Good family communication is more than just talking while someone else listens. Good communication is a skill that every single parent should develop because therein lies the key to family harmony and successful parenting.
Here are my top 10 Good Communication Tips:
- Listen More; Talk Less.
We have two ears and one mouth for a very good reason. Listening is key to a healthy relationship. If you only half listen, waiting for your chance to express your opinion, then you are not really listening and may totally be missing out on what your child or spouse is really saying.
2. Seek to Understand.
As you listen, seek to understand what the person is really feeling and what they are going through. Stop yourself from:
- Jumping in to tell YOUR similar story
- Interrogating with lots of data-type questions
- Giving an immediate opinion or being critical
- One-upping: “if you think that’s bad wait till you hear about what happened to me!”
- Being dismissive of a person’s feelings: “You’ll be fine. You’re blowing this way out of proportion.”
3. Accept Responsibility for Your Emotions and Actions.
Don’t put the blame for family problems on others. Acknowledge the part you played in the conflict.
4. Put Down Distractions and Actively Listen.
Whether you are eating a meal or playing a game together, put down the phone!
5. Clearly Explain What You Want/Need.
Instead of complaining, make specific requests that communicate exactly what you want or need. Don’t ask your kids or spouse to do things that are vague, such as “Don’t be so noisy!” Try being positive and specific: “I’m on an important phone call, could you go in the other room for 5 minutes?”
6. Stay on Message.
It’s easy to follow rabbit trails and bring up past grievances when you are airing frustrations to your kids or spouse. This only leads to more conflict.
Stick to the point of the present problem and stay on that message. Scorecards used in family communication do not provide solutions; they only result in resentment.
7. Respond, Don’t React.
After you’ve listened (and understood), give yourself time to think about what you want to say.
8. Focus on Your Body Language.
Studies show that 65% of all communication is non-verbal. Look for visual signs that your child understands what you are saying. Also, be aware of the signals that your body is sending. This includes giving lots of eye contact.
9. Learn the Art of Good Question Asking.
Asking good questions means:
- No interrogating: Where did you go? Why did you go there? What did you do while you were there?
- No yes/no questions: Did you have fun at school today? Instead, ask open ended questions: What was the best part of your day at school today?
- Ask your child how they feel or what they are thinking; let them express their opinion without judgment.
- Ask questions that allow them to solve their own problem: If you could do anything to help with this situation, what would you choose?
10. Practice Tactful Over-Communication.
Over-communicating means to look for different ways to say the same thing in a constructive way. It is not nagging or constantly reminding.
For instance, when it comes to chores, you can instruct on when and how to do a chore once, put up a chart, and tell them a snack is ready when they are done with their chores. That’s about as far as the communication needs to go. If the chores are not done, natural consequences should occur.
The Single Biggest Problem in Communication
Playright George Bernard Shaw said that The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
I fear that a lot of families are under the illusion that they are communicating just because there’s a lot of talking noise in their household.
If there are constant conflicts in your home, or you feel the family is disconnecting from each other, a bit of good communication can go a long way.
“But I was not raised in a home that had good communication! I’m not sure how to help my kids with it.” If that’s you, please let me help. Schedule a free consultation and let’s talk about what I can do to help you.