Ah, family. The people who know you the best and love you the most are the same people that can drive you crazy.
How well do you navigate your family’s (sometimes-complicated) dynamics? How do you ensure successful, supportive relationships?
There’s no “silver bullet” to creating a fulfilling family environment; it takes good communication skills, perspective, consistency, and a willingness to modify your own actions and behaviors. In this-four-part series, you will learn how to express yourself, actively listen to another person, actualize the benefits of family time, and foster the family “team” spirit.
Let’s jump right into the most important aspect of a well-adjusted family
communication skills, what does this mean?
1. A two-way, non-confrontational conversation. Remember that you’re having a discussion to find solutions.
2. Find the right time to talk. If one of you is tired, or hungry, or distracted, it can cause opposition, leading to a “we tried talking; it didn’t work” sense of failure.
3. Use active listening. It’s human nature to think about the next thing you want to say. But that just means that you aren’t really listening to what’s being said. Forget about what you’ll say the next time it’s your turn to speak; pay attention to the words and the feelings coming from the other person.
4. Be aware of your words. Use “I” statements to share your feelings; “you” statements infer blame. Speaking of blame…
5. Don’t fall into the he said/she said trap. All too often, we focus on what someone has done “wrong,” rather than on how those actions impact us as individuals. When you make accusations, the other party becomes defensive, then offensive, leading you to do the same. From there, tensions heighten, voices raise, and tempers flare. So…
6. Don’t default to yelling, shouting, threatening, or demanding. The moment you do, walls are erected and communication shuts down.
7. Ask rather than tell. Do you like being told what to do? I didn’t think so. No one does.
8. You are part of a team. Your family unit isn’t going away (though sometimes you wish they would!). Remember that you it takes every player on a team to score a goal and win a game. You’re making this Journey Path to Wellness together.
Recently, Nora* came to me with mounting frustration on her part. She had a figurative ton of work on her plate: cooking; cleaning; laundry; career; and taking care of the kids. Her husband’s job kept him on the road and away from home from Monday through Thursday, every week. Nora was in a constant state of anxiety as she lumbered and struggled to complete all of the tasks that needed to be done.
Each weekend, Nora hoped that her husband would offer to help her and tackle some of the household work. When her husband exhaustedly came home from his business trips, however, he just wanted to relax and enjoy the limited time he had with his family. That meant that Nora spent extra time cooking, extra time cleaning, and extra time doing the laundry. She was exhausted, frustrated, and angry.
How did this family cross the divide?
Using the eight steps above, Nora and I sat down together and created a plan. First, she wrote down everything that she did around the house and everything that she needed her husband to take care of. She scheduled a time when the two of them would be alone and could have a conversation without being pulled in several different directions.
Nora explained how she felt overwhelmed with everything it took to take care of the house, the kids, and her career. She outlined how his “relaxation and family time” plans impacted her and how she needed his help. Then, she gave him options and asked what he could accomplish while he was home. At the same time, Nora was open to hearing why her husband relished just “hanging out” when he came home.
After a few weeks, Nora’s burden lessened. Though she still had a lot on her plate, she was able to identify what she needed from her husband, communicate it clearly, and make time for both of them to spend time with their family. Her husband understood his wife’s feelings, was able to contribute to the household, and hired out some of the work to ensure a more harmonious relationship.
How do you handle the family communication blame game? Let us know in the comments below!
Are you ready to take your family communication skills to the next level? Schedule your FREE coaching consultation today!
* Not her real name