TRANSCRIPT: Good morning, Five Minute Families. While covid-19 concerns still abound, here at Clear View Retreat we are encouraged by hearing about the game nights, family dinners, puzzle times, and more. Families are spending less time arguing and more time building one another up.
Instead of the attitude of “When life gives you lemons, squirt someone in the eye,” families are choosing to make lemonade! We must CHOOSE to add the sweetness in our relationships, not just attack each other. One way to do this is to engage in active listening.
Last week, one of our sons pointed out how we were all getting testy with each other. We discussed fears & frustrations and irritations & needs brought on by the massive changes in our society at this time. Once I started verbalizing all the pieces, I realized how overwhelming it all felt; though beforehand, I would have said that the pandemic wasn’t really affecting me much. Facing the challenges and verbalizing them to someone who was actively listening has been freeing. After the discussion I mentioned that he had learned the skill of listening well. My son was incredulous. He said it was not a skill. YOU. JUST. LISTEN.
However, we never JUST listen. We can JUST hear, but we cannot JUST listen. Hearing is the physical act of receiving sound to your ear whereas listening is the act of paying attention to what someone is communicating to you. Even in American Sign Language, wherein hearing cannot occur, the person who is signing uses many physical signs as well as other nonverbal cues to convey their full meaning.
Listening involves a sender and a receiver. Noises and nonverbal cues can interrupt, enhance, or even change the message being conveyed. Additionally, each person has many thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are running through their heads as they try to process the message. Listening can be complicated at times.
Thus, Five Minute Families must choose to intentionally listen to one another to make sure relationships strengthen, especially during this potentially troubling time. Here are five suggestions to get you started.
- Be attentive. Make eye contact and lovingly ask your child or spouse to do the same. Press pause and put down your device. Parents, this starts with you. Set the example. If it has not been a habit to have each person look up from their devices when speaking to one another, remember to be gentle and offer kind reminders that each person needs to do this.
- Be aware of noises. Literal noises such as fans and music can cause your message to be interrupted. Figurative noises such as physical pain or distractions will interrupt your message, too.
- Be aware of your nonverbal cues. These include facial expressions and gestures. One of the biggest nonverbal cues is your tone of voice, including pitch and volume. “I love you” (said sweetly and sincerely) is much different than “I love you.” (said sarcastically and loudly)
- Practice “What I heard you say is…” Our oldest – who is home missing his senior year at university – helped me illustrate the point to our younger sons. I asked him to make a statement about anything that came to mind. He said, “Turkey Perky Jerky is the best jerky out there.” I responded, “Oh, so what I hear you saying is that you don’t like the jerky I make.” In a regular scenario, we each make statements of opinion all the time. Other people’s random statements impact us greatly at times. Without practicing “what I heard you say is…” statements, I could have responded, “Oh. Ok.” And then chosen to never make jerky again because “hey, why bother. He obviously doesn’t like the kind I make.” Active listening gives us insight into what we are thinking others are saying, and let’s them correct any mis-messaging.
- Finally, realize that you do not have to fully understand or agree with your loved one to fully listen to them. Listening is not agreement; listening is an act of love. Listening places others before yourself.
Listen now to James 1:19 – “My Dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
Thank you for joining us today. If you would like to learn more about listening and see a visual illustration, please check out our blog at clearviewretreat.org. We pray that God will give you the Spirit of wisdom that you may know the hope of His calling, the richness of His glory, and the infinite greatness of His power. God bless!
~Originally aired on WECO 95.5 fm/940 am Tues, March 31, 2020~