Monday, June 4, 2012

Family Communication

Understood or Misunderstood?

We learn to speak, read and write and this leads us to believe we know how to communicate. Why is it then that we so often experience misunderstandings, or being misunderstood? I feel that learning to communicate well is a lifelong process, at least it has been for me. It's easy to communicate with people who think like I
do, but everyone is a little (or a lot) different, so there are lots of opportunities for communication problems.

Thus begins a short series on Communication... but let me qualify that by saying that I'm not an expert. I can share some experiences and some techniques that have helped me, like I've done on my Communication page. So for the next few weeks the Mon/Tue Parenting Topics posts will be on Family Communication.

To begin with, lets think about all the things that have an influence on the way we communicate with others so we can see how widely our communication styles and expectations can vary.

  • Personality
  • Gender
  • Maturity or immaturity
  • Inherited traits
  • Inherited habits
  • Cultural norms & expectations
  • Past emotional wounds
Now think about how the list above affects what we do and say, or about how we say things, and how we do things. Here are some examples to think about:
  • Do you use a lot of words or only a few? 
  • Do you like to listen to long detailed explanations, or do you like brief & direct communication?
  • Do you listen carefully to others or find your own thoughts distracting?
  • How do you feel when someone interrupts you often?
  • Are you sensitive to other people's body language? How does it affect you?
  • Have you experienced cultural misunderstandings with people from other areas or countries?
  • Are their any painful experiences in your past that cause you to overreact when you hear certain words, phrases, or tones of voice?
We're just getting started here... the list can go on and on. I tend to be a very direct and brief communicator, in other words, I like to get to the point. However, points tend to be sharp and unfortunately for some people (or at certain times) direct and brief communication can be painful. At other times, direct and brief communication is very necessary whether someone likes it or not. The trick is to know how to communicate with different types of people, at different times, under various circumstances.

Diversity Within the Family

My husband and I are from different countries and it took some time to get used to the differences in our cultural expectations. My husbands family were not big communicators, but he likes to talk and joke a lot, not getting to the point too quickly. Our children are more varied than we are as not one of them communicates exactly the same way each of us do. So the family is our little diverse world to practice and expand our ability to communicate well, and lovingly, with others. 

I hope you will join me over the next few weeks to explore family communication more, and discover with me how we can build our communication skills. 

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