Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond - Lesson 14

Responsible Listening (Part 3/3)

In this lesson, you will learn about the barriers to good listening, such as heightened emotions, familiarity, and fear of change. You will explore the concept of the 600 word gap, which is the difference between listening capacity and speaking rate, and understand how focusing on the last thing said can improve communication. Finally, you will discover the importance of responsible listening, including clarifying generalities and both stated and unstated emotions in conversation.

Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Lesson 14
Watching Now
Responsible Listening (Part 3/3)

I. Lesson: Responsible Listening (Part 3/3)

A. Heightened Emotions

B. Familiarity

C. Fear of Change

II. The 600 Word Gap

A. Listening Capacity vs. Speaking Rate

B. Focusing on the Last Thing Said

III. Objectives in Responsible Listening

A. Clarify Generalities

B. Clarify Stated and Unstated Emotions

  • Learn about the crucial role of leadership in conflict resolution, explore the various types of conflicts in the church, and understand the importance of building a peacemaking culture to prevent and address conflicts effectively.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the growth and crisis of the global church, with a focus on Africa, and learn about the tragic Rwandan genocide. You will examine the historical background of these crises, the church's role in addressing them, and the need to move beyond the Gospel of sin management. Embracing the four-chapter gospel, you will understand the church's responsibility as a community of reconciled people, embodying God's reconciling work in the world.
  • You will gain insights into the gospel and its applicability to everyday life, as well as its impact on society, including bringing reconciliation and creating heaven on Earth. The discussion acknowledges the difficulties of living out the gospel in society and the tension between living in the world and living for the gospel.
  • In this lesson, you'll gain insight into the sparks that ignite conflict in the church, understand how conflicts can escalate, and discover the importance of developing peacemaking skills and fully embracing the gospel to foster unity and resolve conflicts.
  • You will learn about conflict culture in the church, which is an inherited culture for resolving conflict shaped by visible and invisible elements and assumptions and values that drive conditioned responses, and how recognizing and addressing it can lead to healthy conflict resolution.
  • This lesson explores how pastors and church leaders address people-pleasing cultures, examining the attitudes and actions of laissez-faire, controlling, and peacemaking leaders, and discussing the role of the church in promoting peacemaking, involving others, and establishing support systems.
  • Crafting a culture of peace requires three building blocks: having a passion for the gospel, unified leadership that exhibits a shepherd's heart to protect and guide, and embracing a peacemaking theology. By focusing on these building blocks, we can create a harmonious society that avoids the slippery slope towards violence.
  • This lesson highlights the significance of unified leadership within the church, demonstrating how effective leadership can help overcome crises and conflicts. By examining factors that contribute to unity and disunity among leaders, you will gain insight into the importance of addressing issues such as control, communication, differing gifts, competition, and qualifications in order to maintain a cohesive and gospel-centered leadership team.
  • You will gain insight into the importance of preparation and certain characteristics that need to be in place before conflict in order to build a united leadership team, using an analogy of running a marathon.
  • This lesson provides insights on understanding conflict and developing a peacemaking theology, teaching you how to respond biblically and create an approach that honors God and benefits those involved in the conflict.
  • You will learn practical steps to overcome conflict by reflecting the glory of God, responding with humility and grace, prioritizing unity over self-interest, speaking the truth in love, and pursuing forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • By learning practical peacemaking tools and focusing on communication, you'll enhance your ability to resolve conflicts by mastering responsible listening and speaking, enabling you to better understand others and communicate your message more effectively.
  • You will learn about the importance of listening as a spiritual practice to connect with God and others, and how being open and attentive to God's voice through listening can lead to greater awareness of His presence and deeper relationships with Him and others.
  • Gain insights into the barriers to good listening, the 600 word gap between listening capacity and speaking rate, and the objectives of responsible listening to improve communication and build trust in relationships.
  • In this lesson, you learn about the vital role of responsible speaking and listening in conflict resolution and how taking responsibility for understanding others and being understood can improve the chances of successful outcomes, along with strategies to enhance communication.
  • Learn to manage the Grapevine, an informal communication network, and understand the roles of Centrals and Peripherals in sharing information, as well as conflict mediation techniques and the importance of acknowledging and accommodating uneven tables in disputes.
  • This lesson highlights the crucial role of peacemaking beyond the church, touching on the history of American evangelicalism, race relations, and the inspiring story of Koinonia Farm, which exemplifies the importance of fostering reconciliation in a divided world.

How conflict and leadership intersect..

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Responsible Listening (Part 3/3)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:01] So what are some barriers to good listening to responsible listening? Why then, am I not a better listener if this stuff is so simple? Well, as I said, the first one is what we might call heightened emotions. When when emotions are strongest, it's especially hard to achieve that frame of of reference of another person. I've got all my stuff going on that I want to protect. And it's it's it's much more difficult. So it's important. And in these kind of conflict situations to lower the level of emotion with, uh, with learning technique. I tell you, it's kind of as I said the other day, it's kind of like learning to run the marathon. If you haven't trained beforehand, It's tough to just go out and run 26.2 miles. Uh, when you're in the midst of conflict now, I need to learn how to listen. It ain't going to happen. It's just not. Not in the cards. So practice this stuff in the in the shallow water before you get out into the deep water. The second one, which is very real in my life, is familiarity. What do I mean by that? The better I know someone. The more likely I am to make premature judgments about what they're going to say. The more history I have with another person. The more likely I am to predict or be out in front of them as to what they're going to say. This is probably the biggest issue that I face when I'm listening to my wife, whom I love more than anybody in the world. But this issue of familiarity is the issue that I have to shut down more often than anything else because. You know, maybe I am right 60% of the time of what she's going to say, but it's that other 40% that'll knock you out of the woods.

[00:02:05] It's just tough. So it's that is that issue of hanging in the conversation long enough to really hear what the other person is saying. And it it the stakes go up when we're familiar with the other person, strangers. I have no problem. Those that I care listen to. And this this energy that we give to listening is selective because you can't listen everybody with this kind of level of intensity. But but the where you want to establish trust, these principles are just critical. The third area is a fear of change. You know, if I listen to somebody without judgment, if I just kind of let it go, I feel sometimes and oftentimes like I'm going to lose control and I might end up being changed myself if if I listen too well. And people have learned, though, that that my own experience is that people don't want me to agree with everything they say. Uh, otherwise there's not much of a relationship. They do want me to to know that I've heard what they've said. Their their total message. The issue is, is again, not whether you've heard them, whether you've proven to them that you've heard them. So it's it's a heightened emotions. It's fear of change. It's familiarity. The other is what Pete the listener refers to is the 600 word gap. Are any of you familiar with the 600 word gap? It goes like this. Six hour word gap. Is that? Most of us can listen. At a rate. Of about 750 words a minute. If we they've tested people listening to audio, you can listen and retain information at about that speed. The problem is, is that most of us. Speak at an average rate of 150 words a minute. The gap between those two.

[00:04:18] Is 600 words per minute. Now multiply that if a person is talking for 2 minutes at 1200. The question is, what are what are you and I doing with that extra? Time with that gap. With the vacuum space, with our capacity to process. So, you know, I'm a Southerner, so I even speak slower than 150 words a minute. There's some people to speak faster, but it's it's close. So the question is right now, Rachel, what are you doing with that other 600 words? Trying to be present. Sam, what are you doing? Exactly. See, that's what's going on, isn't it? And so it's it's as natural as breathing. And the difficulty is that we've got all this stuff going on in our minds while the other person is talking. And here's the other trick to the 600 word gap. And it's this is critical and in conflict. Generally speaking, when we're listening to other people and when the emotions go up, all that kind of stuff, we tend to grab hold of the first thing they say. And begin our minds with this 600 word gap to to formulate our response. Whether it's a retort or a confrontation or whatever the case may. It's kind of like being in a in a bullfight. You know, we we want to, you know, do this and do that, make sure that we're on in the right space all the time. Here's the deal. Most people in a conflict situation. Or in any situation when we're dealing with personal relationship type stuff, they tend not to say what they really want to say at the beginning of the conversation. They tend to wait until the end of what they say, the end of their their talk to say what they really want to say.

[00:06:31] Now, have you experienced what I'm talking about here? When we respond to the first thing they've said. What does that do? It communicates that we really haven't heard them. It simply communicates that we've missed everything else. And you can hear that in language. Yeah, but you didn't hear me. I went on to say this and this, guys. And. But if we'll hang in there until the end of what they say. And. And then use devises techniques to repeat back the last thing that they've said. And I could take and take you through some exercises. There's some exercises here. Then we begin to build that level of trust, because then we begin to prove to people that we've heard what they've said. If all that. So it's that last thing that they said is it's about shutting down this six, in a word. And one of the ways that we shut it down is if we can concentrate long enough to pay attention to the last thing, a lot of that 600 word shuts down. We shut down that gap so that we really are listening. And I have done this exercise with so many people, but it's simply having someone stand and listen to the other person talk. And and and the the discipline is I am required to do only one thing, and that is I can take this discussion in any way I want after you're finished. But the only requirement is that I repeat something from the last phrase that you've stated before. I go on. And you cannot imagine how that simply changes the whole discussion. And that doesn't mean that you can't be share your own ideas. It doesn't mean that you can't be at. You know, you can't be directive in what you say or or any of that.

[00:08:31] But it simply means that if you'll hang in there long enough to hear the last thing rather than the first thing, then this gap begins to shut down and it creates the kind of trust that's so important in conflict situations. With them. We have some communication exercises and those of you that are on online will want to work through these. I think you'll find these helpful as practical tools starts out with ways that we tend to interrupt people or people interrupt us and then we turn and look at ourselves. There are a number of different exercises there that I think you'll find helpful to work through. If we had a week, we work on this communication thing a lot more. But here are some objectives as we talk about the specifics in responsible listening. One is to clarify generalities. People will talk in general terms like we tried that before. That's a generality, isn't it? It's important to clarify those generalities in every case, because don't take those generalities for granted. Critical issue. It's important to get those on the table, even if they seem to be obvious to you. Sometimes we can make critical errors. If we don't, if we take those for granted, then fine. Secondly, clarify, stated and unstated emotion. Sometimes somebody or say, you know, I'm really mad at you. And that's pretty clear. You can say, I perceive you're mad at me. You know, I get that. So it's it's it's easier when somebody actually communicates the emotion. But if somebody says, you always leave that door open. Well, that's not a stated emotion, is it? But there's a number of ways that you could interpret that emotion. And so it's helpful to. To clarify what they're feeling. I sense that you're you're you're you're frustrated with me or with these people, or whatever the case may be.

[00:10:44] You know, in the comeback made no, I'm not frustrated. I'm just, you know, impatient or whatever it is. So at least there's an ownership on their part and there's a clarification on yours. It's it's really dangerous to assume a certain emotion when that's actually not the emotion someone is feeling when you're in conflict. It's okay to identify it. A lot of us as Christians, we're afraid to identify those emotions because we're afraid that they're going to somehow reach out and bite us. But the reality is, is it's hard to get real work done unless we have identified what that emotion is so we can begin to unpack it. Like, tell me about that. Tell me about that. What what is going on? And so we we really seek that clarification and really that that can unpack it for us. So that's the whole area of responsible listening. And again, I could encourage you to pick up Peter to listen book. It's called Be Your Own executive Coach, and it has a lot of these lot of these principles within it, not all together presented the way that have been presented here, but it's a helpful piece of work. It's an earthy piece of work. It's written for business leaders, but I think you'll find it very, very helpful because it's written in a very engaging style.


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