Improving Communication

A research project was conducted in which about 240 counseling agencies across the country were asked to identify the primary problem that their counselors encountered. It was reported that almost 80 percent of the problems brought to the agencies concerning marriage and family life had to do with communication… [1]

 So, if communication is a problem for families, let’s look at it briefly.  What family therapists have discovered is it’s not so much that communication is difficult in the family today, as that it’s LACKING. We don’t do enough of it.

Another common problem is that communication can shallow or superficial.  Communication among our families ideally should get to the feeling level.  The feeling level is where connection happens.

Here are the five levels of communication:

1. Facts — It’s 80 degrees and sunny today.”

2. Events — “The Spurs played a great game yesterday.” A little more stimulating, but nothing deep is really exchanged between us.

3. People — “Susie had a toothache.” John dislikes Aggies.” “Bill got a new job.” These are much more engaging, but be careful not to gossip.

4. Ideas — “I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and Savior of the world.” Say that to someone, and suddenly you’re sharing some very stimulating material. The conversation can go deep or it can get heated, but ideas are exchanged and we share much more of ourselves in it.

5. Feelings — “I’m hurt today.” “I’m tired.” “I’m happy, bored, jealous, excited.”  This is where we live. This is where it gets deep.

As I read through the gospels about I see that Jesus was not only a good speaker; He was a great question-asker. In John 1, instead of focusing on Himself, the Bible says He turned to the men following Him and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:37)

This might seem like an obvious question, but how often do we ask those we love, “What do you want?”

Think through some of the best conversations you’ve ever had, where you felt really connected to and known by the person you were talking with. I’m guessing the reason the conversation went well and went deep is because they asked good questions.   A good use of questions will get down to the feeling level.

Here are some good questions: 

1.   How are you (really)?

2.   What was your high point of the day? What was your low point?

3.   What was your strongest feeling today?

4.   What’s your favorite ___________? (color, place, memory, vacation, sport, hobby, movie, country, time of day, etc.)

5.   How did that feel?

6.   Tell me more about that.

7.   What would you like to do if time and money were no objects?

8.   Tell me about your life at ____ years old.

9.   List three people who have influenced you significantly.

10. What is God teaching you these days?

11. What are you reading in the Bible?

12. What are you reading, besides the Bible?

13. What would you like to talk about right now?

14. If I could do something to make you happy, what would it be?

15. Which means the most to you: when I do something nice for you, say something nice to you, give something nice to you, give you a nice experience, or touch you?

16. What skill or discipline would you like to master?

17. What’s on your “bucket list”?

18. Which of your ancestors would you like to meet?

19. What one fear would you like to conquer?

20. If God would grant you one wish, what would it be?

21. How can I pray for you?

22. What kind of business would you like to start?

23. What one thing would you like to change about yourself?

24. If you could give God one worry or concern, what would it be?

25. What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing?

Deep inside we all want to know and be known by those we love. With a little effort and creativity, we can achieve both.


Source:  Adapted from To Save a Family by Hal Seed

[1] Jay Kesler, ed., Parents and Children (Victor Books, 1987), p. 57.

About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
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