06 July 2015

Better ways to communicate

I was very lucky. My parents taught us quickly how to get our emotions under control when speaking to each other when we were upset. They simply would shut us off if we started to yell or shout. They would say, "there is nothing that you can't say to me in a calm voice than you can say while shouting". Don't misunderstand me, my parents were always very supportive, warm and loving, and we shared laughter and tears, but when it came to talking, we always kept a controlled conversation, which has also handed down the family rule of “never go to bad mad”. You can agree to disagree, but don’t go to bed mad.

Most of our "yelling" periods were when we were younger, i.e "You never let me stay out at late as the other kids - I hate you" - never mind that the other kids were older. Regardless, it really helped train me to stop and think before I ranted and raved. Taking a pause to think before you speak is also an affective way to stop yourself from saying something in a moment of anger that you will regret later, or will lead into another fight.

Adults who never learned this control are also as guilty as their children of letting fights get out of control. It pains me to hear a parent says their children are suffering at school from having fights, and then have them sharply yell at their child in front of me. I totally understand the pressure and frustration but it comes back to simply, "there is nothing you can't say in a calm voice instead of shouting`'.

If you struggle with communicating with your spouse or children, try to have a fair mediator with you when speaking about sensitive topics. Always make sure you start your meeting with a positive statement about the other person without a "but" in it. Just a sincerely heartfelt compliment.

Express your view from your own worries and concerns, because sometimes understanding the fears we have for our loved ones, are really our own personal fears that we are extending to them.

Be honest. There is no point in saying one thing and then reversing it later. That only creates dishonestly and confusion.

Do not use other people’s lives as examples. Focus on only your situation.

Strive to reach a win/win solution or compromise. If you agree to do something - do it.

Meet a week later to review how it is going or how to improve what you have agreed. Give praise when it is deserved.

Remember it is better to communicate coming from a loving, understanding approach vs. built up anger and yelling.

Lastly, never go to be mad. Rest well – things are always better if you had a good nights sleep and didn’t go to bed mad.

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