Overcoming Roadblocks to Family Communication # 7001

Name:_________________________________ Date:____________________________

Good communication skills are vital in a family that hopes to make decisions together, solve problems effectively, and promote a positive sense of well-being among family members. Use of sarcasm, ridicule, name calling, ignoring, making an annoyed face, looking incredulous, snickering, mocking, overgeneralizing, lecturing, not paying attention, interrupting, getting off the topic, ordering, hogging the conversation, threatening, laughing at, and making light of someone’s feelings are just a few of the many actions that could interfere with communication. Typically one person’s negative action leads to another person’s negative reaction and before you know it, an argument erupts, nobody listens to anyone, and positive communication breaks down.

With a good effort by everyone, people can begin to communicate with one another in more productive ways. The key is to show respect, patience, understanding, and compassion for one another. Criticism will always block effective communication. Often it is better to say less than more and to do so in a positive way. Below is a chart showing behaviors which encourage positive communication and those which cause communication breakdowns. Check the left-hand and right-hand columns to indicate skills you are good at and those you have a problem with.

Check if you're good at this
Check if you have a problem with this
Wait for the other person to finish speaking Interrupt
Make brief statements without judging Lecture, sermonize
Talk in a neutral voice Talk sarcastically
Make eye contact, acknowledge you Look away
Sit in a relaxed position Fidget, move around
Make brief statements, give others a chance to talk Hog the conversation
Take other people’s feeling seriously Discount feelings
Recognize other’s hurt, pain, anger Ignores feelings of others
Stay focused on one issue at a time Change the topic
Make tentative rather than absolute statements, deal with specifics Overgeneralize, catastrophize, exaggerate
Make suggestions not demands Give orders or commands
Speak to others in a respectful tone Call names
Stick with the current issue Dwell on the past
Stay calm and look for solutions Threaten
Express your feelings to others in an appreciative way Keep feelings inside
Talk in a neutral voice Yell or scream

Adapted from Put Yourself in Their Shoes by Parker. Specialty Press, Inc. All rights reserved. This form may be copied for use in your practice.