A number of you wrote in asking for more workable ways to communicate with family to help keep things working well in the household. This is what we do best. Thank you all for this question!
More often than not, the problem with communication is that you are getting in your own way and unknowingly sabotaging yourself. Step 1 is going to be, as always, to slow down! Understand your intent before you open your mouth.
Over the years, we have developed a list you can use to slow yourself down, ask yourself the right questions, and get at the heart of what you want to say and how you want to say it. Use this list the next time you're going to have an important conversation and see if you bring yourself to it differently. (Hot tip: Do not measure, weigh, and evaluate how the other communicates. Especially with family members. It is YOUR job to communicate effectively and produce your intended results, not theirs).
Ask yourself: Is my communication Open, Honest, Complete, Responsible, and Timely?
- Open - How willing am I to reveal what I really think and want? Am I willing to hear something contrary to my opinion, belief, etc.? Catch yourself if you are frequently wanting to interrupt or are interrupting the other. You may need to repeatedly remind yourself to listen.
- Honest - Am I telling my truth to the best of my present knowledge? Notice if you are sharing a partial truth or trying to manipulate the other.
- Complete - Am I withholding relevant information? If so, why? Consider your intent for the relationship as a whole in addition to the specific conversation at hand. Are you willing to reveal why something is important to you? Sometimes, when we are concerned we’ll be met with opposition, we leave our hearts out of the conversation and rely only on our intellect.
- Responsible - Am I blaming anyone for anything? Notice any sentences that start with, "You made me…" or anything in the realm of "if only you would change, then everything would be fine." Turn your insightful mind on yourself and investigate the way you participate, create, and somehow keep in place the condition you are upset about.
- Timely - With regard to whatever it is that you have to say, is this the right time or the best time to be saying it? Catch yourself procrastinating and/or sharing important information at inopportune times (e.g. as the other is running out the door, over a text message, etc.).
Take these five questions with you the next time you have a challenging thing to communicate or you imagine that a situation will get heated or unpleasant. These are just the very, very start of a foundation to build on.
If you want a more comprehensive approach, we’ve got you covered. We have an online course called The Communication Series. In this program we help you look at all five of these dynamics and how mastering them can make your life and relationships reflect what you know is possible. Set-up a time to speak with us by clicking below to learn more about the course.
The Workability Team