Are your listening skills like the telephone game?
Ever heard someone say they don’t communicate very well?
What they are really saying is they don’t want to communicate very well.
I have been guilty of thinking that about myself and others.
Communication is an important part of all relationships.
Most of us have no idea how to communicate without blame, frustration, defensiveness or justification.
We like to blame our lack of communication on other people. I know I like to blame my husband for it. But really, I have a lot of work to do.
You see, there is a difference in what people say and what they are trying to say.
There is also a difference in what you hear and what you make it mean.
It is so easy to “miscommunicate” and “misunderstand”.
Its like a good old fashioned game of telephone. Do you remember? Someones starts by saying something and then you pass it alone until the last person says what they heard. Its usually way off!
Telephone game example in my life:
My husband can say he is going to go to lunch with someone and I make that mean, “he doesn’t want to go to lunch with me.” That was not his intent at all. I am upset by his simple statement and he can not figure out, for the life of him, why that would make me upset.
I think he should just know that he hurt my feelings and should tell me how much he loves to be with me and on and on. But once again, he said nothing that he thinks would hurt. And in fact, he didn’t. My thought about it (what I made it mean) is what hurt.
Our brains are so crazy.
Next time you find yourself feeling frustrated by your perceived lack of communication in your relationship ask yourself some questions:
- What did they say? Don’t summarize. It needs to be an exact quote.
- What did they mean to say? You may even clarify and ask if that is what they meant to say.
- What did you hear? Clarification is important here as well
- What did you make it mean? This will require you to ask some questions of yourself. Ask why it is hurting you. Keep asking why until you get to the bottom of what you made it mean.
Its time to stop playing the telephoned game and really listen and understand.