Incorporate these communication skills to get more support and increase calm
“I’ve asked for help a million times, but no-one listens!”
“Why do I have to do everything, all the time?”
“I have to do it. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
Recognize any of these thoughts or angry outbursts shouted from the top of Laundry Mountain?
Do you feel like Sisyphus pushing an impossible workload up a hill, with no relief?
Communication for calm
Everyone’s heard why being a great communicator is essential in work, for productivity, clarity, and results. Guess what? There’s no difference between work and family life in this way.
Knowing how to communicate inside your family unit increases calm in a handful of ways.
- Allowing people to express their thoughts and feelings helps you understand their perspectives. More understanding leads to less resentment, a.k.a., more calm.
- Listening effectively to others helps you find solutions to conflicts and problems more quickly, decreasing fighting in your home.
- Clear and compassionate communication prevents misunderstandings and miscommunications, which minimizes unnecessary stress and tension.
- Good communication can build trust and establish positive relationships, both of which contribute to a sense of calm for all.
Communication tip #1: Ask questions
Too many times, especially when we’re in a tornado of activity blustering from one task to the next, we don’t stop to understand the motivations or reasons for what’s happening around us.
For example, I thrive on being a busy bee and scheduling lots of activities. My husband Kyle prefers to spend time with just us to unwind after traveling and being “on” all week.
One time I scheduled a double family date in the park, and I sent him a note about it. This made him upset, and I didn’t understand why. I could have kept my ego front and center and assumed he was being antisocial or not supportive of my need for community, but instead, I stepped back, checked my ego at the door, and asked questions.
Turns out Kyle himself wasn’t aware at the moment of why my plan-making bothered him. But by me asking questions thoughtfully (not angrily), we discovered that it wasn’t about the event itself at all, it was about a pattern I had of making plans for us without including him.
Example questions to ask
“How do you feel about this?”
“Why do you think you reacted that way?”
“What can I do to help?”
“How did my actions or words affect you?”
“What did you mean by XYZ?”
“What does that make you think of?”
“What do you want to do about it?”
Even if you don’t agree with their answers, by asking questions you build a strong bond. They will feel heard and understood, which turns tension down and calm up. Asking questions shows you’re listening and digesting and you care to know more.
Asking thoughtful questions doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor that requires tons of energy and effort. Just put on your curious hat! Ask why before assuming.
Asking works on kids, too
Asking questions also works with children! When your kids complain or tell you something, instead of giving them your advice and thoughts, ask them about theirs. Wait for them to ask for your opinion.
Bonus communication tip: When your partner or kids start venting to you, clarify how they want you to be there for them. “Do you want me to hold space for your feelings? Do you want me to listen to provide advice? Do you want me to listen and ask questions to help you think through this? Do you just want to be heard?”
Communication tip #2: Be direct and specific
Being able to express yourself clearly and assertively will help you set boundaries and assert your needs, which reduces feelings of anxiety and helplessness.
Avoid going into martyr mode, sighing loudly while slamming cabinets, and expecting someone to jump in and help you make dinner. Or dropping the laundry basket with a louder-than-necessary thud.
Just like at work with your team, be specific about your request and what great result it will lead to. “Michael, I know everyone is starving, and I am trying to cook as quickly as possible. If you could help me by getting these ingredients out of the fridge, it would help me so much.”
In a nutshell
Expressing yourself clearly, asking questions to actively understand others, and listening with compassion and curiosity are all good communication skills that help reduce tension, build trust, and foster positive relationships, all of which benefit you in getting the support you need long-term. The ability to communicate well is a critical factor in creating a peaceful and harmonious environment.
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Absolutely loved the communication tips, Jenna! Leaning in with curiosity and speaking with compassion ftw!!