A good flow of communication is one of the building blocks of healthy relationships with people we care about. This is especially true of family. When families are able to talk openly and honestly with each other, they both parents and children are able to build mutual respect and trust between each other. Everyone is different and everyone has different needs, so cooperating through communication can help each person feel valued and heard and strengthen the spirit of family cooperation. Here are some helpful things to keep in mind when building your family’s conversations and connections:
Be clear and be direct: One thing that trips up conversations between family members is when they are indirect and foggy; when people don’t say what they mean out of fear, shame, or distrust, it contributes to a dysfunctional family conversation that can worsen over time. Make sure that all family members feel safe enough to speak clearly and directly about their needs, feelings, and opinions in order to avoid harboring an atmosphere of resentment and secrecy.
Try family meetings: Pick a time once a week where the whole family gets together to talk about all things related to the family or life in general. This is a really good way of staying connected, especially in our furiously busy lives. Make the family meeting a place where are all members come together to authentically connect with one another.
Have a policy of focused listening: Nothing jambs a conversation like an inattentive listener. It is rude and disrespectful and leaves both parties feeling unhappy at the end of the talk. Make it a family policy to listen intently and with focus to what each member has to say-this is a way you can show your love, value, and respect for them.
Avoid yelling and shame: Do not allow shame and ridicule to seep into your family talks. Shame and yelling are counterproductive methods of dealing with issues that lead to fear, guilt, sadness, and anxiety. Keep the conversation environment positive and make everyone feel that they are in the safest place in the world to express themselves honestly-their family.
Building a healthy communication environment is vital to sustaining the wellness and self-esteem of all members of the family. We are social creatures and we need to be able to exchange information, feelings, and opinions in a safe and loving space. Take the time to reevaluate the way your family talks and interacts with each other-it may be time to oil the hinges on your family’s communication express. If you do, you will reap the benefits that come with a family who has a deep respect for one another and the freedom to express themselves openly and lovingly.