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Communication: Key to Effective Relationships Part I

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."1

"Hey, Dad, what do you think of that?" asked one of my sons on one occasion when I was driving him to school.

"What do I think of what?" I asked as I had no idea what he was talking about.

"That ad on the radio," he replied rather surprised.

The radio was at a reasonable volume but I didn't hear a word the advertiser said. Why? It's because we all have what communicators call a mental filter system. In other words we have a tendency to hear only what we want to hear and filter (or block) out everything else. This is called "selective attention."

This is only one reason why relationships can be so difficult … too often we don't listen to what the other person is saying and hear only what we want to hear. This can leave partners very frustrated. "I said such and such," one says and the other replies, "No, you didn't." "Yes, I did." "No you didn't." And the self-defeating cycle continues.

Not only do we have selective attention, we also have selective exposure in that we mostly expose ourselves only to those things we want to see and hear. Like the wife who leaves the book, Seven Ways to Fulfill Your Wife's Needs, on the TV hoping her husband will read it! Chances are he won't see it, let alone pick it up and read it.

To make matters worse, another filter we use is selective perception which means that we perceive or see things the way we want to see them—often based on our needs, interests, wants, or self-concept. For instance, the man dying of thirst in the desert sees mirages of desert springs. Or if I have a poor self-image and you give me a compliment, I will think you are lying or wanting something.

To be concluded …

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be always truthful, not only with you, but also with myself and others, and always speak and communicate the truth in love. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Ephesians 4:15 (NIV).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.