Speaker Listener Technique

The Speaker Listener Technique (SLT) is a concept developed by the founders of PREP® to help you improve your communication.

We have found in our Marriage Workshops the Speaker Listemer Technique (SLT) to be invaluable. When a discussion seems to be turning negative, it is time to say "I need a time out". Some people prefer to also use a hand signal at that time like the sports "time out" signal or a signal you choose together as a couple.

When a spouse calls "time out", it is an opportunity for a couple to calm down before continuing the conversation at a later time (anywhere from an hour to no later than the next day) using the Speaker Listener Technique. Initially after calling time out it is an opportunity to take authority over the enemy and pray for the marriage. Example:

"In the name of Jesus I command you demons to shut up and leave our marriage and not return"

"Thank you God for helping our marriage be in Your will and guiding us in our relationship, in Jesus name, amen."

For those of you who have never had a discussion get bad, this might occur when voices get louder and louder or when you are calling each other names that are not nice or when you both are hearing things more negatively than intended or when there is a subject that one of you refuses to discuss. These are called danger signs. Obviously, agreeing to have a time out requires both of you to agree.

The person noticing the danger signs and calling the time out should suggest a time to meet together to discuss it again. The other person is allowed to offer a different time to discuss it again. The discussion could start immediately or the time gap could be an hour or the next morning but no later than 24 hours. When the conversation resumes, it is good to take authority over the enemy by commanding, "in the name of Jesus, I command all demons to shut up, leave our marriage and not come back" Then it is good to pray for your marriage like, "God guide us in our discussion and help our marriage be in YOUR will. Thank YOU in Jesus' name, amen." If the discussion will not resume untill much later, it is okay to take authority and pray for your marriage then and later. My research has shown that you cannot overdose on prayer.

Note: Many couples have found the SLT helpful in improving communication also when times are normal. This communication skill used in normal times can prevent deterioration in a conversation. We also recommend using the SLT during your weekly couples meeting. Using the skill in the good times will make for better skills in difficult times, when good communication is essential to your marriage's peace and harmony.

Now you are ready to use the Speaker Listener Technique (SLT) in your discussions. As you may remember in the workshop, we use a card that we call the "floor". You can use anything handy (a pen, keys, a menu, etc.) and call it the floor. The person holding the floor is the speaker and the other person is the listener. The speaker should make at least 3 statements and after each statement the listener repeats. The listener may paraphrase when repeating at times. For example if the speaker says, "You are stupid" you don't say "I am stupid" rather you would paraphrase "you say, you think I am stupid". (one of the neat things about the SLT is that when the speaker hears that repeated back, they often will realize how offensive that sounds) If there is a question asked such as, "where do you want to go for dinner?" the listener's response would be "you want to know, where I would like to go for dinner?" - you do not respond with an answer until you have the floor.

Rules for the Speaker

1. Speak for your self. Don't mind read.

For example you may say "I don't feel very important in our marriage" but you don't want to say "You don't think I am very important" (that would be mind reading)

2. Keep the statements brief. Don't go on and on.

If a statement is too long, it may be difficult for the listener to remember all of it to repeat. It is allowed for the listener to ask "could you break that up in smaller statements?" If you say, "I'm disappointed you didn't throw out the trash" don't keep making complaining statements about the trash not being thrown out (that's going on and on)

3. Stop and let the listener repeat. After each statement

Rules for the listener

1. Repeat/Paraphrase what you hear.

Resist the temptation to slant what you repeat by your choice of words or the tone in your voice. Simply repeat it. The speaker then knows you correctly heard what was said and usually responds with something like "right" or "correct". Often in discussions, a person will be listening with one side of their brain and the other side of their brain they will be thinking of what to say back. If what was repeated is not what the speaker said, the speaker can say "no what I said was…" or if the speaker didn't like what you heard like "You said that you think I am stupid" the speaker may say "actually, what I meant to say was I think you are capable of making better decisions."

2. Focus on what the speaker said. Don't respond.

The listener must wait until they have the floor to respond, on matter what a great response you think you may have.

Rules for both

1. The Speaker always has the floor.

This should be the person holding what is designated as the "floor".

2. The Speaker keeps the floor while the listener repeats/paraphrases.

3. Share the floor.

Usually you share the floor after a minimum of 3 statements, with each being repeated. Although you may have a coach in the Workshop, it is essential that you help each other follow the rules or coach each other at home.

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