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Is Anyone Listening?

Not everyone sees the need for good communication skills.

One man and wife often handled disputes with a war of silence, which the wife usually broke. After an argument, it was time to go to bed, and neither was speaking to the other. This time the man was concerned. He needed to wake up at 4:30 the next morning to catch an important flight; and being a very heavy sleeper, he normally relied on his wife to wake him. He was too stubborn to break the silence, so he wrote on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 4:30 am - I have to catch a flight.” He put the note on his wife’s pillow while she was in the bathroom, turned over, and went to sleep.

The man awoke the next morning at 8:00. Enraged, he looked for his wife and spotted a hand-written note on his pillow – “It’s 4:30 - get up.”


Phones have two ends: a transmitter and a receiver. It doesn’t matter what you say over your transmitter if the other person’s receiver isn’t working.

Lateral communication is an exchange of ideas between people who respect one another’s opinions. Lateral communication builds relationships; a lack of it builds ramparts.

Our relationships determine how we communicate. If people know we care about them, they will be more willing to listen, will not be easily offended, and will feel “safe” enough to share freely. Relationships grow when we respect the personhood of others, let ourselves be vulnerable, and use skillful communication techniques.

Listening skills are important in developing relationships too. Good salespeople let customers do 70% of the talking. This helps a salesperson learn the views and needs of customers. It also helps customers sell themselves. Customers are much happier when they choose a purchase with information provided by a salesperson. When a salesperson uses "hard sell" methods, customers often turn defensive.

This applies to all communication. Telling people what we think usually doesn’t “sell” them on our agenda. "I like to talk with people who express my thoughts clearly" (author unknown).

I have to examine my motives constantly. What is my agenda? What am I hoping to gain? Am I seeking personal benefits at the expense of others? Self-absorption and self-centeredness have always impeded communication and hindered healthy relationships.

When we value relationships more than personal gain, love will motivate us to listen and speak in a way that engages our audience.


No matter how hard we try, sometimes communication is still difficult.

A judge interviewing a lady in divorce court asked, “What are the grounds for your divorce?”

“About four acres and a nice little home in the middle.”

“I mean what is the foundation of this case?”

“Well, I think it’s made of cement blocks and mortar.”

Taking a different approach, the judge asked, “What are your relations like?”

“I have an aunt and uncle living here in town.”

“Ma’am, does your husband ever beat you up?”

“Yes, about twice a week he gets up earlier than I do.”

His tone showing frustration, the judge asked, “Lady, why do you want a divorce?”

“Oh, I don’t want a divorce,” she replied. “My husband does. He says we don’t communicate well.”
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