Every person has their own personality, as well as goals, wants, needs, and beliefs. When you meet someone and decide to share a life with them, you join and combine those goals, wants, needs, and possibly beliefs as you build your home. When you decide to start a family together, you and your partner also take on your children’s goals, wants, needs, and beliefs.
Families are like puzzle pieces. Each piece may look a little different. They may be different sizes, shapes, or patterns, but each piece fits perfectly together to form a larger picture. Each family member has their own roles and responsibilities, but you usually start each day and finish each day together as a family. Communicating is key, especially when multiple players are involved.
Here are 5 tips for effective family communication.
It can be easy to get your point across and speak your mind, but listening is just as important, if not more important. When you’re in a family, it’s important to feel like you’re being listened to, heard, and understood. The other members of your family are probably looking for the same type of courtesy and respect. Make sure that you’re actively listening to each member of the family. Yes, this even includes when you don’t agree with what they may be saying. Lean in, be engaged, and open your ears. You shouldn’t be thinking about what you will say next while the other person is talking. Give them your full and undivided attention.
2. Schedule Time with One Another
Each member of the family has their own schedule and routine. The parents may go to work from 9 to 5 each day, while the children may attend school or daycare. There also may be extracurricular activities or pets to tend to. It can be easy to get lost or caught up in your own day, especially during a work or school week. It’s incredibly important to make time for one another. Plan time each week to get together. That could involve eating a meal together or planning a fun activity in your town.
3. Be Open and Honest
Make sure you’re creating an open, honest, and welcoming environment for all members of your family. You want to make sure that each member of the family feels like they can truly express themselves, as well as their thoughts, emotions, and feelings. That includes asking difficult questions and validating their own opinions. This is a great way to teach your children how to communicate as well as practice listening better.
4. Don’t Play the Blame Game
When conflict arises, make sure you’re not playing the blame game. Every conversation you have as a family isn’t always going to be sunshine and rainbows. That’s okay and normal. Healthy conflict is a great way to strengthen your communication skills as well as your family as a whole. Make sure you’re mindful of the words and phrases you’re using. If you have an issue with something, try using “I” statements instead of “you” statements. This simple switch of a word can be the differentiating factor in whether the recipient of your message is welcoming or defensive about what you’re telling them.
5. Seek Additional Support
Communication can be challenging, but it’s essential in any type of working and healthy relationship. Sometimes you don’t always have it all figured out, and that’s okay too. Working with a licensed and trained mental health professional may be exactly what you and your family need in order to better communicate.