Communication takes more listening, not talking

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]

From: (

Oklahoman columnist Charlotte Lankard writes about keys to communication.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD For The Oklahoman Modified: June 15, 2015 at 10:16 pm •  Published: June 16, 2015

“We need to learn how to communicate” is typically a  couple’s request when seeking counseling. It soon becomes clear what they really need is not more talking, but more listening. The communication has broken down because partners have been arguing about what the other is saying and not listening to understand.  

Everyone’s communication skills can be improved, but if couple’s counseling is not on your to-do list, take a look at a gem of a little booklet by mediator Doyle Barnett titled “20 Communication Tips for Couples:  a 30-Minute Guide to a Better Relationship” (New World Library).  He lists 20 tips and makes brief comments about  each one.

To give you a glimpse of how he thinks: He believes friendship should come first before a love relationship. He admonishes couples to not bring up important issues during rushed or stressful times of the day, and don’t use arguments and drama as a means to connect or get attention.

Barnett says if you really want to communicate it is important to use your mate as a sounding board, not a dart board, and to say precisely what you mean. I have discovered often what a person wants is simply to know he or she has been heard or understood. Whether or not you agree is not the point.    

“Defensiveness arises from insecurity and distracts us from the real issue, and no one but yourself is responsible for how you feel. When you react to your mate and he or she reacts to your reaction, you both lose touch with your initial intentions,” Barnett said.

Barnett believes it helps to make requests, not demands, and to be 100 percent honest 100 percent of the time — even when you know it is something  your partner probably will not like nor agree with — because it maintains trust.  

If you are intrigued, this little booklet may be the best $8.95 you’ve ever spent.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]