Communication is an important part of any relationship. It helps us understand each other better, build trust, and strengthen our relationships. But how do we communicate effectively in today’s world?
The Importance of Family Communication
Good communication is essential for strong, healthy family relationships. It can help you:
Improve your ability to connect: When you feel close to your family, you are more likely to confide in them and share important parts of your life. This can lead to a stronger sense of connection and intimacy.
Build trust and respect: Trust is the foundation of any strong relationship. When you communicate openly and honestly with your family, you build trust and respect.
Resolve conflict in a positive way: When you have strong communication skills, you can resolve conflict more effectively. This can lead to less stress and a more positive relationship with your family.
Understand each other better: Communication can help you understand your family’s values, beliefs, and feelings. This understanding can help you resolve disagreements and build a stronger relationship.
Prepare for when bad things happen: If you have a strong relationship with your family, you can rely on them for support during difficult times. Children who trust that their parents will truly listen to them will be more likely to confide in them when they are in trouble.
Learn to trust each other: Good communication is the key to building trust. When you share your thoughts and feelings openly with your family, you build a foundation of trust.
Why is family communication difficult for some people?
They grew up in a family where communication was not encouraged: In some families, communication is not seen as important. This can make it difficult for people to express their thoughts and feelings. An example of this is the phrase “children should be seen and not heard.”
They have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings: Some people find it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings. An example of this is someone who is shy or introverted.
They find it hard to communicate without getting angry or upset: When people have difficulty communicating, they may get angry or upset. When that happens, it can be difficult to have a constructive conversation.
They have trouble listening to others: When people have trouble communicating, they may also have trouble listening to others. This can make it difficult to understand what the other person is trying to say. This often leads to misunderstandings.
They feel like they are not being heard or understood by their family: When people don’t feel heard or understood, they may stop trying to communicate. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
They've never learned good communication skills: Some people may never have learned good communication skills. This can make it difficult to communicate effectively.
Learn to communicate as a family
This course is intended for families with teenagers or young adults who need help with communicating with each other about living together now and their plans for the future.
Different Types of Communication
Note: Non-verbal communication can be hard for someone on the Autism spectrum or who struggles with other disorders that messes with facial expression. Lots of illnesses and injuries can cause flat affect and make somebody seem to be expressing emotions that aren't really there. Like schizophrenia or depression for example, or brain injuries such as from a concussion. They can all completely flatten someone's outward emotional expression and make it seem like they're being flippant or dismissive when they aren't.
An example of this is when someone expresses their love for you through words and actions. They may not directly use the words, "I love you," but they may go out of their way to show you by the way they look at you or by giving you a hug.
How can you model good communication skills for your family?
Here are some ways to model good communication skills:
Listen more than you talk.
Avoid using “you” statements.
Use “I” statements.
Be aware of your body language.
Be aware of your tone of voice.
How can you increase and improve your family's communication?
1. Start by talking about what's going on in your life.
"Hey, Shawn. You'll never guess what happened to me at the mall today!"
"You know, when I was younger, I wanted to be an architect. I used to love drawing floorplans for houses."
"Wow. Today was a DAY! It seemed like I couldn't get anything right. Ever have a day like that?"
2. Talk about how you feel.
"I feel overwhelmed with all the stuff I need to do this week."
"I'm so excited about my new job. It's a great opportunity for me!"
"I don't know what to think about the news. It's really confusing."
3. Ask questions.
"What did you think when you heard the news today?"
"What do you think is the biggest problem in the world today?"
"Do you have a favorite book/movie? Why do you like it so much?"
4. Don't take everything personally.
"I'm sorry that I said something that hurt you. Can you tell me more about why it bothered you?"
"It seems like something is bothering you. Is there anything I can do to help?"
5. Be honest.
Don't lie to your family members. They'll see right through it. Instead, tell them the truth, even when it hurts. You might feel bad about hurting their feelings, but they'll appreciate that you're being honest with them. Honesty is the foundation of any strong relationship.
"I don't agree with your opinion on this, but I respect that it's yours."
"I know this isn't what you wanted to hear, but here's my honest opinion..."
6. Let each person completely state his or her thought
6. Let each person completely state his or her thought without interruption.
Interruptions can be frustrating, and they make people feel like their opinion doesn't matter. So if you want to improve your family's communication, try hard not to interrupt each other. Allow each person to completely state his or her thought without interruption.
7. Attack the problem, not
7. Attack the problem, not each other.
"Let's brainstorm some solutions for this issue."
"I'm unhappy with how messy this house is. What do you think would be the best way to solve this problem?"
"How can we work together to improve this situation?"
8. Say "thank you”.
"Thank you so much for picking up after yourself."
"I really appreciate you picking me up after school yesterday."
"Thank you for being so understanding and patient. It means a lot to me."