When communicating with our spouse and other family members, we might assume it should be easy because we spend so much time with them. However, we can be surprised when our family misunderstands us. Blaming the other person is tempting, but the problem often begins with us. It may be challenging to enhance communication, but being aware of our behaviour can help us communicate better with family.
Not fully listening
If we’re not careful, we can easily find ourselves inattentively listening to others. We might be looking at our phones, watching television, or daydreaming about something else. But when we don’t actively listen to the person we’re speaking to, we risk making them feel invalidated. We also miss important nonverbal cues and might not fully understand their message. We need to take the time to listen and confirm that we’ve understood them correctly.
Reacting out of emotion
If we react to our emotions instead of responding, we might say things we don’t mean. We form our earliest and strongest emotional memories in our home. Those memories can keep appearing later on in life. It’s essential to take some time to let the strong emotions settle before we respond. A good communicator will let the feelings sit for a while and respond carefully rather than reacting impulsively.
Avoiding difficult conversations
During a difficult conversation, many people choose to avoid or prolong the conversation as long as possible. People usually perceive a conversation as difficult when they are telling someone something that the person doesn’t want to hear. Withholding information can create distance between you and the other person. An effective communicator remains open and honest to address issues as soon as they arise rather than avoiding or prolonging essential discussions. Take time to consider the message you want to get across to them and then communicate it directly using “I statements.” When we use “I” statements, we take ownership of how we feel and are less likely to make the other person feel attacked.
If you need help communicating with your family, a therapist will be happy to help. For more information, call 905-799-2228 or fill out the form, and a service coordinator will reach you shortly.