Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Can Courtesy Create Confusion?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 @ 02:06 PM
Author: admin

 Repairing a relationship breachIn our previous post we examined how to repair breaches in our relationships. Families who regularly practice this skill improve the quality of their relationships. One obvious point that cannot be overstated: Begin and end with connection. This is the conduit to effective communication. It opens hearts and minds.

As Dr. Karen Purvis taught, “Connect before correct.” In the absence of connection our words are processed as static, background noise that is easily dismissed. To get children to care about and listen to us, they must feel connected to us. Think about it. Connection is just as important to us as adults; we tune out those who feel peripheral or irrelevant to us and choose to attend only to those whom we judge as important. We do not allow acquaintances or strangers to dictate our actions. We heed sources which we value, those to which we feel connected.

But even the healthiest relationships experience conflict. Most often, these difficulties arise out of communication mismatches. We may think we conveyed our intent clearly but often we have not. Consider these common tripwires. Sometimes we expect family members to read our mind. We feel wounded when they do not guess accurately because they should know. Accurate mind reading is after all, an unreliable and unlikely ability. We stew. Tensions increase.

Another common communication mismatch occurs when we give directives. In an effort to be courteous and not appear overly bossy, we may say,

“Please do the dishes,”

“Please, clean up your room.”

“Do your homework.”

“Please be home at a reasonable hour.”


Think back to a time when you spoke similar statements. Most likely, you expected compliance. But, some people—especially kids and spouses–might interpret these as requests and see fulfillment as an option.

In our mind fulfillment of these tasks is NOT optional. We expect action. And most likely, we want it promptly. We’ve fallen into a common communication error. In each of these statements we’ve disguised a requirement as a request and set everyone up for frustration and failure. The completion time frame is undefined. Our idea of a clean room probably differs dramatically from a teen’s standards. This is a classic set up for conflict. What is a parent to do?

Request or requirementWith a dash of intentionality, many conflicts can be avoided. First, we must be clear in our own minds. What is our intention? Are we making a request or a requirement? To help answer that question let’s establish the distinction between a request and a requirement.

The most obvious is that a requirement must be done while a request is optional and may even be open to negotiation.

In our next post we’ll focus on how to frame a request clearly and ensure completion.


Many Happy Returns!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 @ 08:12 PM
Author: admin

Baby looking out from a giftbox near a Christmas treeAt GIFT Family Services, we constantly look for ways to help families connect and create positive relationships and moments of togetherness that build healthy bonding in a family. A Facebook video posted by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University struck us as a wonderful blog topic for this holiday season. It explained a concept called "Serve and Return"

This refers to the feedback loop that occurs when communicating with others. It involves give-and-take, attentive eye-contact, deep listening and an interest in connecting with another. This ability to communicate authentically is the most valuable present we can give our children. It is not something that can be bought but it is something that can be taught.

??????????????Although humans have been programmed to be social beings and to enjoy interacting, the skill set on which it depends must be modeled. It takes courage to reach out to others, to risk being vulnerable, and ask for what one wants. This innate ability develops through observation and repetition. It channels through each of the senses. Vocalizations, gestures, touch, tone of voice, eye contact— all contribute to the communication loop.

In families, parents instinctively teach this essential life skill to their kids by responding accurately to a child’s actions. When baby coos and her parents coo back, when baby smiles and her parents return the smile, or when baby reaches out and her mom or dad reaches back, she learns that her effort produces a response. Baby “Serves” and parents “Return.” This simple process produces profound, life-shaping results. She discovers her ‘voice” in the world and learns that her actions produce results. She perceives the world as a safe place, one that acknowledges her presence, responds to her overtures, and makes room for her contributions. Most importantly, she realizes that her family is that safe base from which she can explore the larger world and to which she can return to refuel.
GIFT.parent and childWhen we share 360˚ of emotion, we show our children that they too can be real with us. They can share their joy as well as their fear, their curiosity as well as their worry, their anger as well as their love. This gives them permission to be authentic and builds trust. Trust is foundational to healthy attachment.

This season give your children the gift of your focused, responsive attention and your relationship will glow with an invaluable holiday light. Watch the video here: