The Importance of Family Communication: Learning to Open Up

Maintaining healthy family communication is now more important than ever because of our busy and dynamic lifestyles. A lack of communication can weaken your overall relationship with fellow family members, especially if you do not get along or have difficulty coping with certain disagreements. Taking time to talk over your current feelings with everyone is a big step toward forming a healthier family dynamic.

Find Time to Talk

With work, social events, and other day-to-day activities, your family may not necessarily notice any widening communication gaps. You’ll have to make an effort to establish opportunities for talking to everyone. It’s best to let your family know ahead of time that you would like to have a conversation at their convenience. For group discussions, schedule a time when everyone is mutually available, even if only for a brief period.

Be a Good Listener

Our first instinct is often to cut a conversation short when a person has an unfavorable opinion or is being unpleasant. Being an active listener and hearing others out, however, is crucial when establishing healthy, unbiased family communication.

If you’re not happy with your child’s grades, for example, calmly ask if there is a particular area where he needs additional help or tutoring. Do not raise your voice or express disappointment, actions which may keep him from communicating his problems to you in the future. Instead, remain open-minded and cordial as you listen to his explanation.

Think First

The urge to speak prematurely often intensifies during heated arguments, leading you to express opinions that are harsher than intended. In conjunction with your listening efforts, thinking before you speak allows you to offer more effective responses during any given situation. Additionally, choosing your words wisely and expressing them without anger sets a valuable example to those with less-developed communication skills, such as young children.

Take Genuine Interest

Showing empathy is a major step in enhancing family communication. Pay attention to the words and feelings conveyed, because this lets people know that you fully understand the situation and appreciate the opportunity to talk about it. Nod and make direct eye contact, too — people pick up on facial expressions and body language. You can also express your feelings with a hug or a gentle tap on the shoulder.

Be Specific

Problems cannot be resolved if a person isn’t able to grasp the situation’s severity. For example, if you feel you’re shouldering too much of the household burden, specify to your significant other or children which chores they can do. Perhaps someone can help out by doing the dishes on certain days or making the bed in the morning.

Sharing your feelings openly and appropriately means being a role model to one another, especially when there are children involved. In the end, family communication strengthens relationships and allows for a more fruitful, rewarding life together.

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