We had a family communication specialist, Ugochi Samuel, on the Wivesroundtable radio show, and she took us through the process of how we can effectively communicate in the family.
Family communication according to Ugochi, is the exchange of information that takes place within the family cycle. Beyond that, we are looking at verbal and non-verbal communication, I.e. the way and manner with which people express their needs, wants , concerns and how each member of the family listens and tries to understand the concerns, needs and desires of other members of the family.
A huge percentage of issues that we have in the home are as a result of miscommunication, a lot is said that is not understood and a lot is misinterpreted. You hear people say they are tired of argument, what should be done in this case?
She said, the home is supposed to be a place where everyone should have freedom of expression, where people are permitted to have varying perspective to things, where we should tolerate varying perspectives that people have while trying to make this expression. Because communication is beyond just talking to someone, the person being spoken to is expected to listen. Many of us find it hard to listen, and this makes it hard to grasp all you are being told and interpret it in a way that the person would have loved you to. These varying perspectives contribute to why we have divergence in our understanding of people’s communication with us.
Here are the strategies to effectively communicate in the family.
1. Communication must be frequent. Communication is not something you do and just leave. Sometimes, people in a family do not live together for different reasons. If you keep communication till only when you see a person, you would be limiting the opportunities of getting to know the person as many times as possible. Families are encouraged to use the channels of communication available especially through technology. So that even when you are not seeing someone, you can still communicate with that person. We should keep talking to our family members whether they are present with us or far away from us. You get better at what you keep doing rather than what you quit.
2. Have family meetings. There should be times when you call your members together and ask; how are we doing? Give people room to express themselves. As the father of the house for instance, give room to everyone to tell you how they feel about you and how they feel about the things that go on in the family. Find out how your children are doing, you do not go to every place with them. Ask how your spouse is doing and how his/her day went. Do not assume that everything is fine without asking to find out.
3. Focus on creating peaceful with your family. Do not blow issues out of proportion. Be patient with yourself and with members of your family. Always try to see where the other person is coming from. Make it a habit to see things from the positive angle, it would save you unnecessary headache. Interpret things positively in your mind for your own peace of mind. For instance, it is in the nature of women to multiply situations and over think things. Therefore, it is way better to over think things in the positive direction rather than the negative. Focus on the strength of every individual in the family. Everyone has a weakness, but we can work on our weakness. Focusing on people’s weaknesses often make us misinterpret their intentions. It makes us take the negative from people’s opinion even when they meant something positive. Because we communicate in nonverbal ways as well, we sometimes find it difficult to understand because words are not spoken. In this case, what we need to do is to pay close attention to the person to get their message.
4. Pay close attention to people around you. This helps you because, It is not every time that people voice out what they are going through or what they think. Often times, we are in a hurry, we overtake what a person wants to say, and we start going to where they did not intend to.
These few strategies, when applied, can help improve our communication in the family. Effective communication is possible when we are intentional.