Communication is a process through which we share information, thoughts, and feelings and it can be achieved through writing, body language, or speaking. In order for a communication to be effective, the content which is being transmitted needs to be received and properly understood by the communicators in the way it was intended. When a communication is successful, it leads to the creation of a common perception, changes in behavior, and acquired information. But, often, people experience a variety of issues due to lack of proper communication.
The Elements of Communication
A successful communication starts with encoding or the ability to relay a message clearly and directly so that the other communicator can decode the message. Decoding is also a skill which requires from a communicator to ensure that he/she has heard and understood the message. To increase the chances for encoding a message, it is pivotal to know your audience and to actively listen.
The Advantages of Proper Communication among Family Members
When communication between family members is a quality one and based on trust, listening, and understanding, it can significantly improve their relationships. Without doubt, proper communication in a family keeps the members open to sharing their feelings and thoughts, teaches parents how to learn the meaning of the child’s expressions, and promotes the feeling of safety, comfort, and security.
According to Our Everyday Life, communication plays a vital role in the health and well-being of all family members. When they are encouraged and feel free to speak their mind without any fear of being treated lightly or any other restraints, the chance for raising children with good self-esteem and physical health is much higher. Furthermore, in order for a marriage to be successful, both sides need to learn how to hear each other without turning on their defensive mode.
On the other hand, staying away from expressing one’s difference of opinion may be problematic for everyone, especially for children, and it can impede their productive abilities to respond to the inevitable stress that comes with life. What’s more, there are cases when children act out in different ways when they lack attention from their parents; however, when parents and siblings provide a solid communication, the need for such tactics in the child is unnecessary, Kay Ireland asserts.
In addition, healthy communication at home will remain with children throughout their lives and it will enhance their listening capacity and expressive skills, make them less judgmental and more emphatic, and teach them the right vocabularies for different situations.
How to Be a Good Communicator with Your Children?
- Learn how to be a good listener
A parent who listens to their child helps the child feel appreciated and loved. Make sure that as a parent, you always ask how your child feels about a specific subject and ask for repetition whenever you are unable to understand him/her. Remember, this does not mean that you need to always agree with what they are saying in order to effectively listen. A child, as noted on Healthy Children, who is encouraged to share thoughts, emotions, and feelings with their parents is much calmer and a better listener than the one who is not.
- Be an exemplary role model
As pointed out on Healthy Children, children learn from our examples; so, a parent needs to use appropriate words, tones, and voice in a way they want their child to use. You should always be clear in the directions and messages you send across and make time to describe your feelings so that your little one can be better in doing that as well. Screaming and name calling and other negative ways of communication are never a good idea.
- Show empathy
Empathy or the understanding of how the other one feels is a decisive element of healthy communication, especially among family members. For example, when your child is upset or sad, a hug or a touch can show them that you empathize and more importantly, as pointed out on Healthy Children, do not tell the child what he/she thinks or feels, but let them express that and always show respect because what we feel is real to us.
- Make time for talking
Regardless of how busy you may be, you need to spare at least 10 minutes of your day to talk with your children and work on developing both the child’s and your communication skills. Put away any distractions, sit down, look them in the eyes, and listen to what they have to share.
- Family meals
Having lunch or dinner with the whole family as often as possible will contribute to the creation of a ritual and a routine to which the kids will look forward to. As noted on Everyday Health, this family time can be used as an opportunity for family members to catch up and communicate more and better.
- Create your own family traditions
Similarly to family lunches or dinners, following family traditions like having a night reserved for movies, reading a book to your child before bed, holiday treats, specific places to travel to, etc. is something that family members await and appreciate because it is something they share together and these moments should be used for bonding and talking about a variety of topics, as emphasized on Everyday Health.
- Non-verbal communication matters
According to Beth Ricci from Red & Honey, estimates show that 10 percent of our communication originates from words whereas the remaining 90 percent are attributed to non-verbal expressions. Sometimes, when one’s verbal and non-verbal expressions are not aligned, it can lead to mixed messages. The main elements of non-verbal communication are physical distance, tone of voice, body orientation, gestures, posture, and facial expressions. This being said, while communicating with your child or spouse, face him/her and allow your emotions to be shown by your facial expressions and to match your tone of voice. Though some of these things are done subconsciously, when we use them by design, they can convey a great deal of information, Ricci denotes.
- Ask stimulating questions
In addition to actively listening, you should also ask questions and thus, contribute to a deeper connection. Often times, with family members who tend to skip family gatherings and are not so open, it can be effective to ask questions about their life and their interests in order to show thoughtfulness and help them better their communication skills.
Final Thoughts of the Importance of Communication
Without doubt, quality communication is a vital part of our human relationships and since reading minds is not possible, every one of us needs to be able and willing to manifest their desires, experiences, and needs. Concerning communication between family members, whether between a parent and a child or between spouses, it can occasionally be problematic as a result of focusing on learned roles and behaviors from the past and lead to poor communication, misunderstanding, conflicts, dissatisfaction, fear, low self-esteem, lack of guidance, and a higher risk of children doing dangerous activities, as explained on Live Strong. Therefore, learning the importance of communicating adequately is one of the major steps towards improvement in your overall quality of life. Make sure you start today!