Do you consider your family to be a victim of an unhealthy communication system? Are your weekend family gatherings characterised with conflicting opinions and arguments at the dining table? Do you feel there is a lack of active hearing when you try to communicate with a family member?

If you are responding positively to all the questions then your family is suffering from the presence of an ineffective communication system. Families that have a healthy communication structure, both verbal and non-verbal, share a strong bond of love and affection. Such families are less likely to experience unfavourable situations like divorce, family conflicts and behavioural problems.

What Is Effective Communication?

A family is like a team. Without the presence of a healthy and smooth flow of communication, a team cannot perform its function effectively. The same rule applies to the institution of family for if there is a lack of communication the strengthening pillars of a family will weaken.

Communication can be defined as sharing of ideas, feelings and thoughts with fellow family members. An effective communication on the other hand is defined by an active two-way communication, with the listener and the speaker both taking the necessary steps to promote a healthy communication.

How to Build Effective Family Communication

Active and mindful listening

When a family member comes to discuss a problem or share their feelings with you, active listening ensures better communication. Stop what you are doing; make eye contact with the family member and your body postures should indicate that you are concentrating on what they have to say. Listen to the family member without any judgements and criticism. A laid back attitude with distracted gestures is a negative sign and becomes a hindrance in effective communication. You can give your opinions and advices on the matter the family member is seeking help for after you have fully understood the message.

Frequent communication

One of the biggest hurdles that families experience in having healthy communication is the lack of time. It is essential to make a considerable effort to make time for family members. In this present age, children hardly spend time with their parents and often prefer hanging out with their friends. Positive communication starts not only by being a good listener but also a good speaker. Always ask your children and spouse about their day and what they did. Indulge in healthy communication at the dining table or when in the car. Such short lapses of time are sometimes enough to ensure that your family feels that you are there for them whenever they need to talk about anything

Practice conflict resolution

Differing views and perspectives in a single household often lead towards a state of constant conflicts and arguments. The responsibility to avoid such situations of dynamic volatility rests in the hands of the elder members of the family. Start with choosing a method for resolving conflicts from your conversation instead of letting emotions get of control during a heated argument.  It’s natural that many family members will have differing views. What’s more important is all the differing views are heard and acknowledged. This is the first step in conflict resolution.

Planning family gatherings

Family meetings are the perfect opportunity to make up for the lagged family conversations. It is a time where the entire family enjoys and treasures moments spent together. Regular family gatherings contribute towards healthy bonding and important discussions. Gatherings help in resolving conflicts, assigning key chores, defining roles and becoming a source of encouragement for family members.

Be positive

People perceive family as a source of motivation and support. In depressing situations, families play a significant role in helping each other cope with loss. Find time to compliment and encourage your spouse and children. Spread positive energy in your house by using positive terms to lighten up the household setting. Marital and family researcher studies have highlighted that negative communication in the form of criticism, disrespect and defensiveness result in an unhappy family relationships.

When to seek family counselling

Families resort to a family counsellor or therapist when they see deteriorating relationships in the form of constant arguments and conflicts. If your family is facing one or more of the symptoms below then seeking professional help from a family counsellor may be necessary to enhance communications skills.

  • A family member becomes a victim of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Aggressive behaviour and emotional outbursts in teenagers that are out of control.
  • Family is going through a trauma and needs professional guidance for coping.
  • There is a complete absence of communication in the family system.
  • Family members express irritation and annoyance in conducting family chores, such as looking after children or running house errands.
  • There are symptoms of severe violence or threat of violence to a family member.

Family counselling can be highly effective for understanding and improving the communication patterns in your family. Family therapy can also help you learn how to have healthy communication to improve the well-being of your family members.

Australia Counselling links you with professional family counsellors and family therapists throughout Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra. Visit our family issues page to find a family counsellor or therapist near you today.


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