Family Matters

As we embark on a new year, and a new journey; it is more important now than ever to strengthen our families. We all could have better relationships with our parents, our children, siblings and other relatives. It takes a consistent daily effort to build stronger relationships. The biggest problem that exist is communication. The way we talk to one another, or don’t talk to one another contributes to the types of relationships we have. Here are some tips on fostering better communication in our families.

1. Listen to Understand, not reply.
Often times in a heated debate, we will listen not with our ears but with our mouths. We listen for keep points, waiting to rebuttal them. However, this is not the best way to start communication. Listen to what the other person is saying. Take into consideration their tone of voice and emotion. Are they angry? Sad? Happy? What words are they using? Profanity even? By paying attention to what is being said and how it is being said we can better understand where a person is coming from. And that leads to better communication.

2. Say what you mean, mean what you say
Secondly, its important to express yourself fully and clearly. When situations arise we want to address them immediately. But sometimes what we need to do is take a step back, and assess how we are truly feeling. Why am I upset? What do I feel I need to tell this person? What am I trying to say? Why do I feel the need to address them? Am I wrong in this situation? Looking at ourselves before diving into the argument head first gives us the chance to see what picture we are painting for the other person. It’s important to understand ourselves in the process of understanding others.

3. Say it. Don’t Scream it.
This one is hard. When we feel passionate or emotional about a certain subject or situation, we tend to show this by raising our voices, talking with our hands, and moving our hands. Its great to have passion in our discussions, however, be careful not to SCREAM! Screaming, yelling, and hollering at a person while trying to talk to them makes the communication process more difficult because you create a barrier of defensiveness. The other person immediately begins to feel attacked and will feel the need to respond back with only more screaming and yelling (which we know gets us nowhere). Try to maintain and even, leveled tone. And if they are screaming at you, speak at a whisper so that they have no choice but to lower their voice to hear you.

4. Come to an Agreement or Agree to Disagree
We wont always agree at the end a discussion. That’s when its smart to agree to disagree. It is quite alright to have opposing viewpoints with someone you love. That is what makes us individuals not enemies. Respect one another’s viewpoints in the matter and decide to move on. You’ll be surprised how much sweeter your relationships can become with just a little loving R.E.S.P.E.C.T.