Every day, communication is essential not only to share ideas, and socialize, but to help us strengthen relationships through the ability to share our experiences and needs, as well as helping us to connect to people. Humans are social creatures who build closeness and a sense of being part of something larger than ourselves. It’s the essence of life, allowing us to express feelings, pass on information and share thoughts.
In family structures we often feel comfortable and that means we aren’t always on our best behavior. We may feel more entitled to act out or behave in ways to others we would never consider outside of our home. It’s not always easy to put our feelings into words and communicate clearly. In fact, many people would say it’s an art form or even a gift. However, with focus and patience you can improve communication in your family, which not only benefits you but everyone around you.
The Importance of Communication
It’s amazing what can change when our feelings are heard and acknowledged. When we feel heard and understood, generally, we are less angry, stressed, and more open to resolving problems. In family structures this can be hard to change as old habits and family dynamics can create stagnancy in growth. This can impact trust and caring for the people who are closest to you, so it’s important to examine your communication methods and identify what you could do better.
What is Healthy Communication?
This can feel elusive at times but in truth it’s simple with practice. Focus on making your message clear, so that the person you are speaking to understands it accurately. Center your point around what is happening and how it affects you as well as clearly stating what you want, need, and feel. To do this using ‘I’ statements such as ‘I need’, ‘I want’ and ‘I feel’ accept responsibility for your own feelings and help the other person not feel as responsible for them. Do your best to take deep breaths and leave frustration and aggression behind for effective communication which won’t cause defensiveness.
Barriers to Healthy Communication
Many things can get in the way of good communication including:
Assumptions: it’s far too easy to make the mistake that you assume what the other person is feeling or thinking. We can only truly understand the world from our perspective, but empathy is essential in understanding where other people are coming from. If you aren’t sure how they are feeling, just ask them—and be sure to listen.
Focus: It’s common for people to focus on what they want to say next rather than listening. Communication is a two-way activity, so pay attention and take a moment before you respond.
Changing the subject: This can derail healthy communication and displays that you aren’t truly committed to what the other person is saying.
Assumptions: It’s common to assume we know what is right for others and try to convince them of this. This is the reverse of empathy and can feel isolating and discouraging for the other person.
Addressing Hearing Loss
Often a person will suffer from hearing loss, affecting conversation in your family and not even realize it’s an issue. This is because hearing loss often develops slowly over many years allowing the brain to rationalize the loss. The brain is deprived of certain sounds and tones which leaves blanks in words and sentences. This can be a major inhibitor of communication, which if unaddressed can lead to rifts in family relationships and devastate family dynamics.
It’s far easier to spot a hearing loss in your loved one than for them to self diagnose it. If you do notice that your loved one seems to ask you to repeat words or sentences frequently, or needs the TV turned up louder than anyone else in the room, you may want to find a quiet time to suggest they have their hearing checked.
Addressing a Hearing Loss
While hearing loss is a permanent condition, it can be treated effectively with hearing aids. These tiny electronic devices amplify the sounds you need to hear, based on a hearing exam, while leaving the rest of the sounds to be perceived by your existing hearing. With hearing aids you can improve communication, giving you and the entire family the chance to start communicating with added intention and clarity. Communicating well takes practice and effort. With hearing aids it gives the whole family a chance to truly get it right. The first step is contacting us to set up your loved one’s next hearing exam. Contact us today!