Healthy Family Communication Skills

Getting along with family members can be a challenge. Each individual has a different personality and a unique way of looking at the world. Divergent views can clash and create a volatile dynamic within any household. Maintaining a spirit of cooperation requires an active commitment to quality communication. By encouraging effective communication skills and behaviors, you can forge a solid foundation for building a happier home.

Speak Directly

When speaking to family members, practice stating requests, ideas and intentions in a direct manner. Too often, people are hesitant to say what they really mean and instead voice their thoughts and concerns through implications, criticisms or statements disguised as questions. Leaving others to interpret what you intend to say breeds confusion, misunderstanding and unrealized expectations. This can be disastrous to the health of your family. Opt for clarity when speaking to others, removing doubt about what you mean. Families form stronger bonds when communication is authentic 1. Talking to each other openly creates an atmosphere of trust, an important element within a healthy family unit.

Family Meeting

Family meetings allow each person to be heard, and reinforce a solution-oriented approach to challenges. Good family meetings also demonstrate that, while every member of the clan has a voice, decisions are made with the total good of the group in mind. These gatherings allow children and adults to experience how choices affect others in the household. Meetings allow each person's opinion due consideration. The meeting place should not be a forum for condemning or criticizing members of the group. Keep conversations above board, centering around progress, not finger-pointing or manipulation. In an effective family meeting, parents and children make a unified effort to find conclusions that support each person benefiting from the interaction.

Mindful Listening

Listen mindfully without judgment, and without condemning others for how they feel. Each person must believe that her ideas will be accepted with reprisal. When another is speaking, pay full attention to what she is saying. Causing distractions while someone is talking is often perceived by the speaker as disregard for her as an individual. By demonstrating that the ideas of each family member are important, you encourage others to do the same.