Miscommunication? I know…I know…no way it was your fault. The speaker—your husband or wife—messed up the message. He mumbled his words. She rambled on and on. It was his fault…it was her fault.
Not so fast, Captain of Communication! It is possible that the message got muddled somewhere between the speaker’s lips and your ears. I’m just saying…it’s possible. In fact, there are several things that could have confused the words as they were in route. Researchers call these “Listening Filters.” Here are six filters and how to deal with them.
- Inattention: The failure to listen closely.
Inattention may be caused by external factors, such as children playing or noise from the television. It can also be caused by internal factors, such as being tired, preoccupied with a pressing issue, or bored.
Listening requires effort. Find a time when you can focus. Turn off the television. Put the kids to bed. Don’t enter into deep communication when you are exhausted or under pressure. Plan a focused time to talk (and listen).
- Mood: The state of mind, feeling, or spirit.
We listen more effectively when we are in good mood. A bad or grumpy or argumentative mood turns communication south quickly.
When the listener (or speaker) is in a bad mood, communication should be put on hold for a time. It’s not going to end well.
- Expectation: To presume something will occur or appear.
The listener tends to hear and understand what he/she expect to hear and understand. This filter causes the listener to begin interpreting the message before it is complete.
Don’t determine what your spouse is going to say before it is said. That’s not fair. Remember, communication is the verbal delivery of the heart. Give them the respect to hear their heart.
- Style: The manner of mode of expression
There are different styles of communicating a message. Shocker, right? Some people are very expressive. Others are more reserved. Some speak with rapid fire. Others speak slow and deliberately. When the speaker is communicating in a style that is different from yours, you have a harder time understanding the message.
But…this is something we have to deal with. Respect the different communication style of your spouse.
- Self-Protection: Putting up a defense.
If you have hurt me with your words before, I am likely to put up “listening shield” to guard myself from the possible pain, discouragement, and/or disappointment. Reckless words pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18). You might have stabbed me once, but I am not going to let it happen again.
This filter has a history, and histories are hard to overcome. I will offer you a Speaker-Listener technique in a future blog that will help.
- Memory: Recollection of the past.
Some of the biggest arguments are about what was said (or what a person thought was said) in the past. After all, we have perfect memories, right? J
When there is confusion about past communication, four things should be done.
- Accept the fact that neither your memory nor your partner’s memory is perfect.
- Accept the fact that you may not have communicated clearly.
- Accept the fact that other filters may have blurred the reception of the message.
Clear up the confusion with fresh communication and move on.