Ways to Foster Family Communication

Jul 06, 2009 No Comments by

Communication doesn't come easily for every family. Some families choose to demonstrate affection in nonverbal ways, while others rely on an ethic of stoicism and quiet support. Opening up the lines of communication can bring a measure of closeness and unity among family members, making the good times even better. Additionally, when challenges arise within the family unit–such as illness, disagreement, or chemical dependency–communication can become an avenue of change, healing and hope.

Simple Ways to Foster Family Communication

It's never too late to begin to improve communication within the family circle. Here are just a few ways to foster communication and closeness between family members.

  • Create Bonding Opportunities
    Bonds build with time spent together. Make a consistent effort to show up at family functions–even the small ones. Reach out to your family members when they encounter challenges, as your support will only draw you closer.
  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes
    Family members sometimes deny each other permission to be different. Allow family members to share personal philosophies and emotions. Learn to compromise and accept your family as they are, gaining greater empathy for their feelings and points of view.
  • Learn to Listen
    Half of healthy communication is listening to each other. Make sure to hear each other out and avoid interrupting. Try not to jump in with knee-jerk solutions, judgments or dismissals. Family members will approach conversation when they feel valued and safe.
  • Practice Patient Reactions
    So often, we let our anxiety lead us to quick, impulsive reactions within our families. Slow down to ensure positive communication. Speak in “I” statements (“I feel badly when I hear that.”) instead of “you” statements (“You always put me down!”). Give each other the benefit of the doubt and clarify any statements that you feel are confusing or potentially hurtful.
  • Speak the Truth in Love
    Practice truthfulness with kindness instead of moral superiority. Speak in straightforward language that inspires trust. Practice simple ways to share your true feelings and opinions, such as gathering for dessert after a matinee to swap reviews.
  • Maximize Small Moments

    Take advantage of everyday moments. Discuss the news over coffee in the morning, sharing opinions and viewpoints. Send a brief e-mail or make a five-minute phone call to exchange regular updates, no matter how mundane they might seem. Send each other short notes to communicate how much you care.

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