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There are five basic levels of communication. As we discuss these levels, mentally think about the level of conversation you have most of the time with your spouse, your children, your employer, and with God.
  • Cliche level. A conversation at this level goes something like this. "Hi, how are you? The weather is fine today, isn't it?"
  • Factual level. Conversing on this level of communication is like quoting statistics or reporting the five o'clock news! "I went to work today. I came home. I bought a gallon of milk."

    A great deal of conversation transpires on this level, particularly among men. Men tend to think in terms of headlines, while women think more in terms of the fine print. They want all the details!
  • Personal judgment level. For example, "I think we ought to send our children (or grandchildren) to Christian school." You're expressing your own judgment about something.

    If a person feels rejected at this level of communication, many times he'll withdraw and go back up to the second or even the first level.
  • Emotional/feeling level. On this level, you begin to express your feelings and emotions. For example, "You were insensitive when you said that to me."

    It's important to get to this level of communication. You become vulnerable at this level, particularly if you have a feeling of insecurity. If someone touches your area of insecurity of weakness, then you'll react.

    Sometimes we forget that a soft answer turns away wrath. (Pr. 15:1.) This is why it's so important to have a relationship with God and have His Word working in your heart. Then when these situations occur, you won't blow up. (Remember in your communication to attack the problem and not the person.)
  • Total openness and transparency level. The goal in marriage and family relationships is to move into this level of communication where you can share completely and freely about anything and everything.

    At this level, there are no areas that you have to hide or cover up, no areas where you are limited or where you feel there's a touchy subject you can't talk about.
Genesis 2:24-25 relates to total honesty and transparency in communication in marriage:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
(Gen. 2:24-25)
In other words, there was nothing hidden. In communication, you must have transparency with nothing hidden, an openness with each other to know what the other person is thinking or feeling.

You can avoid challenges in a marriage as you learn how to communicate. Women seem to talk more freely than men, and for this reason, women need to work at being better listeners.

There are reasons why people either won't talk or are hesitant to talk. Sometimes they're afraid people will reject what they have to say, put them down, or embarrass or criticize them.

That's the way it is in some relationships. One spouse won't talk, because any time they say something, the other person puts them down with, "You're so dumb."

Or they're out in a crowd and their mate makes them the butt of a joke. The man tells a joke about his wife, or the wife tells a joke about her husband. After a while, that person clams up and won't talk. We have to break through these barriers and fears.

Men sometimes have difficulty in putting into words what they really want to say, although women sometimes have a challenge in verbalizing their thoughts, too.

There may have been something in your family while you were growing up that kept you from communicating at the fifth level. My wife's family communicated on this level of total openness and transparency with one another.

We didn't have that same freedom in my home. Since that time, it has been developed in our family members, but I had to learn to break through the fear of communicating what was really on my heart.

Source: Building Stronger Marriages and Families by Billy Joe Daugherty
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Billy Joe Daugherty
Web site: Victory Christian Center
Billy Joe Daugherty was founder and pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was also the founder of Victory Christian School, Victory Bible Institute and Victory World Missions Training Center.

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