Effective communication is an essential skill to develop in order to have a healthy family relationship. Communication is just that – a skill that can be developed. So, if your relationship with your family is not at the level that you would like for it to be, do not get frustrated or give up!
You can exercise and develop the muscle of effective communication just as you would exercise and develop any other muscle. In order to be physically healthy, you would need to exercise your entire physical body. In the same way, in order to be relationally healthy, effective communication will also require you to exercise your entire body.
YOUR EARS. Good communication is dependent upon your ability to listen. Hearing is different than listening. Being able to hear does not mean that you have developed the ability to listen. You may be able to hear what a person is saying without really listening and allowing what that person is saying to have an impact on your understanding of that person’s experience. For this reason, it is often that parents may exclaim in frustration to their children, “You are not listening!” The problem is not that the children cannot hear their parents; the problem is that the children are not listening. Hearing is passive. Listening is active, and therefore requires action. As you listen to the people in your life, remember to ask yourself, “What action should I take based on what I hear this person say?”
YOUR TONGUE. It has been said that the “power of life and death is in the tongue.” While the tongue may be one of the smallest parts of the body, this tiny muscle truly does have the power to change a person’s life – for better or for worse. Before using your tongue, always remember to THINK:
YOUR EYES. What can be said about the eyes? In the ugliest of times, the eyes are always a source of beauty. They are said to be the window into a person’s soul. They produce the power of sight. However, with this power comes great responsibility. The simple courtesy of looking someone in the eye when addressing them or while listening to them is a gesture that should not be taken lightly.
YOUR HEART. Honesty is important not only for yourself, but for effective communication with a loved one. Speak from the heart. Listen from the heart. Love from the heart. Any communication offered or received in honesty and in love will make a difference in your relationship.
As with any exercise routine, it is important to remember that consistency is key. The greatest gift you can give to the people in your life is to consistently communicate your love and gratitude to each of them. What is one way that you can say, “I love you,” with your ears, with your tongue, with your eyes and with your heart today?