answers to your questions.  See suggestions below. (Romans 12:15

2.  Serve the Ball:  Asking questions such as, “Would you tell me something about your day that made you feel successful?” might evoke deeper response than “How was your day?”

  • Return the Volley:  Responding well is another key to conversation
  • Responding to “Honey, I had the worst day today and didn’t sell a thing.” – might sound like, “I am so sorry you had such a discouraging day.  My heart hurts to see you so sad.”
  • Responding to “Honey, I got the best complement today from a client.  He said I was the best he’d ever seen at doing my job.”  – might sound like, “That is so great.  You are very skilled at what you do, and I am so proud of you.”

Conclusion:  The ACTIVE Listening skills listed above may sound like a foreign language, but they are key components in the language of the heart.  This language of the heart is of great value when the communication of love and care is the goal. What are the “Consequences of Poor Communication”?

  1. Communication is a Two-Way Street versus a One-Way Street with a Dead End.
  2. Communication is a drive in the country where I am a passenger at least as often as I am the driver.  I can appreciate the scenery more when I don’t have to be in control.
  3. To listen well to others attempting to understand builds great potential for closeness in that relationship and meets deep relational needs.
  4. Do you communicate respect or self-centeredness in communication?
  5. Great conversations are similar to the dynamics of volleying in ping pong/table tennis.  Serve the ball (question) for a return (answer) not to score a point (win the argument or dominate).  Keep the ball in play and attempt to move from speaker to listener often.

Practice:  Ask your journey partner and apply A C T I V E –

  • Would you tell me something that happened recently that made you happy?
  • Would you tell me a great memory from your childhood?
  • Would you tell me something that made you feel sad or hurt?