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120/444 Healing from Infidelity: Expressing Criticism
122/444 Healing from Infidelity: Betrayal and Anger intro

121/444 Healing from Infidelity: Speaker/Listener

We're going to look at the Speaker/Listener technique from Scott Stanley in A Lasting Promise. Ann and I find this really helps us when things are tense. We spent time learning it, practicing it and adapting it to our style. When we feel smoke coming out of our ears now we reflexively fall into it. 

Speaker/Listener Technique – Structure of the Skill

 19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20

I love these verses in James. They truly are countercultural today. You don't get on TV speaking slow. But you do have good conversations by being willing to listen more than you want to be heard. 

Here are the rules for the speaker.

Speak for yourself--don't mind read which means you assume you know what your spouse is thinking or feeling.

Use I statements, not ‘you make me feel’.

Share your thoughts, your feelings and your concerns. 

Don’t go on and on and on and on…

Talk in small chunks, no more than 2-3 sentences at a time. This can be difficult for some folks whose preamble is 3-4 sentences. It really requires you to FOCUS. Stay on one subject at a time.

When you are done pause and let the listener respond. 

After the paraphrase let the listener know if he or she was accurate. 

Remember, your goal is to help them understand you, your feelings, and your point of view, not to get them to agree!

Here are the rules for the listener.

Paraphrase what you hear.

Your goal is to show you are listening and to say what you heard without any interpretations.  People like to be heard.

Don’t ‘steal the floor with your face’.  This is when the tone doesn’t match the words, sarcasm, rolling eyes, etc.

Don’t rebut.  Focus on what the speaker is saying.

Even if you disagree, do not offer your own opinions or thoughts.  You MUST edit out your own thoughts and comments and concentrate on being a good listener.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? ~James 4:1

Quarrels often start from the desire to be right, to defend our own actions.

You can only ask questions designed to help you better understand or clarify what the speaker is saying.

This is a means to validate your partner.  Remember, validation DOES NOT mean agreement. You can validate his or her perspective without agreeing. 

Rules for Both

The speaker has the floor

The speaker keeps the floor while the listener paraphrases.

Share the floor. In the beginning it may be helpful to share after 2-3 times speaking instead of talking through everything that comes to mind with a subject.  This gives both partners a chance to speak, to listen and to feel heard. It also will build confidence in the skill. 

Be sure and take a TIME OUT if necessary. 

14The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts. Proverbs 17:14 (MSG)

 When should you use a Time Out?

A Time Out should be used when the the danger signs appear: if escalation is occurring, if there is silence and avoidance, if you are spinning your wheels, if you are not understanding one another, and/or suspect filters.

Rules for Time Out

Either can call a Time Out at any time.

Agree to respect that this is a cue that things are not going right.

Put the issue aside for the time being, but it MUST be rescheduled

The one who calls the Time Out takes responsibility for bringing the issue back up within a reasonable time frame.  We recommend within 24 hours, could be much shorter such as a 20 minute walk around the block.

Returning to the conversation within 24 hours counteracts Time Outs being used as avoidance.

After the Time Out, shift into a safer method of communicating, i.e. Speaker/Listener

Don’t problem solve, you are only discussing feelings at this point. Be sure all feelings and perspectives are on the table before problem solving. Premature problem solving leads to going round and round and round with a problem over time. 

80/20…only 20% of problems need actual solving, most of the time we just need to be heard.

Your goal is to understand and show you respect each others’ thoughts and opinions, not agreement.

Listen well and hear well.

80/20…only 20% of problems need actual solving, most of the time we just need to be heard.

Be curious about one other, be intentional about your conversations, be for one another.