In my work with families, I am frequently asked to provide tips and insight into how to improve and increase communication. Here are 6 guidelines to use:
One of the most difficult tasks families face today is finding time to spend together. Despite busy work schedules, homework, and extra-curricular activities, it is imperative for healthy families to find time to communicate and to engage in meaningful conversation!
Healthy families communicate in a clear and direct manner and avoid indirect and vague communication. Clear and direct communication will serve to strengthen intimacy and emotional bonds and is especially important when attempting to resolve conflict.
An essential aspect of communication is listening to what others are saying! An active listener does his or her best to understand the point of view of the speaker. It is important to acknowledge and respect the speaker’s perspective by paying close attention to both verbal and nonverbal messages.
Not all family members communicate in the same manner or at the same level. It is important to consider a family member’s age and developmental level in order to use appropriate language and to ensure delivering a clear message.
Effective communicators pay close attention to verbal and nonverbal communication. It is important to be aware of facial expressions and body language. If cues are incongruent, it is important to point this out and explore how the speaker is really feeling.
While families often have to address difficult topics or problems between family members, effective communication is primarily positive. Research indicates that most unhappy family relationships are a result of negative communication patterns while healthy families have five positive interactions to each negative exchange. It is important for family members to compliment and encourage one another.