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Blocks To Listening

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“Can You Hear Me Now?”

Blocks To Listening

       “Can you hear me now?”  If you can’t hear or understand me, communication is impossible!

       Communication is the oil that lubricates the engine of relationships, without it everything grinds to a halt.

       Unresolved conflict, not conflict, acts like termites in a relationship.  Quietly, and imperceptibly, it can bring down great oaks!

       We are working on a series of messages entitled “Can You Hear Me Now?”  We are working on effective communication, active listening, and conflict resolution.  These skills can help us develop meaningful relationships, whether we believe in them or not.  We can no longer wait until our hearts get right.  Let’s take effective action, while we’re repenting and waiting on God.

(Listed are the Roman Numerals we’ve already covered.)





(How we communicate with people can often encourage or discourage people.  That is a responsibility that few people realize, much less accept.  Nevertheless, we can become aware of certain responses and their general impact in this regard.  Larry Crabb gives us a list of:)


       A.    Defensive or explanatory words.

Defensive or explanatory words are intended to protect you from a perceived attack.

B.    Apologies.

Quick apologies cut off conversation and block an opportunity for the problem to be expressed and understood.

C.    Attack/Cutting Remarks.

Humor in current times is often sarcastic, insulting, and critical.

D.    Corrections.

Another violation of encouragement involves telling someone that he is not feeling what he claims to feel.  The thoughts and behaviors accompanying the emotions may later require correction; often they do.  But emotions must be accepted as they are.

E.    Quick advice.

When someone shares a problem, he wants to be understood before listening to solutions.  Advice--even sound advice--can be heard as negative.

       These five strategies for discouragement are only some of the many ways it is possible to reject a person who shares a feeling.  We must attend to all violations of principles of slow, sensitive, and gentle speech.”[1]

       This concept is so important that Lawrence J. Crabb covers it again in his book, Marriage Builder.  This time lists discouraging responses under the heading:  How do people reject feelings?  Here is that list.

A.    Defend/explain.

“The reason I said that...”

“What I meant was...”

B.    Apologize.

“I’m really sorry that...”

“I shouldn’t have said that...”

C.    Attack.

“I admit what I did was wrong, but you...”

“Well, maybe you’re right, but what I can’t understand is why you”

D.    Advise.

“Maybe you should...”

“It seems to me that if you...”

E.    Disdain.

“I don’t really see why you feel...”

“Gee, honey, there’s no need to feel...”

F.    Correct.

“What I think you really mean is...”

“I don’t think that you feel...”

(If we are to achieve effective communication, we must become aware of:)


“We find that occasionally our words say one thing and our facial expression, posture, tone of voice-or silence-say something else.  Our message is then incongruent (sometimes called ‘a double message’).

       We don’t always know when we are sending incongruent messages.  Since much of our communication is done unconsciously, we are not fully aware of all aspects of how we communicate, i.e., posture, tone of voice, etc.  We don’t have a full picture of what our listener is hearing or seeing.  And sometimes we ourselves are not sure exactly what it is we’re trying to say.”[2]  So, Larry Crabb gives us some tips to improve our nonverbal communication.

       1.     S:    Squarely face (Not off center)

       2.     O:    Openly face (Not with tightly crosses legs and arms)

       3.     L:    Lean forward

       4.     E:    Eye contact

       5.     R:    Relax”[3]

(As I stated very early in this treatise, if we are going to achieve effective communication, one of the things that we must do is become aware of ineffective communication habits.  One such ineffective communication habit is wandering or not giving attention to the speaker.  There are a number of practices that keep us from doing this.  Let’s cover them under:)


(The following are blocks to attending or giving attention to the speaker.)

Ruling out the speaker.

“He’s of no interest to me.” “She has nothing to say, why listen anyway?”

Reaching a premature conclusion.

“I’ve heard enough to know where he’s going with this argument.  I’ve heard it before and it’s all wet.”

Reading in expectations.

“I know what you’re going to say, I can finish your sentence when you pause, I can read you like a book.”

Reading out threats.

“I know you didn’t mean that, you couldn’t have said it, you didn’t say it.”

Rambling or racing ahead.

“You trigger a whole flood of thoughts, and one idea leads to another.  I’ve left you; I’m now miles away.”

Rehearsing a response.

“I am preparing what I want to say.  I’m just waiting till you pause so I can break in....”

Reacting to trigger words.

“I didn’t hear a word you said after you called me a ‘kid.’  Goats have kids, have you no respect?”

Responding with evaluation.

“The way you say it is (a) clever, (b) creative, (c) crude, (d) contradictory, and I am more interested in the style or lack of it than in what you are actually saying.”

Rejecting the person or personality.

“You come on too strong.  I don’t like authoritarian personalities; I don’t need to listen further.”[4]

(Now is the Day of Salvation!  Come to Jesus, Now!)


Call to Discipleship


[1] Ibid, pp. 117-119.

[2] Winning Lifestyles, IV. Relationship Module, Performax Systems International, Inc., 1986, p. 4.

[3] Ibid, pp. 124,125.

[4] David Augsburger, Caring Enough To Hear And Be Heard, Regal Books, Ventura, California, 1982, p. 45.

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