Bonnie Kiser, MS, LMFT
How Are Your Communication Skills?
Does it feel like your kids aren't listening to you or talking to you?  
Are you and your spouse or significant other arguing more or too much?
Are you having any conflicts at work due to mixed messages? 
Are you having any difficulties with any of your friends due to misunderstandings?
Misunderstandings, mixed messages, arguments, and limited conversations can all be improved by your adoption of two basic formats and three communication techniques.  Sound easy?  Well, it is.  The first format is to use "I" messages.  The techniques are Active Listening, Validating Feelings or Thoughts, and Empathizing. 
Active Listening:  "I heard you say _________.  Did I hear it right?"
    Feelings:  "I can understand that you feel _________,"
    Thoughts: "That makes sense because _________."
Empathizing:  "That must make you feel ____________."
When you use messages like these above, you give the unspoken message that the other person has value to you.  
The second format is to use the "Gift of Love."  In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 4-7, Paul wrote, "Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude.  Love isn't selfish or quick tempered.  It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do.  Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.  Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.  Love never fails!"  What does your Agape (Christ-like) Love Meter show?  On a scale of 1 to 5, how well do you give love?

(Circle the one that fits you in your gift of
agape love to others, your family.)
1=poor, 2=not too good, 3=sometimes, 4=usually, 5=always

Patient: I am slow to get angry with the ones I love. I don't yell or lose my temper. 1 2 3 4 5
Kind: I am thoughtful, generous in my praise, always looking for ways to uplift others. 1 2 3 4 5
Not Jealous: I don't pout or pick flaws. 1 2 3 4 5
Not Boastful: I don't hog the conversation or exaggerate the facts to make an impression. 1 2 3 4 5
Not Rude: I'm not cruel, crude, or cutting, but am polite, courteous, and complimentary. 1 2 3 4 5
Not Selfish: I don't make others fit into my mold or insist that my way is always right. 1 2 3 4 5
Not Quick-Tempered: I'm not touchy, cranky, defensive, brittle, or supersensitive. 1 2 3 4 5

When you have finished, ask yourself if those with whom you are having those misunderstandings, mixed messages, arguments, and limited conversations would rate you on the Agape Love Meter the same.  Then, practice improving the ratings and using 'I' messages.

I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.

Michael J. Fox
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Copyright ©2007 Bonnie Kiser, MS, LFMT.  All rights reserved.