Today’s guest blogger is author, Dr. Gary Chapman, who shares with us what he calls The Five Levels of Communication.
Just as it is helpful to identify certain communication patterns, it is also helpful to understand that various levels of communication exist. All communication is not equal in value. Some levels of communication foster greater intimacy than others. We will certainly communicate on all five levels, but in a marriage relationship we desire to spend more and more time at the deeper levels.
Level 1: Hallway Talk – “Fine, how are you?”
This level involves surface talk – the nice, polite things we say to one another throughout the day, the expected things. Such statements are not to thought of as totally useless; they are positive and they do acknowledge the other person’s presence. However, some people never go deeper than this first level of communication.
Level 2: Reporter Talk – “Just give me the facts.”
Conversation on level 2 involves only the facts: who, what, when and where. You tell each other what you have seen and heard, when and where it took place, but you share nothing of your opinions about the events. I am not suggesting that this level of communication is unimportant; the success of much of life is dependent upon this kind of communication.
Level 3: Intellectual Talk – “Do you know what I think?”
Level 3 goes beyond the sharing of factual information. We are now sharing our opinions, interpretations, or judgements about the matter. We are letting another person in on how we are processing the factual information in our minds. Obviously the possibility of conflict or differences is much more likely on level 3 than on levels 1 or 2. A necessity for communication growth is giving each other the freedom to think differently. When one tries to force the other to agree with his opinions, then intimacy evaporates and argument or silence prevails.
Level 4: Emotional Talk – “Let me tell you how I feel.”
On level 4 we share our emotions and how we feel about things. ”I feel hurt, disappointed, angry, happy, sad, excited, bored, unloved, romantic, or lonely.” These are the kinds of feeling words we use on this level. For most people, sharing feelings is more difficult than sharing thoughts. Our feelings are more private. the distance between level 3 and level 4 may be a giant step. If I share my feelings and you don’t like my feelings, you may be hurt or disappointed in me, or you may get angry with me. I may then have great difficulty coping with your rejection or anger; therefore, I may be reluctant to share my feelings again. We risk much more when we communicate on this level, but we also have the potential for entering a higher level of communication.
Level 5: Loving, Genuine Truth Talk – “Let’s be honest.”
On this level, we are at the apex of communication. I like to picture this level as a platform upon which we can build a healthy marriage with a high degree of intimacy. It is where we are honest but not condemning, open but not demanding. It allows each of us freedom to think differently and feel differently, while still being accepted.