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Knowing Yourself and Listening

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“Can You Hear Me Now?”

Knowing Yourself and Listening

       Thank you for allowing us to “Stand in the Gap!” for the Saints in Springfield, Ohio, at St. John Missionary Baptist Church’s Spiritual Renewal week!

       “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.)




(We are picking up where we left off.)


It’s important that you know yourself to communicate properly.  The needs and values models of motivation are very important in understanding the impact of communication.  Performax’s Pamphlet entitled, “Winning Lifestyles,” states:  “When we’re not fully aware of what’s going on within ourselves, we can hardly expect others to know.  Honest, open communication requires us to be clear and assertive about what it is we need or want from someone so that our messages will be clearly received and understood.  Self-awareness is an important factor in how we relate to others.  We can only know and accept others to the degree in which we know and accept ourselves.  And increasing self-awareness of our wants and needs enables us to be more conscious, more present to other’s wants and needs.”[1]

       “With the knowledge of ‘DiSC’ and ‘TICS’ we can better understand and appreciate both ourselves and others, including the reality of differences among people.  This type of learning moves us in the direction of acceptance of ourselves and others.  This is a mind set which focuses on a higher esteeming of people.”[2]  I have developed three A’s to esteeming people.  They are:

1.     A -   Acknowledge that other people are different from us.

2.     A -   Accept the fact that other people are different from us.

“Acceptance of who we (and others) are is essential to our individual and collective well-being.”[3]

3.     A -   Appreciate others for their differences.

It is very difficult for people to accept and appreciate others who are different from themselves.  The reason:  they do not readily comprehend adjacent value systems of “thoughts they typically don’t think about.”

       Let me explain:  If you are self-oriented, you cannot easily understand the Synthesizer point-of-view.  You’ll think they are weird.  Cognitively, you don’t understand the way they see people, world events, etc.  So, it is essentially a comprehension problem.[4]  But you should seek to understand and appreciate other points of view.

(Although communication is effective talking, it has more to do with active listening.  Many of us have had some kind of training is effective speaking, but not much in active listening, unless you have belonging to this church for a wile.  So, let’s begin to deal with the very important activity of listening.)


       “To listen accurately to self and other requires a clear recognition of the intimate yet separate relationship that exists between meanings and words.  This relationship can be clarified by frequently reminding oneself of the following:

1.     Meanings are in persons, not in words.  ‘Words don’t mean, people mean,’ as Lewis Carroll observes in the dialogue between Humpty-Dumpty and Alice.

2.     Meanings are not transmitted in oral communication, just oral and visual signals--sounds, words, pauses, tones, omissions, facial expressions, gestures, posture, even respiration and perspiration.

3.     Meanings which a listener attaches to the signals based on inferences, hunches, not on facts.  I have only an inkling of your meaning.  I make the best guess possible and check it out.

4.     The word is not the meaning just as the wrapper is not the chocolate; the word is not the object it names just as the photo is not the person; the word is not the experience expressed just as my story is only a small part of that moment of history.

5.     Communication is a meeting of meanings.  When your meanings meet my meanings across the bridge of words, and the overlap is sufficient to satisfy us both, then we have achieved co-meanings.

6.     My meanings will never perfectly match your meanings.  Even in an intimately shared, mutually appreciated, truly understood communication, our meanings are uniquely our own.

       In good communication the intent equals the impact.  Rare as this seems, it must still be the goal of every communication.  My intent, filtered by my expectations--emotions, needs, hopes, fears--gets put into words.  These words, filtered by your expectations--emotions, needs, hopes, fears--register an impact on you the listener.  When, after passing through these dual filters, the impact is still reasonably close to the original intent, clear communication is occurring.”

“To hear another I must make room within myself to admit the other’s words and meanings.  When I am filled with excitement or exhaustion I am not available to another.  Listening requires an opening of my inner world to receive another.  Making room within myself requires a series of steps, taken in part or (in effective listening) attempted as a whole.  The steps toward truly hearing another include:

(1)    willingness to give another my attention,

(2)    an openness to perceive the other’s views and values,

(3)    a readiness to suspend judgment or evaluation,

(4)    a patience to wait for the other’s own expression of his or her own thoughts and feelings,

(5)    a genuineness of empathy that seeks to take the other’s position for the moment, to see the world as the other sees it, and

(6)    a commitment to work toward a dialogue that enriches us both.

(Let’s touch on each step.)

Step #1:   A willingness to give another my attention.

This is the step of presence.  If I choose to be present with another, I am recognizing and admitting the other’s presence.  We are now available to each other.

       No communication can take place, until we first get together.  Busyness is one of the major enemies of most American marriages.  I suggest you pick a place and time to do some intimate sharing each week.  If you don’t schedule it, other things will crowd it out every week.

The authors of Executive E.Q., which is about emotional intelligence, have developed a wonderful formula to explain what they call “authentic presence.”

(A x C) – (U x E) = AP

(Attentiveness x Concern) – (Ulterior Motive x Entitlement) = Authentic Presence[5]

Attentiveness multiplied times concern for the other person is the positive side of “Authentic Presence.”  To have “authentic presence” we must be attentive to people and the situations that are around us.  In addition, we must have genuine concern for people.  When attentiveness is multiplied times concern, we have a positive measure of “authentic presence.”

But there are some things that can detract from “authentic presence.”  They are ulterior motive and entitlement.  When we have ulterior motives, this detracts from our “authentic presence.”  When we have an attitude of entitlement, this also detracts from “authentic presence.”  When ulterior motive is multiplied by entitlement, we have a measure of these things that detract from “authentic presence.”  When we subtract the negative measure from the positive measure, we are left with some measure of “authentic presence.”

I trust that it is easy for us to see that “authentic presence” cannot be easily accomplished without Grief £ RecoveryÒ work.

Step #2:   An openness to perceive the other’s views and values.

The second step is attention.  Opening one’s mind to give an evenly, hovering attention to the person, the situation, the message, the voice tone, the feeling tones, the whole self.

       This involves more than presence; this involves being “fully present.”  Trying to communicate when one or the other mate is distracted is futile.  The classic example is the wife trying to talk to her husband, while the football game is on.  He may be able to parrot what she has just said, but he’s not “fully present.”  Being fully present is a gift to everyone you interact with.

Step #3:   A readiness to suspend judgment or evaluation.

This is the step of authentic interest.  As I choose to enter the other’s world and to see it as he or she sees it, I am trying on the other’s perceptions to appreciate them and value them as having an integrity of their own, whether I agree with them or not.

       We spend most of our time thinking our own thoughts.  We spend very little time thinking other peoples thoughts.  Therefore, it is usually difficult for us to see another’s perception.  In fact, most people don’t know that they are even having that trouble.

       So, before you start defending your position.  See, if you can state what the other person is saying to his/her satisfaction.

       Ask questions!  Check out your understanding!

Step #4:   A patience to wait for the other’s own expression of his or her own thoughts and feelings.

This entails the suspension of judgment.  In valuing the integrity of another’s perspective I am not sacrificing my own, but suspending the application of my values and the expression of my differences until it is evident that I have truly understood.

       You know how we can’t wait until the other person is through talking, before we need to state our objection.  You know how we say, “But,” “Uh,” “Now,” etc.  We are afraid we’re not going to be heard or that we’re going to forget our point, as if stating our point will create understanding or solve the issue.

Step #5:   A genuineness of empathy that seeks to take the other’s position for the moment, to see the world as the other sees it.

This also requires patience.  Any attempt to hurry the other, any offer to complete the sentence, any generosity in supplying ideas or words to fill in temporary blanks, any tendency to embellish the other with insights of my own takes away from the full message presented.

       When I finish other people’s sentences, I demonstrate that I don’t have the time to wait for their thoughts or that I believe I know them better than they know themselves.

       We often practice sympathy and call it empathy.

·        American sympathy is relating to the speaker by feeling my own feelings.

In sympathy, I relate to your feelings, but the feelings that I am deeply feeling are my own.  So, the interaction is not really about your feelings, but about mine.  Therefore, Americans can often take the sharing away from you and begin to get caught up in their own pain.  They will say something like, “I know just how you feel, because when I lost my job and then talk on incessantly.”  In fact, they don’t know “just” how you feel; they know exactly how they felt!

·        Empathy, is relating to the speaker by feeling his/her feelings.

It is bracketing or suspending our own feelings to enter the world of the speaker and feel his or her feelings.  In do doing, you don’t lose your own feelings, but you set them aside to give full attention to the feelings of the one who is speaking.  You want to see the world through his/her own eyes.

In sympathy, you are dealing with a picture that has your frame and your painting.

       In empathy, you are dealing with a picture that has the speaker’s frame and the speaker’s painting.

Step #6:   A commitment to work toward a dialogue that enriches us both.

Finally, a commitment to work toward a mutual, reciprocal dialogue seeks to move the conversation toward an equal exchange of views and values.  In dialogue, listening achieves its most present, open, interested, accepting and trusting expression.

       The individuals in most couples are working towards a dialogue that personally enriches.  They are not interested in helping their mate achieve an enriching dialogue.  They don’t understand that if their mate isn’t enriched, they won’t be either, in the long run.

       This requires a commitment, particularly between the opposites that usually get married.  The commitment is one that will allow the different persons in a marriage to be complementary.  There is usually a long talker and a short talker.  The long talker must commit to talking shorter, in order facilitate an atmosphere in which the shorter talker will feel heard.  The short talker must commit to stay engaged and talk longer, in order to facilitate an atmosphere in which the long talker will feel heard.

       Each of these steps removes or reverses the most common obstacles to hearing others, obstacles created by the highly selective process we use in gathering information.  As these are reduced, then we can take new steps toward more effective listening.”

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


Call to Discipleship


[1] Performax.

[2] Michael J. O’Connor and Sandra J. Merwin, The Mysteries Of Motivation, “Why People Do The Things They Do,” Performax Systems International, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1988, pg. 41.

[3] Michael J. O’Connor and Sandra J. Merwin, The Mysteries Of Motivation, “Why People Do The Things They Do,” Performax Systems International, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1988, pg. 41.

[4] Michael J. O’Connor and Sandra J. Merwin, The Mysteries Of Motivation, “Why People Do The Things They Do, Performax Systems International, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1988, pg. 67.

[5] Robert K. Cooper and Ayman Sawaf, Executive EQ, A Pedigree Book Published by The Berkley Publishing Group, New York, New York, 1997, p. 69.

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