Good communication is the key to any good relationship. But family communication is especially important because it sets the tone for how people interact with others in society. Improving family communication can help strengthen relationships and bring families closer together. Incorporate the following advice to open the doors to effective communication within your family.
Before speaking with a family member, especially if you are upset, check your intention. Decide that your intention will be to understand the other and to be understood. This will bring focus to the interaction and allow both individuals to have their needs met.
Take the time to communicate your gratitude to your family members each day. It can be as simple as a one-sentence note of thanks. Your proactive expression of gratitude will shift the communication climate to a positive one, bringing family members closer together.
When you take the time to listen to your children and spouse, they are more inclined to feel loved and appreciated. Ask about their day or how they feel about a certain subject--and truly listen to what they say. This will help enrich your understanding and empathy for your family members.
One of the most difficult communication skills is expressing ourselves honestly with compassion, especially when we are upset. When experiencing difficult emotions, proactive communicators can be mindful and work to transform their emotions, instead of allowing the negative emotions to shape the interaction.
When communicating with loved ones, be aware of your tone of voice. Communicating in an aggressive tone only makes others defensive and makes them more apt to reject what you are saying. Approaching things calmly and with a level head will help your message be received and understood.
One of the worst things you can do is to say something negative to a loved one in the heat of the moment. Take a few breaths and wait until you cool down to respond. It is better to respond at a later time, rather than saying something detrimental.
It is tempting to blame or shame when you are frustrated or angry. Comments such as, “You caused this” or “You should know better,” only hurt the communication process. Expressing feelings in a more positive way such as, “I am upset because….” is a much more effective way to communicate your feelings and needs to your loved ones.
Oftentimes, after interacting with family members, we feel like we have done what we can and have no power to affect how the listener will respond. A proactive approach would be to ask for comments and feedback. Your interest in their opinion will be appreciated and you will gain the tools needed to improve future communications.
As with most parenting techniques, love, understanding and patience prevail over aggression and frustration. Always take a moment to cool down and approach the situation in a calm and concise manner. Everyone involved will be grateful for the openness and relief achieved by improving the flow of communication.
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