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Effective Communication

In the famous Biblical story of Joseph & his brothers, it says that when Judah approached Joseph he said, "If you please, my lord, may your servant speak a word in my lord's ears.” (Genesis, 44:18). Judah indicated that he wished to speak very softly, virtually whispering "a word in my Lord's ears."

What was the purpose of that? Furthermore, why does the Torah bother to tell something that does not appear significant?

Ah! Torah is always teaching us something.

There is great emphasis today on methods of communication. Difficulties in relationships are often attributed to problems in communicating.

It is related that a minister left his sermon on the lectern. An observer noted that he had made marginal notes on the method of delivery. One note said, "Go slowly and emphasize." Another said, "Gesture upwards." At one point the note read, "Argument very weak here. Yell loudly!"

If what you have to say really has merit, you will make yourself heard if you speak softly. Shouting is a giveaway that your argument is weak.

Solomon says, "The gentle words of the wise are heard above the shouts of a king over fools." (Ecclesiastes 9:17). A soft voice can actually drown out a shout.

Judah believed that his argument for the release of Benjamin was very convincing. In order to impress Joseph that what he was about to say was valid, Judah said, I am going to say it to you softly."

And why does the Torah tell us this? To teach us effective communication. If you have a valid argument and you bellow it, the other person will tune you out. Instead of listening to the content of your argument, he will prepare a rebuttal. Shouting and harsh words betray the weakness of your argument. Speaking softly and gently will enable you to be heard. (Adapted from, Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski.)

Gottman in his book, The Seven Principals of Marriage, asserts that softening your ‘startup’ is crucial to resolving conflicts because discussions invariably end on the same note they began. If you start an argument harshly—meaning you attack your spouse verbally— you'll end up with at least as much tension as you began. But if you use a softened startup—meaning you complain but don't criticize or otherwise attack your spouse—the discussion is likely to be productive.

The following is a little of what I teach in:


Moshe Gutnick LMFT 818-268-1721 moshe@MCinLA.com

I Teach Couples How to Argue and Communicate Effectively.


Pejorative communication between a couple erodes each partner's self-esteem and makes mutual problem solving almost impossible. Clean communication, on the other hand, protects self-esteem and creates a safe place for working on problems. Clean communication means taking responsibility for the impact of what you say. It means being honest rather than lying or telling half-truths; it means being com­plete rather than leaving important pieces of the communication un­spoken; and, most importantly, it means being supportive: fostering closeness and understanding rather than defensiveness and distance. 


Ten Commandments of Clean Communication

If you follow these basic guidelines, you'll virtually eliminate pejorative communication in your marriage. In the process, levels of hurt and anger will be greatly reduced.



When you self-actualize: 

  1. Be Sure Your Spouse Is Listening.
  2. Begin With Something Positive.
  3. Do Not Use Denigrating Labels.
  4. Do Not Attack.
  5. Do Not Exaggerate.
  6. Do Not Mind read.
  7. Discuss Issues Not Episodes.
  8. Focus On Feelings And Not Philosophy.
  9. Do Not Generalize.
  10. Clarify Your Needs.


When you are the speaker:

  • Explain your point of view briefly and succinctly.
  • Talk in terms of yourself and your experience. Use “I” state­ments to express your feelings and needs.
  • Avoid blame and name calling. No "you" statements about your partner's failings.
  • Stop after five minutes. Your partner will summarize what you just said. Let your partner know if anything is left out.


Following the 10 commandments of ‘speaking’ means, the speaker does not accuse, blame, attack, or make ‘you’ statements about the other partner; but rather allows the other partner into their world, by being vulnerable and making ‘I’ statements about themselves that split their own sea; so their partner can see who they are and understand their hurt and what their ‘inner child’ is really feeling.




When you self-transcend:

  1. Pay Attention.
  2. Don’t Become Defensive.
  3. Reflect Everything The Speaker Says.
  4. Ask Questions.
  5. Do not use blocks to avoid listening to your partner.


When you are the listener:

  • Pay close attention to really understand your partner's feelings, opinions, and needs.
  • No disagreeing, arguing, correcting, or talking back.
  • You may ask questions for clarification only 


 Disclaimer: This blog/article is not a substitute for therapy and does not guarantee any outcomes for therapy. Any advice given does not imply any therapeutic relationship and is taken at your own risk.

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References (8)

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  • Response
    Response: useful reference
    Terrific Web-site, Stick to the useful work. Thank you.
  • Response
    Response: Belinda Broido
    Marriage Counseling - Blog - Effective Communication
  • Response
    Response: Belinda Broido
    Marriage Counseling - Blog - Effective Communication
  • Response
    Response: Belinda Broido
    Marriage Counseling - Blog - Effective Communication
  • Response
    Response: Belinda Broido
    Marriage Counseling - Blog - Effective Communication
  • Response
    Response: Belinda Broido
    Marriage Counseling - Blog - Effective Communication
  • Response
    Response: belinda broido
    Marriage Counseling - Blog - Effective Communication
  • Response
    Marriage Counseling - Blog - Effective Communication

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