John Powell lists five levels of communication. Each one deeper and more meaningful than the last. Try to identify the level you and your mate most commonly employ, then seek to improve your communication by moving to deeper levels.
Level 5: Common conversation, which includes everyday, casual conversation, based on safe, surface statements such as, “How are you?”
“How is the family?” “Where have you been?” “I like your suit.” Lacking depth, common conversation barely acknowledges that the other person is alive.
Level 4: Reporting facts about others. At this level you are quoting others instead of giving personal commentary. “It will be a sunny day.”
The weather is too hot” “It will rain soon.” There is little or no emotion or commitment at this level.
Level 3: My ideas and judgements. This is where real communication begins. Here you are willing to step out and risk expressing a personal opinion in order to be part of the decision-making process. You may feel insecure at this level, but at least you are willing to take a chance. Persons who are threatened at this level often retreat to the higher, more impersonal levels of communication.
Level 2: These are my feelings, my emotions. At this level, we express how we feel about the facts, ideas, and judgements expressed at higher levels. We may say, “I feel so much better when the sun is shining.” Information is not enough at this level. Feelings must be shared in order to communicate.
Level 1: This encompasses complete emotional and personal truthful communication. This level of communication requires complete openness and honesty and involves great risk. All deep and enriching relationship operates at this level. It takes great deal of trust, love and understanding to communicate truthfully. This level is not dumping ground for negativity, but a place where each partner treats the other with love and concern.
Use the following questions to help you evaluate the present communication in your marriage.
- What level of communication is most common to you and your partner?
- What are the indicators of your communication level?
- What actions can you take to move your communication to deeper level? If you and your mate have stop listening to each other, here are some helpful tips to improve your relationship.
- Realise that each of you has a basic need to be listen to.
- Listen intently when your partner is talking to you. Don’t just think about your answers. Listening is more than politely waiting for your turn to speak.
- Listen objectively. Put down the newspaper, turn off the TV, look at your partner in the eye, and pay attention.
- Reach out and care about what is being said. Listening is active participation, not passive observance.
- Move past the surface message and get to the heart of what is being said. Listening is more than hearing words.
- Discipline yourself to listen. Listening doesn’t come naturally or easily to any of us. Most of us are more comfortable when we are in control and speaking.
- Receive and process the message sent. Try to understand what is being said. A times the message may be painful, but you will be stretched if you continue to listen.
Timing; Timing is an important element in the success of communication. Honour your mate by selecting the best time to talk, listen and understand. Always allow your husband to unwind after he arrived home from work for 30 minutes to 1hour unless there was an emergency. Reserve meals time for pleasant, edifying and uplifting conversations. Serious topics must be saved after hunger has been satisfied. Then between dinner and bedtime you can cover up most serious issues if necessary.
If you have a very serious topic to address, secure a baby sitter and invite your wife out to dinner so you can talk, away from the distractions at home. Proverb 18:13 says, “he who answers before listening-that is his folly and his shame”.
B). Do you presume or judge as you listen? Non-verbal language is often stronger than the words that come out of your mouth. Don’t start shaking your head “no” before your wife had gotten her request out of her mouth. Replying before she has finished talking is a great disservice because you are basically telling her that her opinions and her request are unimportant even before she has time to fully express them. The answer may still be “no” but she will accept and understand better if you listen to her request, discuss them, then given an answer.
In order for your mate to realise you value her input, thoroughly hear her out before giving a response or pronouncing a judgement. This is especially important if the subject under discussion is of little interest to you. As a husband, it is important to welcome the news of your wife’s day, particularly when the children are young. Diapers, doctors, injections, crawling, messes, and nerves all have meaning to your wife. If they are important to her, then they should be important to you-even if they have little meaning to you.
Rose Corner with Rose HANSEY
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