What if communicating with your family could be a lot easier? What if it wasn’t hard to get your kids to listen? Or to share their lives with you? Successful relationships and parenting begin with your Sense of Self. And once you’re aware of what makes you tick and/or why your ticked-off, you’re more inclined to communicate compassionately.
But before we get into what an emotionally intelligent family looks like, here’s what emotional intelligence is not:
- Stuffing or denying your emotions instead of expressing them
- Ignoring behavior so you don’t have to explain how you feel
- Expressing anger with a dramatic tantrum
- Noticing a negative emotion . . . then dismissing it
- Telling someone how they feel
- Telling someone to feel a different way
Here’s How to Have Compassionate Communication at Home.
1. Understand your emotions around the issue.
Maybe your wife keeps leaving dirty dishes in the sink, and you’re frustrated. But is there more to it than that? Does the action leave you feeling neglected on an emotional level, beyond the minor annoyance of the physical dishes? During this emotional digging, you may find that you feel deeply disrespected by your daughter when she doesn’t do her chores, or unappreciated by your wife. If you’re aware of the deeper meaning, you can ask yourself what it is you would like from the other person.
2. Have the outcome in mind.
Are you starting a conversation with your daughter with a goal of getting her to clean her room? Are you talking to your husband about the dishes really because you’re seeking a connection? Ask yourself if you’re truly “seeing” your family. Are you emotionally available for them or are you busying yourself with living your own story?
Are you so focused on getting the results you’re after that you have a hard time tolerating any obstacles in your way? Once you unravel the emotional onion within, your path becomes clearer . . . and you can forgive the little things in order to address the real issue.
3. Come from a place of love!
Before you communicate, check in with yourself once more to make sure you’re coming from a place of love. It’s O.K. to feel frustrated, hurt, or angry . . . but bring your awareness to how much you love the person. Keep this awareness while you explain how you’re feeling, and it will be received much better.
4. Listen, listen, listen.
Much miscommunication can be directed back to the fact that most of us aren’t always listening 100%. Have you ever heard someone talking, but missed what they were saying because you were planning your response? (Don’t worry, that’s normal). Next time you’re having a difficult discussion, really focus on putting yourself in the other person’s experience. Notice how what you say lands with them and what message they’re communicating . . . verbally and nonverbally.
5. Seek to understand.
Instead of trying to be right, prove a point, or make someone feel bad, try to understand what’s going on—especially if you’ve found yourself repeating yourself with your children. If you focus on figuring out what the issue really is, you’ll have a much better chance of changing it.
6. Ask permission before delivering negative feedback.
If someone is behaving badly, you’re well within your rights to address it. You may be annoyed that your son keeps forgetting to take out the trash. You could tell him how disappointed you are, or how irresponsible he is . . . but how has that approach worked in the past?
You’ll get much better results if you approach it this way: “Are you open to some feedback?” Wait for a yes, then: “I would really appreciate it if we could be more of a team around the house. Can I count on you to take the trash out on Thursday nights?” Doesn’t that sound a million times better than: “You forgot to take the trash out AGAIN! I feel like I do everything around here.”
The correct approach is a gentle request for assistance, and an honest reflection of their behavior. When you ask permission, you’ll be surprised how well someone will respond, even if you’re telling them they’ve been irresponsible.
This may all sound easy . . . but in reality effective communication in the home takes a lot of practice, so don’t get discouraged! It takes a huge amount of soul searching to become an emotionally intelligent, compassionate communicator.
You have to dive down deep to discover what you’re searching for . . . first by looking within yourself. So even if the other person reacts badly to your transformed communication style, remember that you love them, and keep your cool while explaining your emotions and requests.
Curious about your communication style and emotional intelligence?
Take this quiz to check in with your Sense of Self!
Author: Kate Franzese