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Have you ever spoken with an older couple about the success of their marriage, or a CEO about his or her company? While there will be many answers, one consistent is usually this: strong communication. We are spending much more time around family right not, and I think it would be wise to look at how we communicate. And how we can improve it. Most arguments can be traced to poor communication after all!
If something is bothering you, ask yourself if it is the right time to have a conversation. If you feel like exploding, take a time out and wait before you address the person you wish to talk to. Similarly, ask them if they are ready to talk about the topic you wish to discuss before you begin. The simple act of respecting someone else goes a long way.
Attacking shows immaturity and can be seen as a form of bullying. Instead of placing blame or “othering,” tell them how their behavior makes you feel. Focus on your own feelings and motivations. Remember when talking with loved ones, it is you and them against the problem, not you versus them.
When you are communicating with someone, make sure to face them and avoid distractions. Put your phone down, turn off the TV, stop doing the dishes- give your full attention. This shows you are making them a priority and that the conversation is important to you. Remember, if you don’t feel like having the conversation at that precise moment, ask if you can do it later. Don’t brush them off, set up a time to continue the conversation.
Often, we want to be heard and we are waiting for our time to talk. Instead, listen. When it is your time to talk, respond by saying: “What I hear you saying is ….” and then repeat what they have just said. This allows you to make sure you have heard what they are trying to communicate accurately. Ask for clarification before moving onto your rebuttal. Patience and humility are key parts of communication.
A sincere apology goes a long way. On top of that, if you begin arguing ask if it matters. Sometimes we argue to be right and not to do what is right. If you feel like you are arguing to be right, apologize and drop the subject. Not everything needs to be discussed to the ends of the Earth.
While we self-isolate with our families, remember you are a team and you want to work together to find solutions. Be patient and listen when others want to talk with you. Remember that it is okay to ask to discuss something at another time and, when that time arrives, be present.