Christian Home Builder - Lesson 12

Aces And Volleys In Communication Games

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student will be able to cite three characteristics of struggling communications.
  2. The student will be able to cite seven rules for effective speaking in relationships.
  3. The student will be able to cite five rules for effective listening in relationships.


  1. The teacher will want to copy the Self-Analysis Inventory for each student. They will need to complete this inventory in class and place in their journal.
  2. The teacher may want to bring a paddleball, ping pong ball, paddles and a tennis racket with tennis balls for demonstration.


One of the characteristics of strong Christian families is the ability to continually improve their communication styles and effectiveness.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class


  1. "Who in the family” game? Ask each person to think about who in the family is most likely to communicate in the following way:
    1. Who in the family listens to everyone else fairly?
    2. Who in the family creates new ideas?
    3. Who in the family finishes someone else's sentences for them?
    4. Who in the family stonewalls other members of the family with silence?
    5. Who in the family talks before thinking?
    6. Who in the family thinks a long time before talking?
    7. Who in the family criticizes new ideas?
    8. Who in the family is overly enthusiastic about new ideas?
  2. The teacher may want to describe different kinds of communication processes using the different paddleballs.
    1. The old paddleball uses a wooden paddle with rubber string and ball attached. The game is played by bouncing the ball back and forth on the paddle. This represents the kind of communicator that makes no contact with anyone else. They are constantly making speeches but not reaching anyone else with their communication. They are talking but no communication is taking place!
    2. The second kind of communicator is similar to a tennis racket and ball. This kind of communicator is constantly trying to, "Ace” their opponent. They are interested in making points and winning the game. Neither the paddleball speaker nor the tennis ball speaker is effective.
    3. Healthy communication is like a good spirited ping-pong game. It involves a volleying back and forth of the ball (message) between the two parties (members of the family). There is an intent to return what the other person has said before we make a point ourselves.

Learning Experiences:

  1. James 3:1-12
    1. Read this passage and discuss the kinds of advice James is giving Christians on the use of the tongue. (Controlling the tongue is difficult. What we say has a determining impact on how we live. What we say affects others. Our speech should be consistently pure.)
    2. What is James saying about the use of the tongue for the Christian? (Difficult, dangerous)
  2. Clinebell and Clinebell state, "it is possible to view chronic busyness as another barrier to intimacy. Certainly it is true, that love and intimacy require time to grow. Adults and their children are frantically over-scheduled. That this breathless removes occasions for closeness is undeniable. We live in a society in which it is easy to be too busy, a society in which people trying for their first heart attack, are awarded by social approval of their drive, ambition and success. However, busyness can also be a symptom of our fear of intimacy. We run so we will not have to relate to each other in depth! Could it be that our society's pressure toward superficial relatedness is an expression of a general fear of intimacy-with self and others?”
  3. Three Characteristics Of Struggling Communications:
    1. Couples lack the time and energy to communicate effectively. The ability to communicate well requires not only time devoted to it on a regular basis, but also the emotional and intellectual energy to invest in that communication process.
    2. There is very little deep communication. Communications that center on thoughts, facts and information are necessary but don't build the deeper levels of the relationship. The building blocks of these deeper levels include judgements, feelings and personal commitments. These take time and energy to develop.
    3. There is little patience for differences in communication styles.
  4. Seven rules for effective speaking:
    1. Use "I” statements versus "you” or "we” statements.
      1. "I” statements place the responsibility for a thought or feeling directly on the person that is sending the message. "You” statements and "we” statements tend to blame others around us for our own thoughts and feelings.
      2. Use process versus terminal language. Terminal language paints a label on the individual. For instance, we might say, "he is just stupid.” By contrast, process language paints a picture of the situation (describes it in detail) and allows the person to change his actions. In other words, I might say, "I would like for us to arrive ten minutes early for our appointment,” rather than, "we are always late everywhere we go.”
    2. Proper Timing:
      1. Good communicators wait for the appropriate time and setting to visit with someone about their message.
      2. Ask what time is best for the other person.
    3. Control unnecessary bluntness:
      1. Total openness in any relationship is more than that relationship can bear. If someone says that they are going to tell you the "blunt truth,” you can assume what follows will be an exaggeration.
      2. There are many times we do not need to say everything we think.
    4. Use simple direct speech:
      1. Conversations should be direct and kind but it should get to the point. Rambling is not necessary and discourages the listener.
    5. Say-Ask Rule:
      1. If you really want something, say what you want first and then ask the person to respond to that. "I would like to go out to dinner how do you feel about that?
    6. Softeners And Foreboders:
      1. These are fillers we use to try and prepare someone for what is about to be communicated. They are unnecessary.
      2. For example, a softener might be "Now, I don't want you to get upset when I tell you this but…” A foreboder would say "You are not going to like this but…”
  5. Five rules for Listening:
    1. The listener determines if communication will take place. This is one of the basic axioms of all communication processes. If I'm not listening to you, even though you are speaking, communication is not taking place.
    2. Empathetic versus deliberative listening. Empathetic listeners listen to the whole message, even though it may not be delivered in the best way. Deliberative listeners listen like lawyers. Waiting for the other person to stop so they can jump in to make their case. Deliberative listening destroys a relationship over time.
    3. Wait for the message to be completed. Control the urge to speak. Before I can make my case or my point, I need to understand fully what you are saying to me. I need not to interrupt, complete the sentence for someone else, or shut down listening just because I don't like to listen to what is being said.
    4. Watch for triggers. We all have emotionally laden words or ideas that set us off quickly. The speaker may inadvertently try to trigger one of those responses from us. Be sure not to let the emotional response cloud your ability to listen to everything that is being said. Sometimes we shut down listening just before the person says something we really would agree with.
    5. Check out the message before you send your own message. Why don't you try saying, "what I heard you say was…” after the person has spoken, so you can check out the meaning of their message before sending yours. This is like playing a good game of table tennis.


  1. The students will be asked in their journal to complete the Communication Analysis Sheet that provides a review of the characteristics of effective communications.


  1. H. Norman Wright, Communication Key To Your Marriage.
  2. Books on tape: Deborah Tannen, You Just Don't Understand.


Back to Christian Home Builder

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.