• Steve

Living Well While Sheltering in Place

Facebook Live Event

March 30, 2020

Living well includes four dimensions: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health.

And Jesus grew in wisdom [psychological] and stature [physical], and in favor with God [spiritual] and favor with man [social]. (Luke 2:52)

Tonight’s Topic: How to Be a Great Listener (Adapted from Gottman Marriage Training)

“To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13; cf. Jesus’ life)

Building love and trust involves really listening to our friends / family, which is not as easy as it sounds. Asking the right questions, empathizing, and making someone feel understood are skills that can dramatically increase intimacy in any relationship.

The goal of the following exercise is to discuss a topic in a manner where you both feel understood by each other.


Before you can engage in persuasion, you each have to listen well to your friend’s position to their satisfaction. For instance, many of us may have different ideas about how to best respond to the coronavirus politically or individually. It’s so important to listen to friends extensively about their position, to ask questions, and to summarize and validate their position.

The Assumption of Similarity

If you find yourself attributing a positive trait to yourself, try to see some of that trait in your friend / family. If you find yourself attributing a negative trait to your friend / family, try to see some of that trait in yourself as well.

Rules for the Speaker

Your task is to honestly talk about your feelings and beliefs about your position on this issue. Do not argue for or try to persuade the other of your point of view; just explain how you see things. Tell them your thoughts and feelings about your position on this issue.

* No blaming, criticism, or contempt.

* No “You” statements. Use “I” statements about a specific situation.

* Talk about your feelings.

* State a positive need gently. Within every complaint there is a longing. When that longing is expressed, a recipe for how to fulfill it may emerge.

Rules for the Listener

Below are four steps to help you listen to your friends / family and gain understanding of their position. Remember, do not argue for your point of view. Your task is to listen and ask questions.

Step 1: Prepare Yourself

* Postpone your own agenda.

* Tune into their world.

* Hear their pain, even if you don’t agree with the details.

* Try to see their world from their perspective, not your own.

Step 2: Attune

That means it’s your job as a listener to be “present” with your friend / family. Do not minimize your their feelings. Hear the Speaker’s feelings and be present with them. Your goal is just to understand.


* Ask open-ended questions (i.e. questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no). These open the heart.

* Ask questions for clarification and elaboration that deepen your understanding of your their needs, such as “Tell me the story of that,” “What do your values tell you about this?” and, “How does this situation affect you?”


* Be critical, judgmental, or defensive

* Minimize their feelings

* Engage in put downs or approach the discussion from a place of superiority.

Step 3: Summarize and Reflect Back What Your Hear

A big part of listening is witnessing and being present for your friends / family so that they don’t feel so alone. A powerful way to “be there” for your friends / family is to identify and reflect back their feelings, and to restate what you heard them say using your own words. The goal is to be able to summarize the Speaker’s position to the Speaker’s satisfaction.

Step 4: Validate Your Partner; Communicate Understanding and Empathy

Validation doesn’t mean that you agree, but that you can understand even a part of your their experience. For example, you can validate and express empathy by saying something like, “It makes sense to me how you saw this and what your perceptions and needs were. I get it. I can see why this upset you.”

Ask your friend / family if she or he feels understood. If so, switch roles. If not, ask, “What do I need to know to understand your perspective better?” After summarizing and validating, ask your partner, “Did I get it?” and, “Is there anything else?”

Role Play: Steve and Kamala on household management