10 Ways to Improve Family Communication

Jan 4 / Michelle Arseneault
When it comes to communicating with your family, there are tried and true techniques you can use to really connect and improve your relationship. Read on to learn more about these techniques.

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?
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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?

For some people, communicating with their family can be difficult. This may be because:
  • 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.

Communicate with respect and understanding course card

Learn to communicate as a family

Sign up for our Communicate with Respect and Understanding course.

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

There are four different types of communication. Click each item below to learn more.

How can you model good communication skills for your family?

If you want to improve your family's communication skills, be a good role model. Always communicate with your family members in a respectful way.

Here are some ways to model good communication skills:
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Listen more than you talk.

When you are talking to your family, really listen to what they are saying. Try to understand their point of view.
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Avoid using “you” statements.

When you use “you” statements, such as “You always make me angry,” it can make the other person feel defensive. Instead, try to use “I” statements.

Use “I” statements.

When you are communicating with your family, use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You never listen to me,” try saying, “I feel like you are not listening to me.
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Be assertive.

Assertive communication is a way of communicating that is respectful and clear. When you are assertive, you do not try to control the conversation or the other person. You also do not let the other person control the conversation. This is not the same as being aggressive. When we're being aggressive we might raise our voice, interrupt each other, or dominate a conversation without giving the other person a chance to speak.
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Be aware of your body language.

Your body language can communicate a lot about how you are feeling. Be aware of your facial expressions and body posture.
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Be aware of your tone of voice.

Your tone of voice can also communicate a lot about how you are feeling. Avoid sounding angry, judgmental, or sarcastic.

How can you increase and improve your family's communication?

1. Start by talking about what's going on in your life.

If you want to improve communication with your family, start by sharing what’s happening in your life. This will help them feel included and connected. You might also share some of your goals and dreams.
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Example conversation starters:
"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?"
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2. Talk about how you feel.

Another effective technique for improving communication with your family is to talk about how you feel. It’s easy to assume that everyone else feels the same way as you do, but that isn’t necessarily the case. By talking about how you feel, you’re allowing others to express themselves too.
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Example conversation starters:
"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."
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3. Ask questions.

One of the easiest ways to improve family communication is to ask questions. This helps people share what they think and feel without feeling judged or criticized. You might ask them about something they did recently, or you might ask them about something that happened in the past.
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Example conversation starters:
"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?"
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4. Don't take everything personally.

Often, when someone is upset, we automatically jump to the conclusion that we did something to upset them. And then we get defensive. If you notice that someone is upset, take a breath, and then try to figure out why. Ask open-ended questions so you can understand the full context of what's going on. And if it turns out you did do something to upset them, try to listen to their side without getting upset too. A sincere apology or explanation can go a long way in improving your relationship.
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Example conversation starters:
"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?"
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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.

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Example conversation starters:
"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..."
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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.

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7. Attack the problem, not each other.

If you're discussing a problem, it's easy to become frustrated or angry. But no matter how heated the conversation gets, try not to attack each other. Focus on attacking the problem instead of attacking each other.
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Example conversation starters:
"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?"

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8. Say "thank you”.

It's easy to overlook the small things that family members do for each other, but it's important to show your appreciation. Saying thank you is a simple way to improve communication and strengthen your relationships.
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Example conversation starters:
"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."

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9. Cook and eat together.

This one was huge for my family. We used to take turns cooking meals and often had "fend for yourself" meals. Now we order boxes of ready-to-make meals and cook together. It has improved our communication tenfold and has brought us closer. Plus, it's a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen and teach them life skills.
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10. Make time to connect as a family.

One way to improve family communication is to take time to connect with your family. This means putting away your electronic devices and spending time talking and listening to each other. It can be helpful to set aside time each week for family time. This is the time when you can talk, play games, or just be together.
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If you are having difficulty communicating with your family, you may want to seek help from a therapist or coach. They can help you learn how to communicate more effectively. They can also help you resolve conflicts.
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