3 Ways to Create Meaningful Conversations
Effective communication is the key to all relationships. Communication breakdowns result in relationship turmoil. Improving our communication with the people we care about, especially family, will lead to stronger, healthier, and more meaningful relationships.
Communication includes what we say, how we say it, and our body language. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Over 90% of our communication has nothing to do with our words but rather our voice, tone, and nonverbal body language. How we make people feel is critical to the success of our communication style.
It is important to develop good communication skills for both the positive and negative experiences we have in our relationships. We often avoid the difficult conversations, however, an essential part of creating strong, positive bonds in our family relationships is about being well equipped to handle difficult conversations.
Your goal is to adrenalize your family in developing effective communication skills with your children. These three steps will help develop trust, strong bonds, and positive experiences with your children:
- Practice “active listening” with your children.
As parents, we often find ourselves saying, “If you would just listen to me, things like this wouldn’t happen.” How often do you listen to what your children are saying? It is challenging to listen to your children. We often lose patience when we need to listen the most.
A Highlights.com survey of children ages 6 to 12 years old revealed that 62% felt that their parents were too distracted to listen to them. Are you too distracted to listen? How can we improve our listening skills to ensure that our kids know that they are being heard?
One skill that will improve your listening ability is called “active listening”. Active listening is essentially a skill where you repeat to your child what they have said in your own words. For example, its Sunday night and your child says, “Mommy, my stomach hurts.” Using active listening, you say, “I am sorry your tummy hurts, is there something happening at school tomorrow that you are worried about?”
Active listening will revolutionize your communication with your children and ensure they feel heard.
- Encourage your children to use “I feel” statements.
As a coach, I encounter many clients who have difficulty expressing how they feel. When this happens, I remind them of the 5 core feelings to help them express how they are feeling. Our 5 core feelings are sad, happy (or joy), afraid, angry, and sexual. When we express how we feel, it makes our statements unarguable.
To help your children express their feelings, use “I feel” statements. Use this great formula to teach your children ‘I feel” statements to clearly communicate their feelings:
“I feel (what is the feeling), when (the behavior displayed), because (state why you feel this way). What I want/need is (state the behavior you want to see happen).”
For example, “I feel angry when you go into my room and go through my things, because it makes me feel that you have invaded my privacy. What I need is for you to ask me directly what you need to know.”
When you practice this formula, you will better understand your child’s feelings and reduce arguments, build trust, and improve overall communication.
- Acknowledge your fears to tell the truth.
We often struggle with telling our children the truth, but how can we expect them to trust us and tell the truth if we aren’t truthful with them? Children are resilient and should be told the truth.
We usually lie to children when we don’t want to face the truth of our reality. As parents we understand more implications of what is involved in facing the truth. As adults our fears prevent us from sharing the truth.
Don’t let your fears negatively impact your relationship with your children. Fear is often a central theme to why we don’t say what we need to say. If you want to adrenalize your communication with your children, acknowledge your fear first, and then tell them the truth.
Adrenalize your communication with your children by following these three steps: practice active listening, help them express their feelings, and be truthful. These steps apply to any relationship, whether it be an intimate partner, sibling, parent, or friend. These three key ingredients will adrenalize all your relationships. Take the time to practice them and you will be successful. And remember, it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make someone feel that matters.
Tom Marino is a highly respected thought-leader, success strategist, speaker, and author. After a period of personal transformation, he founded Monarch Life Coaching, LLC to help high achievers navigate seasons of transition by recognizing the power of their choices. His book, Bridge to Change, documents the simple process of transformation that he believes catalyzes greater appreciation and enthusiasm in our lives. He is the host of The Adrenalized Life Podcast and the Tom Marino Radio Show. Tom works with people all over the U.S. to help them overcome burnout and live adrenalized. Contact him by visiting www.tommarino.com, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.