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Strengthening Families: Better Communication Through Better Listening

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Communication is a vital part of successful family life. Positive and effective communication will help your family save time by clarifying information and helping family members avoid conflict and misunderstandings. It also helps family members feel understood. Not to be forgotten, effective communication among family members creates an environment where everyone feels safe to express themselves, their thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

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When we think of communication, we often think about the talking part. But one of the best ways to effectively communicate in our homes is to focus on listening more than talking.

Improve Family Listening Skills: Better Communication Through Better Listening

Here are 5 tips to help family members improve their listening skills. And in turn, their communication skills.

1. Be Interested

Showing you're interested in what a family member is saying is a key step to listening. Look them in the eyes, nod your head, and provide encouraging feedback with small comments like "yes", "I see", and "uh-huh."

2. Stay Focused

Put down your phone, turn off technology, and try to contain the daydreaming. There are so many things that we have running through our minds, it is easy to let them distract us and keep us from listening. Especially when we are listening to our children. When we are having trouble focusing, a good tip is to think of the other person. Put ourselves in their shoes and ask ourselves what they must be thinking as they talk. Are they excited, hurt, scared nervous? Seeing their perspective will help us focus on them. We can also repeat the words they are saying to us in our minds to help us focus.

3. Don't Judge

Effective listeners do not judge what they are hearing, or the person talking. This doesn't mean we have to like what is being said, or agree with it. But we do need to set aside our blame, criticism, and judgement so we can more fully understand their point of view and see their perspective.

4. Don't Interrupt

This means we don't interrupt with opinions or judgements while our family members are talking. We don't interrupt or sway the conversation a different direction with "One time that happened to me" stories. And we realize that listening doesn't mean waiting for your turn to talk. If we are constantly planning what we are going to say next, we can't concentrate on what they are really saying.

5. Let Go of the Agenda

Communicating with an agenda encompasses all of the points above, and is not an effective way to communicate. Coming into a conversation with predetermined ways of acting and responding will put us in a position where we are already closed off to others' thoughts, feelings, and interests. Let go of the planned dialogue and "must-make points" so you can actually hear what is being said.

Want to strengthen your family's communication? Take a few minutes to work on your listening skills.

Covey Quote Printable

Covey Quote

To download the Covey Quote Printable, click here.

To access all of the Super Hero Family eBooks, including the Communication eBook, click here.

Heather Johnson Heather Johnson, M.S., teaches students the principles behind successful families at Brigham Young University. You can find her online at FamilyVolley.com, and connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.
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