By Eryka T. Johnson
This past week, I posed a question to the community of women I share life with daily. I asked…”If you could change 1 thing in your relationship with your family, what would it be?” The response did not surprise me. Over 60% of the women wanted to change how their families communicate. Communication is not only essential to resolving conflict but it is the key to healthy family relationships. In this article, we will discuss 3 ways to improve communication with your family so you enjoy spending time with each other.
We communicate in this world in many different ways. Everything from using words to gestures to body language to signs to eye contact to silence, however, we will look at the importance of effective verbal communication in this article.
My family often struggled with communication.
Growing up as a young girl, we never spoke on family issues. If conflict arose, no one talked about it. Most of the times, we just continued living life trying our best to avoid the elephant in the room. However, when a discussion needed to happen, my mother did all the talking. Growing up in the South, parents raised their children to not speak rather listen. So, we did just that or suffered the consequences if we decided not to follow the rules.
The communication style I learned as a child spilled over to how I initially communicated with my family especially my spouse. For some time, I allowed him to talk at me when conflict arose because I found it difficult to make the transition from what came natural. Instead of engaging in a discussion, I remained quiet, took it all in, and many times cried because of the harsh language.
I rarely gave my perspective as he shared what seemed right to him based on his viewpoint.
But, I eventually built up enough strength and confidence to share life as I saw it. The moment I did, the communication and conflict began turning around in our relationship. It became easier to address issues and enjoy the company of each other.
Let me share 3 ways to improve communication with your family that helped me.
Know that you have the right to your own opinion and perspective. Just because you don’t agree with what someone else has said does not de-value your viewpoint. Your opinion is yours and your viewpoint is just as important as your family member. Settle this first in your mind.
Listen to gain understanding. Communication is about listening and speaking. When we listen, we need to process the words spoken in order to take on the perspective of the other person. We don’t just listen to figure out what we will say next. Try listening to see life through the eyes of the other person before you respond.
Speak in a normal tone. When we get angry, it often leads to heated discussions. These types of discussions result in hurtful language and harsh words. You cannot take back spoken words. Engage with your family in a pleasant manner. Insulting others verbally is immature. Do a self-check and determine how you would like others to speak to you. Then, do just that.
When facing conflict, use these 3 ways to improve communication with your family and watch how the dynamics of the family change. Expect more smiles, laughter, and love.
Do you have any secret communication tools that help with your family? Please share.
Eryka T. Johnson