How much time do you spend communicating? One study shows that the average American spends 70% of their active hours each day communicating verbally. That’s a lot of talking!
But is it really communicating?
As parents, it’s easy to give information to our kids and call that communicating.
Don’t forget to ……
Your dad will be there to get you at……
Remember, your game this week on …….
Of course, this information is important and must be shared, but true heart-felt communication is not just dispensing information.
Information is “getting out” the facts or the feelings.
Whereas, communication is “getting through” to someone on a deeper level. It is about truly hearing someone and in turn, being heard and understood.
I don’t have any facts to back this up, but I’m pretty sure that miscommunication is at the root of many of the conflicts you face in your family. Either someone heard it, but wasn’t paying attention; someone forgot to say it; or someone didn’t like the way someone else said it.
Let’s take a closer look at the messages you are sending when you communicate:
- What you mean to say. This is usually what you wish you’d said and often does not get said in the way that you wish because you respond too quickly or without much thought.
- What you actually said. This is often your first reaction, and if you are angry or hurt, you will most likely say something you regret.
- What the other person hears. This is most likely NOT what you actually said. Their hearing is influenced by their own emotions in the moment.
- What the other person says about what you said. If they are telling someone what you said, there’s a chance that they don’t remember exactly, they exaggerate, or they leave out some very key information.
See how muddy communication can be? It gets very complicated because communication is 30% what you say, but 70% how you say it. That’s why it is so important to work on communicating well.
If you feel that your family is arguing a lot, there’s a good chance that working on some intentional communication skills could cut down on the conflict. Things as simple as:
- Taking time to respond instead of react.
- Actively listening and giving your full attention, without judging or criticizing.
- Not interruping each other.
- Asking questions that allow them to express their feelings and opinions.
- Speaking with clarity–being clear about boundaries and expectations.
- Speaking respectfully to one another.
Author George Bernard Shaw says that the “Single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Just because people are talking does not mean they are truly communicating.
What can you do this week to strengthen the communication in your home?
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