The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Communication skills I am working on

Simple stuff that I need to learn. It might resonate with others as well. I got these tips from here:

1…If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen to yourself as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say, the questions you are going to ask, etc. You filter everything you hear through your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up. And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating. Do any of the following sound familiar?

“Oh, I know just how you feel. I felt the same way.” “I had that same thing happen to me.” “Let me tell you what I did in a similar situation.”

Because you so often listen autobiographically, you tend to respond in one of four ways:
Evaluating: You judge and then either agree or disagree.
Probing: You ask questions from your own frame of reference.
Advising: You give counsel, advice, and solutions to problems.
Interpreting: You analyze others’ motives and behaviors based on your own experiences.

  1. Valuing differences is what really drives synergy. Do you truly value the mental, emotional, and psychological differences among people? Or do you wish everyone would just agree with you so you could all get along? Many people mistake uniformity for unity; sameness for oneness. One word–boring! Differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses. They add zest to life.

I am SO guilty of 'listening autobiographically.

Hi Dave,

This really hit home for me, unfortunately. :blush: I think “listening autobiographically” may be especially common with men but would wonder what the women here think? This is a very nice reminder for me to avoid these tendencies…

I find this is true for me too, Dave. It’s so easy to forget there’s a real person sitting in a real apartment or flat or coffee shop or living room or etc, whom it’s very easy to hurt with stuff I haven’t quite thought through.

And if something the poster (to whom I’m responding) says, seems to threaten my dearly held views, it’s really hard to force myself to read all the way through before reacting. If it seems really bad, I try to wait for the next day and then read when I’ve cooled off a little. Often I find I actually agree with them. It was just something in the first few sentences that set me off and prevented me from understanding what they were trying to say. Of course sometimes I still disagree, but by then I’m able to read and respond intelligently (if I have it in me!) instead of just reacting in fight or flight mode. Thanks for a great post. Very helpful to me, and hopefully to others as well. :slight_smile:

Love, Cindy

I got the following from: … 001057544/
I edited slightly to keep it brief.
In reviewing some of the really unproductive arguments I’ve seen or alas, been in on the Forum, one or more of these skills would have left the issues much clearer, respect would have been shown, friendly agreements to disagree could have been reached, and outsiders would have been drawn in rather than fleeing, wailing, into the outer darkness. :wink:

Keep these in mind at your next impasse; they might help you avoid an unproductive argument. :bulb:

  1. Pick your battles. (We) do not have to address every injustice or irritation that comes along,

  2. Understand the stakes. Even if you think that you know the other person’s issues, it can’t hurt to pose a direct question. Ask “ ‘What’s your real concern here?’

  3. Wait until you’re calm. When emotions run high, disagreements can turn personal, and that’s rarely productive. Recognize when emotions are charged, and don’t have the conversation until you have a cool head.

  4. Be respectful. If someone thinks you’re listening thoughtfully, she is more likely to respond in kind. An empathetic phrase, such as “I understand how you feel,” can go a long way.

  5. Speak for yourself. Rather than criticizing the other person, stick to expressing your own feelings and actions

  6. Don’t interrogate. Try not to go on a lawyerlike attack with a litany of yes-or-no questions. This tack is aggressive, puts the other person on the defensive, and can belittle her.

  7. State the facts. If you have them, use them. Facts give opinions and feelings a lot more credibility.

  8. Speak to common interests. Keep the common goal and good in mind. Remember: If an argument turns nasty, nobody wins. Tell the person how much she means to you and how much you value her opinion.

  9. Aim to clear the air rather than win. In many instances, the disagreement will end in détente. Don’t try to win the argument; it’s more important to focus on understanding why the other person thinks differently than you do.

  10. Consider compromise. It doesn’t get you exactly what you want, but it can be an effective way for people to overcome a disagreement and move forward. Remember: A compromise doesn’t have to be equal to be acceptable. However, it is important for you to understand what you’re both giving up and to be comfortable with that equation. "

This is just a bump, because I hit a ‘bump’ today. I am re-reading the above right now. :wink:

Nope! Nope! Nope! I’m not listening!

Here is a good link to understanding some of our behavior and that of others. Sure it’s pop psychology, but in reading through it I found some jewels.
The top 100 personality disorders. … raits.html

A few off the top of the list:
6. Baiting - A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.
7. Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing - This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.
15. Confirmation Bias - The tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.

Each of the 100 is clickable for further explanation. A good resource for those of us striving for better communication skills.

LOL. I claim denial!

Hey - you said you were not listening!! :smiley:

Ach…you know we all have our foibles. It’s good to know them. I have maybe 90 out of the top 100…

That’s me too!!!

Geez! That is a totally creepy list and I’m only to #40. :confused: But I’ve known people like some of those and have personally been like others of them. Good check list if only to raise personal awareness of things to avoid doing to others and having done to you.

I’m going back to the OP and start reading again. I think I need to read it every day as a devotional. Maybe light a little incense, sip some good hot green tea while sitting on my zafu and zabuton and listen to space music. Or, just read it. :wink:


Talk about communication errors - my use of ‘wanker’ was meant to be good-natured ribbing. I’m a Yank (pun intended), but have since learned that ‘over there’ it is a bad thing. I looked it up this morning and found this:

Mary Cresswell, an American etymologist, describes ‘wanker’ as “somewhat more offensive in British use than Americans typically realize”.[13] The word was used twice to comic effect in the Simpsons episode “Trash of the Titans”, which caused no offence to American audiences, but prompted complaints on occasions when the episode was broadcast unedited in the United Kingdom.[14]

So - communication 101 - be sure to know what an unfamiliar word means to the person you are writing to.

Also - I was in a rush when I titled a thread “things that don’t matter” when I meant 'things that I don’t think are necessary". But how would anyone know what I ‘meant’ unless I used the words to convey it? Turns out that people are not mind-readers.

This falls under the 'note to self: THINK before you write" category, for me.

An illustration from John MacKay, paraphrased:
A spanish house, with a balcony that overlooks a traveled road.
People in balcony, and travelers below.
The two groups can talk to one another. The balcony people (bp) can talk about how the road can exist at all; what might be observable from the road, etc - they are onlookers. The road people (rp) have their theoretical angle as well, but are overwhelmingly concerned about which way to go, how to deal with obstacles, helping those who trip - not theoretical, but practical - they are actually walking the road and dealing with the obstacles and questions that go along with that walk.

The problem of evil: BP will ask how evil can be, since God is sovereign and good; RP are concerned with how to overcome evil with good.

We could flesh this out some, but what I’m getting out of it, for purposes of this thread, is to try to understand the question being asked: is it from the balcony, or from the road? And how I answer: balcony person or road person?
I’m always in one or the other places, and the person I’m addressing may be in the other place; I really need to listen to see where my fellow-traveler (or balconeer) is coming from. I’m not always successful.

I like it, Dave! :smiley:
On the current POE thread, I feel like I was walking along the ‘road’ and overheard the conversation on the balcony. I gave a quick answer and continued walking, but was invited up by the BP to discuss with them. I think anytime the term ‘theodicy’ comes up in a conversation, it’s coming from the balcony. When you’re on the road, you have no truck with ‘theodicy’. :wink:

I see what you’re saying.
I think we have our times in each place, as a bp or a rp. I think our ‘calling’ is to be there on the road, and also to take some refreshing time up in the balcony, just to rest up and get a perspective, maybe come up with some theodicy thinking. (I love theodicies)

I’m reminded of the Road the Nine traveled in LOTR. They are on that road most of the time, but then - Rivendell. The rigors of the Road lay behind and in front - but for a short time there is rest, and advice to be given and taken, beauty to be appreciated, enemies at bay, and the larger Tale to be revealed and reveled int.

Excellent point, Dave. Thinking about it a bit, this forum itself is pretty much a ‘balcony’. Sure, some ‘road work’ gets done, but it’s pretty much hanging out with the BP most of the time. It can be a temptation to linger at Rivendell when our duty at the time lies ‘on the Road’ fighting enemies as well as doing the more mundane things needed to keep the Nine alive and moving along on their mission (or the Six in my case) :wink: