The Communication Tool that Opens Hearts … and Linkup!

Listeningwell.jpg

If you’ve been viewing over the past month or so my video podcasts, then you’re aware that I promised to tell you about a communication “tool” that my husband and I use to handle conflicts effectively.

That tool is “reflective listening.”

I’m going to provide detailed instructions on how to practice reflective listening in its truest sense, along with a question guide that’s designed to help you share and explore a conflict with your spouse effectively below.

Active listening is one of the most effective communication tools or skills you’ll find. It can soothe relational wounds or offenses {especially if you practice it often} with amazing results!

With true reflective listening you must parrot or repeat back what you’ve heard the speaker say without interpreting or putting it into your own words. You simply want to let the message enter your brain and then flow back out of your mouth.

This allows the listener to …

  1. Think or fully receive what is being said—requiring greater concentration than casual listening.
  2. Engage another part of the brain by recalling what was said with accuracy.
  3. Remain focused on the speaker’s message instead of his/her own thoughts {which often results in rebuttals or defensiveness}.
  4. Speak the words back, which reinforces the listener’s understanding and memory of the message.
  5. Feel the impact of his/her own actions in a much more tangible and powerful way as the words are repeated back, potentially resulting in empathy if the listener’s defenses are sufficiently dropped.

When you first try this tool, you’ll probably feel like it’s awkward. You might also feel like it seems to avoid dealing with the nitty-gritty of the hurt in the relationship. That’s because we all want to have our say in times of conflict. But …

“Having our say” – asserts the “confronted party’s” rights and often causes him/her to remain hard-hearted by what was meant to soften the conflict.

“Connecting with our mates” through reflective listening – involves coming alongside the speaker, like teammates ready to tackle the issue, rather than fighting against one another.

At some point, if you’ve practiced reflective listening faithfully and over time, it will integrate into your everyday communication and relational style, where thoughtful responses and deeper understanding replace reacting, stonewalling and emotional meltdowns. Grab the communication tool guide here!

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” –James 1:19-20

Also for further assistance on how to apologize after a boundary conversation check out my post – How and When to Apologize.

Check out the new Video page on Messy Marriage here.

What fears or faulty beliefs do you have about using this “tool” with your mate?

 

What positive results do you think using this “tool” in times of tension or conflict would produce in your marriage?

 


 

Joining with my friends at  Works for Me Wednesday,  Wifey Wednesday,  Coffee and Conversation,  Wholehearted Wednesday,  Whimsical Wednesday,  What You Wish Wednesday, and Essential Fridays.

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  • Thanks for a great link up and also a great post. Thanks for encouraging us in our marriage. Blessings

    • You’re so welcome, Terri! Great to have you joining me here each week!

  • Have I told you lately how much I love your practical counsel? 🙂

    • Aren’t you cute?! I guess we have a mutual admiration friendship going on in the blogosphere, Becky. I do wish I could grab a cup of coffee or tea with you in person. Maybe one day! Thanks for always being a bright spot in my week!

  • Reflective listening is a great conflict-defuser, and brings understanding to both sides, but there are people with whom it doesn’t work well.

    ‘Some individuals are so conditioned to blame, and so terrified of being found in the wrong, that reflective listening becomes a sort of active mea culpa for the listener; the reflection is seen as agreement to one’s presumptive guilt, and it can actually inflame the passions of the speaker.

    Certainly a mea culpa can be necessary, but I’m referring to situations in which the scope of the complaint suddenly snowballs far past the issue at hand, and becomes a litany of past transgressions and character flaws.

    I’ve found that the best way to handle that situation is to listen attentively in silence, and at the end say, “I will try to do better in the future”. It serves two functions; first, it lets the person with the complaint get ‘talked out’; a big part of the problem is something of an itch to make oneself heard in full, and when that’s satisfied, the mainspring of the complaint’s bee run down.

    Second, saying that I will try to do better is an implicit admission of wrongdoing which, when coupled with the full delivery of the complaint, provides for a satisfying denouement for the confrontation.

    • Certainly any time the conversation goes awry, being humble and apologizing for any misunderstanding or hurt is the best “go to” strategy. It’s just so very hard to do that if we’ve been blasted by the speaker or listener. This process needs to always be done with respect or there’s little hope for improvement or growth. Thanks for coming by, Andrew!

  • Thank you for another great post and link up! 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Stasia! Glad to have you in the linkup and as a host to my post over at your place. 🙂

  • Mary

    I have used reflective listening over and over in my job as a teacher – with students, parents and colleagues. It does take the confrontation piece out of the conversation and inserts a level playing field that denotes caring. Your tools are always pertinent to all in whatever walk in life they are and provide practical steps we all can implement. Wednesday blessings!

    • I think Jesus was a great question asker. He knew that sometimes a direct response is less engaging than a question to share more. I would think that as a teacher, Mary, this would be a wonderful coping mechanism, especially when you deal with irritated or irrational parents! I bet you have lots of experience keeping your cool and soothing the situation with kindness and active listening skills. Thanks for your continued encouragement and support here, my friend!

  • This tool will work very effectively in any marriage. When we seek to understand our spouses rather than what we think about what they said and our own interpretation, it will give us the capacity to put the information to a positive use and hence make the necessary adjustments required.
    Thanks very much beth, this is another keeper!

    • Yes, Ugochi, it truly does help us to put it into perspective and and into positive use. It takes a bit of humility to be willing to go there with our mates–especially if we feel our mates are angry with us. But it truly can soothe and calm a tense moment in marriage. Thanks for coming by and adding to the discussion, my friend!

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  • I have spoken at retreats over the years on biblical communication and this is SPOT ON girlfriend. So glad you are able to provide us with wonderful reminders. When one spouse “wins” in a marriage, everyone loses! xoxo (it’s fun to be back to blogging, have missed your words!)

    • I was saying to Mary above that Jesus was a great listener and question “asker” as well, Nicki. He knew that this could reveal so much more than simply nodding in agreement and moving on. We need to “camp out” sometimes with our spouses–really listening and entering their world if we ever hope to feel unified. As you’ve said, this is a way to be for each other and not try to “win” an argument. Thanks for your encouragement here, my friend. So glad to see you back in the linkup!

  • Wow, Beth. You go deep and practical here. Such rich wisdom and common sense counsel.

    If we ever need marriage counseling, we’ll commute, ok?

    • Thanks so much, Linda. I don’t know about how “deep” this is but it sure is powerful. When Gary and I use this “tool” we get so much further and … well, I suppose deeper in our understanding of one another! I guess you know how to spot it, don’t ya, Linda! ha! The commute thing, well, you’re welcome to come visit us any time, girlfriend! But I’ll be putting my “counselor hat” away when you come and will put on my “party hat” instead! 😉

      • I like a good party hat …

        ;-}

  • This is a wonderful tool which can be used in communicating with anyone. When I have used it, I have found that there were times I totally misunderstood what was being said. There were also times when as I repeated what was said, the other person heard their own words & realized it was not what they meant or intended. Either way, confrontation was avoided. Thank you for always offering such practical wisdom!

    • Isn’t that the truth, Joanne? Communication is so complex and multi-layered that thinking we can just talk it out without really taking in and mulling over what’s been said is just simply foolish. My hubby and I have experienced that same clarity when using this tool. I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful in the past. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!

  • Pam

    xoxo love it, Beth! Great insights! I know you and Gary practice this.
    Pam

    • You are too sweet, my bestie! Thanks for your continued encouragement and support here, Pam! Hugs to you!

  • This is such an important tool to have in marriage. Everyone wants to be heard and understood. It seems that many of the problems (in marriage) can be overcome or fade when this can be put into place. I’ve seen it happen over and over. It’s wonderful.

    • Yes, they really can fade, Kim. Sometimes that’s what can calm and soothe years of angst in a marriage–simply listening and saying, “I can see why you’d feel that way. I’d feel that way too, if the shoe were on the other foot.” But we often want to think we are in the right and miss this great opportunity to bond and humble ourselves with our mates. Thanks for your kindness to me, dear friend! Blessings to you!

  • Listening is a sure sign of respect for the other person. Thanks for the link party.

    • Yes, that’s really the bottom line on this, isn’t it, Lux? We all want to be respected and listening is one surefire way to extend that courtesy and kindness. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, my friend!

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