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Improving Family Communication: Family Rules (BYUtv)

Do you sometimes find that your family members don’t get along? Do feelings get hurt and arguments break out? I recently sat down with my old friend Brooke Walker to discuss some strategies to improve family communication on BYUtv’s show “Family Rules” (my segment starts at the 14:30 mark):

Listen More Than You Speak

This one is difficult since we all have a lot to say! I love Stephen Covey’s advice to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” What everyone craves is to be heard and validated, so try to listen with the intent to understand (not just give a response). Even parents need to stop lecturing and try to listen to their children instead.

Don’t Talk Over Each Other

It’s not easy, but try to avoid interrupting one another. In order for everyone to be heard, everyone must have an individual chance to express their thoughts and feelings. It may seem a little silly, but sometimes having an object to hold can help. For example, when someone has the “speaking spoon,” it’s their turn to have the floor and everyone else needs to listen!

Use “I” Messages and Feeling Words”

Avoid starting sentences using the word “you.” Saying “you always” or “you never” is not helpful and will only cause the other person to shut down. Instead, say something like “I feel sad when you don’t share with me.” No one can argue with someone’s emotional experience. Also, teaching children from an early age to identify and acknowledge their feelings is very important for their health and relationships. Start simple by teaching them words like “happy,” “sad,” “mad,” “scared,” and “surprised.”

Make Direct Requests

We can’t expect others to read our minds about what we want. Even for children, it’s your own responsibility to be assertive and ask what you are hoping to receive. I love the phrase, “it would mean a lot to me if ______.” This is kind, it is direct, but it is not controlling.

Click here to watch the interview!

About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.

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