Having a caring household

Do you ever feel that you're not being heard? Or has anyone said to you that you're not a very good listener? Really good listening is the key to great communication.

Resolving conflict – it’s emotional first, facts second!

The key to resolving conflict is realizing it's not about you. It's about them, and what they feel, first and foremost, and then later on, you can get to solving the facts and the details about whatever's caused the situation. You want to understand and help them know that you understand how they feel. Listening is a skill, which is fantastic because it's learnable.

First step in learning the skill of listening is to be able to recognize and to name your own emotions. For example, you feel angry. What kind of angry? Are you frustrated? Are you annoyed? Are you just grumpy? And the more detail and the more precision you can describe your own emotions to yourself. That's going to help you recognize their emotions. Now, initially, you might need to talk about it out loud. I would encourage you to, perhaps privately think about how do I feel in this moment? And how do I feel in that moment? And find language to describe your emotions to yourself, so that you build your skill, your emotional literacy, so you can be better at reflecting back to the people you are listening to how they are feeling.

Bad Communication

There are some behaviours in communication that you should avoid to keep a conversation flowing.

Avoid nagging: The first one includes that nagging sound, telling people what they should do, "you should do this and you should do that." People hate that. It's really going to annoy people and they will stop wanting to be part of the conversation and solving problems.

Avoid over-judging: The second one is not being factual, being very judgmental, and saying words like 'always' and 'never'. Most people are 'sometimes' or 'a lot of the time', but occasionally they'll, they'll do it once and you're 'always' or 'never' doesn't work.

Avoid insulting: And the third part of really bad communication is insulting people. Describing people using insulting terms or insulting titles, just shuts down communication. They will not listen to you if you are speaking to them in manners that they don't want to hear.

Tips for great listening

Tip one: Use gentle, non-judgemental, and factual observation

The first tip is gentle, non judgemental and factual observation. Convey what it is that you are hearing, or seeing. Don't describe it in a sense of judgment, but rather simply what you are observing. Help them, see how they look to you, and what you have observed about what they're saying and doing. So an example of this might be, you observe someone in your household, thumping things down, moving very briskly, being a bit sharp with their voice, and instead of saying, "What's up with you," you might observe, "I can't help noticing that the way you're moving the way you've stacked things over there, the way you've thumped your cup down, that something must be going on. You seem really upset about something." And that gives them the opportunity to say, "Oh, yes, I suppose I am. Well, look, it was something that you said," or, "oh, I'm not looking forward to what I have to go out and do." And then you can begin a conversation. .

Tip two: Use open, non-leading questions

So my second tip is about open, non-leading questions. Open questions are different to closed questions. A closed question has a yes/no answer. Have you done the dishes? Yes or no? It's pretty simple. Or even the closed question. Are you angry about work? Doesn't give the possibility that you might be angry about something that I've done or someone else has done to you. The open non leading questions, open doors to conversation, "I noticed something, what's going on for you?"

Tip three: Be quite and listen

So tip three, is once you've reflected and asked your open non leading question or major observation. Close your mouth and listen in appreciative silence. Now here's a trick. Most people grossly overestimate how much time they are in silence. They think hours have passed when only seconds have passed. So I encourage you to, even though it feels uncomfortable, stay silent and stay observing, listening for what the person you are speaking with wants to say. They may have to think about what you've said, reflect, turn inward, review what's going on for them, formulate how they going to reply to you, all of that will take time and if you're impatient, they won't do it. If you are appreciative, and silent, listening and looking forward to hearing their answer, you will get a much better response.

You know what it feels like to be well listened to, so give other people that gift of great listening!

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