Thoughtful Thursday – Listen

slc_garden_by_habbrockThe past few weeks I’ve been talking about families. This week I’m going to shift gears a little bit and talk about communication, which applies to families and others. The communication dynamics we are raised with are the ones that we take into our lives as adults. I’m ashamed to say that I, as a parent did not teach my children well how to communicate properly. However, I did not really learn how to communicate correctly until I was in my forties. It makes a big difference when we learn and what we learn growing up. Each of us learn by example unless we are taught something different. In our house communication was mostly confrontational or silence. Take your pick…and it was the same as an adult, only I was silent. If it was possible, I went out of my way to avoid confrontation. It made me uncomfortable and vulnerable, feelings that I didn’t like at all. All of that I learned later was based on earlier events that had happened in my life. The one and only time that I tried to stand up for myself I ended up getting my face slapped and yelled at, of course it was probably because I used the word “damn
” at my grandmother. The only consolation was that my grandfather stood up for me. I was about 10 at the time and went in and packed everything in paper bags because I was going to run away from home. Obviously I didn’t go, mainly because it was too hard to carry all of those stupid paper bags, and I was too scared of the world to actually go. Today I see the same patterns of communication that I did in my home growing up and as an adult. Those same beings live here, you know them…not me, I don’t know, he made me, she made me, not my turn, not my fault, etc. Then the response ends up being a yelling match which ends up making no progress at all. So, is there a solution? Yes, believe it or not there is but it will take a little time and effort for everyone. The solution is referred to as “I messages.” What is an “I message” you ask? It’s really quite simple actually. Instead of saying, “you make me so mad,” because really no one can make you mad, you choose to be that way, you say instead, “when you do that, this is how it makes me feel.” When someone comes home and appears to be upset instead of saying, “you look upset,” you would say, ” it appears to me that you are upset.” Rather than putting your feelings on them, you are giving them a chance to tell you how they actually feel. In other words, quit blaming the other person for how you are reacting. Own your feelings, instead of you, you, you…try I for a change. This is how I feel when you do this or this. Let them know how YOU feel. You will be surprised how the lines of communication will open up. Instead of yelling and screaming, you can develop conversations, resolve issues and improve relationships. Is it going to happen overnight? No, it won’t. It is going to take time and practice. One of the biggest things is in the heat of the moment, bite your tongue and wait until you have calmed down before you say anything. Going off on anyone at the spur of the moment is not only unhealthy for you, but for any relationship. If you value your family and your relationships with them, take the time to learn together to communicate in a more healthy, effective way. It really works and can save many relationships. Remember, you have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk.
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