I don't know about you; but in our own marriage, we have had numerous occasions when we were talking and what one of us said, isn't at all what the other one heard. The truth of the matter is that communication is 97% non verbal and 3% verbal (Mehrabian Communication Model)...There is A LOT that can be miscommunicated, misunderstood, and misinterpreted in that 97%.
Part 1 of the Did You Hear What I Said blog focused on types of communicators, In this blog we'll focus on that 97% of the communication process...specifically the LISTENING part. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. (James 1:19) All of us have room for improvement in the listening department.
Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying “People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." That is human nature; people want someone to care enough to truly listen to them: without formulating an answer while he/she is talking; without interruption; without judgement; without divided attention...truly listening. Take a couple minutes to listen to this quick clip from Jimmy Evans/Marriage Today, with regards to the "care factor" in communicating.
1. Focused Attention: We call this knee to knee; eye to
eye...look at each other. (Proverbs 7:24) Put the cell phone away! Technology is a wonderful servant; but a terrible master, as we've heard Pastor Jimmy Evans say with Marriage Today Ministry.
2. Listen with acceptance and understanding. (Proverbs 24:3) What does that mean? Sometimes we just need to get something off of our chest, so to speak. We need to give each other "the right to complain". This is not an opportunity to tear down your spouse; but rather an opportunity to talk through things that could become an issue if not dealt with. Because we purposefully communicate, are quick to forgive, and are on the same team (have each other's best interest at heart), COMPLAINING looks differently then CRITICIZING.
Complaining says: honey, I need to talk to you about something and because I know you have my best interest at heart I know when you said ______, that is not what you meant. However, it made me feel ______. Could you explain what you meant? "Constructive Complaining" creates unity and growth in the marriage relationship; Criticism is divisive and harms a relationship. For more on Constructive Complaining listen to Pastor Jimmy Evans with Marriage Today.
3. As we learned in Part 1 of this blog there are different types of communicators. This next point the "thinking out loud" communicator will love; however, the "let's take turns" communicator will have to purposefully work at this and appreciate the differences of the "think out loud" communicator. Point 3 is ask clarifying questions and make summarizing statements. This is also important to teach your children to make sure they understand what you are asking of them/communicating to them; and equally important, that you are understanding what they may be communicating to you.
Some good clarifying questions are:
"Are you telling me that....?"
"Can you tell me more about what you meant when you said..."
"So what you are saying is...."
"Ok thank you for sharing, let me see if I understand what you said...what I heard was..."
4. Finally, it is important to focus on WHAT is being said, not HOW it's being said. Emotions sometimes get the best of us. As we learn how to be better communicators, let's extend grace to one another and gently remind each other to be careful of our tone, our body language, our words...Remember 97% of communication is non-verbal; 3% is verbal. (Matthew 5:7; Colossians 4:6; Luke 6:36)
1. We have found that if we just think before we speak, our communication goes so much better. Is what I'm going to say edify? Is what I'm going say build up and encourage? Is what I'm going to say really necessary? "Carefully chosen words are the best way to express thoughts, feelings, and desires." (Proverbs 15:23/Weekend to Remember)
2. Sometimes silence is best...not everything we think needs to be said. Negative words, criticism and sarcasm NEVER need to be said. It's one thing to joke around because it's in fun and there is no victim. Sarcasm, on the other hand, is at someone else's expense and has a victim. Sarcasm is NEVER edifying. (Proverbs 10:19)
3. Ask to make sure you are being understood. "Honey, my heart's desire to for us to work through this together, does this make sense? Is there anything I can do to help you understand?"
4. Communicate in a way that will encourage and bring growth in the marriage relationship. You are one flesh. What you say to your spouse, good, bad or indifferent not only affects him/her, it will affect you as well. (Ephesians 4:29; Mark 10:8).
5. Be aware of your body language and personal space.
Bottom line: eye to eye, knee to knee...eye contact establishes intimacy and communicates care/you have my attention; and knee to knee is purposefully touching. It non verbally communicates "we are OK, my heart is for you, and we are going to work this out."
The ability to communicate and listen effectively is a KEY Marriage Maintenance issue. Purpose to learn the art of communicating before there is a marriage matter that becomes a serious matter. "It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow's viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences." (Harry S. Truman)
1. Choose one listening skill to purposefully work on as a couple.
2. Choose one expressing/communicating skill to work on as a couple.
3. Give each other permission to complain with the purpose of working together to come into agreement for a win/win. Remember, you are on the same team.
4. For further information on "The Secrets of Successful Communication" watch this short teaching with Pastor Jimmy Evans from Marriage Today Ministry.