Communicate: 7 Ways to Do It Better in Your Family

Communicate Better with Your Family: 7 Tips

You know that feeling of "flow" you get when things are in harmony and everything just seems to click? It's a feeling we get when we understand each other, which in its purest form, means we are effectively communicating.

And when we're off, we're off.  Sometimes we seem to misunderstand and miscommunicate on multiple levels.  At such times, we seem light years away from those we love the most.

Want to stay in "flow" more often than not? Follow these seven tips to keep yourself feeling close to those you love.
The good news? Even when those you love have a hard time keeping these rules, you can still do it. It will make a difference. Try it and see.

Tips to strengthen your communication skills:

1.      Be a good listener. Learning how to listen effectively is the first line of defense in good communication. You can be great at speaking, but if you don't understand others, the skill may be useless. Plus...being able to really listen to others helps them trust you and feel that you truly "get them.  

You can strengthen your listening skills by just paying closer attention when others are speaking. Allow them to finish their thoughts before you speak again.

You can further strengthen your listening skills by checking for understanding.  Do this by paraphrasing what the other person just said, and ask them if you hear correctly.  Then, respond with your thoughts on the matter.

2.      Be flexible and open. Even if it's not the most convenient time for you, strive to be there for your loved ones when they want to talk. It's important for them to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with you. This is especially important with our kids and teens.  When they are ready to talk, we need to be prepared to listen.  Those moments may be fleeting, and we'll want to capture them when we can.

3.      When it's possible, prepare what you're going to say. Sometimes communication issues happen just because you don't say what you mean. This happens more often than you think! Thinking it through before you speak ensures that you send the message you intend.
  • Even in the middle of a conversation, take a moment to plan what you're going to say next before you say it. Don't be afraid to say, "Let me try to put this in a way that makes sense."  "I'm thinking of a way to put it the best way I can." Don't feel you have to have an immediate response.  Allow yourself time to think of your response.
4.      Avoid jumping to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions serves no one. You might be assuming something that isn't even true. It's important to find out your loved ones' true thoughts and feelings and clarify yours as well. Knowing the whole story can save people from getting hurt by incorrect assumptions, yourself included. Again, check for understanding, "Let me make sure I hear you right." "You are thinking that...", "You wish that...", "You want to..."  Checking for understanding can clear up a variety of ills.

5.      Strive for understanding. Sometimes you'll hold yourself and your loved ones to higher standards than you expect from others.  Remember: no one is perfect, including you. If someone makes a mistake, explain to them that it's okay.

·        Avoid holding a grudge because it will only cloud your communication efforts with negativity and tension.

6.      Compromise. Don't always try to be right. The best solutions allow everyone to walk away from the situation satisfied with the outcome.

7.      Practice makes perfect. Good communication is a skill that you can always strengthen. Relationships between people are ever changing and there's always something new that you can learn.
  • Be willing to continue learning how to better communicate with your loved ones. This exploration may enable your relationships to go that much deeper because you care enough to keep trying.
Remember that you should never be afraid to speak up when you're talking with your loved ones. They're not mind readers, and they deserve to know how you're feeling! Conversely, it's also important to be understanding and receptive to their feelings. Good communication goes both ways and can strengthen your bonds for a lifetime.


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