Can You Hear Me Now?

The well known Verizon commercial is a reference to the interference experienced by other networks compared to the clear signal Verizon customers are alleged to receive. In the arena of our own communications with spouses and others, this Verizon sales pitch seems an apt analogy for speaking and listening.

As listeners, can we put ourselves aside and listen to what the other is saying; listen with no agenda to contradict or prove myself right; listen with no agenda of (impatiently) biding my time until the other (finally) finishes; listen without at the same time formulating our own rejoinder; in effect, can we listen for the sake of listening. What a radical concept, and, as it turns out, what a gift to the person speaking – the gift of being heard.

As speakers, can we speak so that we authentically communicate what is on our minds and in our hearts; can we speak so that however passionate our voice the words do not blame but take full ownership of the thoughts and feelings spoken. There is a world of difference for both speaker listener between “I feel angry because….” and “you are an insensitive so and so.” The first is spoken with integrity and is much easier for the listener to hear; the second raises the hackles of the listener and puts them on the defensive.

Clear channels of communication – speaker and listener.

There is a well known and simple mode of communication for spouses and others, one that assures being heard and supports listening. When in an important conversation where there is emotional content, the speaker says what is up for them, stopping periodically for the listener to then repeat or summarize what has been said so far. If it is accurate, the speaker continues; if not, the speaker can restate what was not accurately heard. This mode of communication provides a clear channel for communication, one that assures the speaker of feeling heard and supports the listener in listening attentively. If implemented, the Verizon people would be proud.

As a Tucson divorce attorney and Tucson divorce mediation practitioner, it is not often difficult, and mores the pity, for me to observe at least one of the causes of frustration that couples feel with one another. Talking over the other person, interrupting, trying to be right in proving a point and looking bored or distracted when the other person is speaking all are factors that support communication static and hamper clarity and respect.
It is the rap that Verizon is trying to put on its competitors. And, too often in divorces all too true.

© Copyright - Peter D Axelrod