Amy Carroll » Listen » The Dance Between Speaking and Listening

The Dance Between Speaking and Listening

Wow. Your response to the series on listening has been amazing. I’ve read every comment, email, and social media post that you’ve sent, and I’m encouraged. We’re in this together!

But I’m certainly new to this, and I’m learning from so many others. In the upcoming weeks, I’m going to let you listen (see how I did that?) to some other voices with more experience. These are friends that I trust with additional resources for our growth as we learn to listen.

There will be lots of new thoughts and giveaways too, so make sure to read to the end and comment to enter!

Today, I’d like you to welcome my sweet friend and valued agent, Blythe Daniel, and her mother/co-author, Helen McIntosh. Today’s post is an excerpt from their wonderful book, Mended: Restoring the Heart of Mothers & Daughters.

(At no additional cost to you, this post contains affiliate links that help maintain the site. Click here for my full disclosure.)

There’s a dance between mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, husbands and wives. Do you bite your lip to listen or go for it? Sometimes we don’t know what to say to each other when there have been hurt feelings, time or space, or something more serious between you. What do you say exactly?

Part of being wise is knowing when to speak. Silence can be golden, but not if we are mute at the wrong time. We don’t want to talk too much, but we don’t want to seem uncaring by our silence. You have probably seen wonderful dramatizations of people consoling one another without words, and it’s beautiful.  But at the right time, speak some words, and I am suggesting a very gentle sentence or two for starters. Even if you have been verbally put down or assaulted, you will want to regain your confidence to voice your thoughts by even speaking just a few appropriate sentences. Especially after a grievous loss or change, it’s helpful for the other one to say, “I am so sorry for what you are walking through. I don’t know what to say but I hurt for you/with you.” Another really good thing to say when you don’t know what to say is, “How do you see me helping you? What do you need that I can do for you?”

You may have just winced at that question. Do something for someone whom you feel awkward around because of the issues surrounding you, or for someone who perhaps doesn’t seem like she even wants you to bring up a conversation with her? Remember, your job is to ask. To initiate conversation. If she can’t accept your help, then you have at least asked. You can’t force yourself in, but you can offer. It may be the opening thread that helps tie your relationship together at some point down the road that you can’t see right now.

Have you prayed about the timing of your message? Often, right at the onset of pain, it’s hard to hear another person and you can mistakenly turn them away because you are really only thinking of yourself and your situation at the time. You might ask yourself, “Is my mother or daughter ready for me to have this conversation with her? Is it more about me wanting to get off my chest, or do I sense this would be helpful for her right now?” Make sure your need to talk isn’t more important than your mother’s or daughter’s need to hear it. It needs to be equally helpful and timely for both of you.

You will want to also pray for the hearer of your words, and for God to consecrate and bless your time. Your ability to sense how the conversation is going is a big part of talking and inviting yourself into the other’s life in that moment. You may come prepared to ask one thing, but have other words prepared so that you don’t feel at a loss for words and then resort to frustration or anger. You’ll want to pray before and after your conversation so that what you discuss is sealed and affirmed under the covering of the Lord Jesus and so that neither of you can deny His power in your conversation when doubt may want to creep in after your exchanges.

A great skill for families is listening well to one another. Hearing one another and hearing from God helps us replay to our loved ones in a wise and peaceful way. We need to be excellent listeners to words and hearts, and hearing from God for our replay is the greatest gift we can receive and the fruit we cultivate to offer others. God has encouraged us to listen well to others and listen to Him as he leads our hearts to respond.

From Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters, by Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh, 2019, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. Copyright 2019 by Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh.

Giveaway: Leave a comment telling one way listening has helped you OR one tip recommended by Blythe and Helen that you’ll try. Your comment will enter you in a random drawing for a copy of their new book, Mended: Restoring the Heart of Mothers & Daughters.

Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She has written for Christian Retailing and Focus on the Family, and she links bloggers with readers through BlogAbout. The daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh, she lives in Colorado with her husband and three children.

Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug®. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children and five grandchildren. For more information, visit

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  1. Paula Forgey says:

    Dear Amy, I am the mother of 5 daughters. Each was so different, I think it was an overwhelming thing to be able to listen to each one carefully. I am chore-oriented and it was easier for me to just “do” rather than listen. Now I’m older and they have children and we have moved too far away to be in their lives constantly which is what would be better for listening. As I travel to see them and spend time, I am trying to show them how God has changed my life where I am now and I want to listen and be there when I can. We are all as close at the phone. Thank you so much for your words. They are perfect for anyone to put into practice at any age.

  2. I love this post, so many great suggestions that I could for sure use as it seems my mom and I continue to step on each others toes and need to give each other grace from time to time. I will try using the words when I am not sure what to say, “I am so sorry for what you are walking through. I don’t know what to say but I hurt for you/with you.
    I also love the idea of praying before speaking to make sure my motives and heart are in the right place and I am not just thinking about myself in the situation but making sure the time is right for both parties.
    Excellent post!

  3. Timing and praying for the other person are two paths I see myself using with my mom and my daughter!

  4. Ann Souza says:

    I need to use this for sure!! “How do you see me helping you? What do you need that I can do for you?”
    Thank you!

  5. Liz Rozar says:

    Speak a few appropriate sentences after a time of loss

  6. “Praying for the hearer of your words” is a concept I can’t say I have every really done. I pray for me to say the right things. I pray for me to say it with a loving heart. I pray for the person to listen and change but to really pray that their ears be opened to hear the words God has placed on my heart is something I need to be more intentional about. Thank you for those wonderful words.

  7. Let’s not forget daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law….. Whatever I say or do, Lord help me to remember to do in Love!

  8. Maria Traettino says:

    Praying before listening softens my heart to feel what the other person is going through. The Holy Spirit allows me to see with my heart the hurt or the need instead of with my mind and charging in to make me feel good. Softens my words and my actions. And sometimes there is no need but to just sit and listen while they talk or cry whatever the case. That is when I know it is the Lord working through me and not me by my own strength.

  9. These are good tips, and I forget todo them all.

    My relationship work my mom has been damaged, and I don’t know how to talk to her. I’m going to Christian counseling, and continuously praying for myself and her. I’ve just now realized, I do want God to restore the relationship, I feel so bitter and angry with her. I forgive and then those feelings come right back. Sometimes I don’t even think the counseling helps me. As soon as I start talking to my mom and she begins her angry tirades, or manipulations my brain shuts off and I just want to hang up.

    I would read this book and use it if I was chosen for the free copy.

  10. This book is so needed in my life right now. But the funds aren’t there at this time. So every thing I can read is so very helpful. My daughter and I have been going through a situation right now for 2 years. It has been very hard because I am also missing the blessing of my grandchildren. But I have been faithfully praying and listening to God as to when is the right time to approach her. I feel the time is getting closer, but not there yet. So I will continue to pray.

  11. Diana Baynard says:

    I have two adult sons and I have difficulty communicating with them. I allowed my former husband to treat me with disrespect and so that’s what they learned. When they say something rude or disrespectful I just stay silent. I am afraid of losing them, like I lost their father. I really appreciated this message, especially the point about listening to God. Thank you.

  12. Candace Mallard says:

    Ahhh, listening, REALLY listening has been painful but helpful in restoring genuine relationship with my 19 year old daughter. Because I want to grow and desire relationship with her I’ve invited her to tell me how an unhealthy behavior of mine affected her growing up. I had no idea. I am getting ready to ask her this weekend (she is coming home for Easter) how my reaction to her not attending a lecture (I THOUGHT she should attend!) made her feel? I may NOT agree, and as hard as it may be, I am choosing to listen as I desire true connection with her.

  13. Anita Brady says:

    Learning to be gentle in my response when something hurtful as been said.

  14. I need to stop the lip service and open my heart and ears. I must pray more for the folks I love. I need to seek Godly wisdom as to what and when to speak and using HIS Word to minister to them.

  15. My relationship with several members of my family is strained right now over business. Thank you for the reminder to listen and not forge ahead in anger. It’s hard when you”be been so hurt,but it’s not all about me.

  16. Eileen E Santa says:

    Since I visited my brother and sister in law 2 months ago I have been wanting to talk with my sister in law. She is having a depression crisis and her faith is decreasing. But I’ve been postponing that talk . After reading today’s message I realized I wanted to Talk to her but maybe not to Listen. Thanks for these encouraging words. I now know I need to call her and listen and ask her how can I help?. Lord thanks for these resources you made available to me and others, please blessed Amy, Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh.Amen

  17. “Is my mother or daughter ready for me to have this conversation” is a great question that I will begin asking myself. I tend to always think about me and how important it is to get things off my chest. I rarely consider the other person and how the conversation will impact them.