How to improve communication with your family

For most of us, our closest relationships are with our family; our parents, spouses or partners and kids. However, even the closest of relationships still experience ongoing or underlying tension.

Despite the unique connections that exist within a family, we may not always see eye-to-eye with everyone, but it is important to remember that disagreements and differences of opinion, can create opportunities for open communication and improvement in relationships.


Six tips to overcome communication differences with our family

So often, poor communication is the underlying cause of tension, distress and conflict between people. No matter what the misunderstanding, most situations improve when we work on our communication skills. So how can we be more effective at communicating with our family?


1. Don’t rush it

If you plan to see your family, don’t do it when you’re distracted. For example, unless it’s urgent, try not to check your phone. They can probably tell straight away if you’re caught up thinking about something else. Spend quality time and give them your full attention.


2. Remain an adult

It’s common when we feel angry or frustrated to ‘revert’ back to our childhood role and associated behaviours. As easy as it might be to revert back, you don’t want to act like a frustrated child who doesn’t like being told what to do. Be polite but firm and calmly talk out any problems, rather than let your emotions take over.


3. Don’t focus on small talk

Opening up about what’s happening in your life can give your family a better understanding of the decisions you are making. Conversations about plans for the future, finances and health are important but in some cases, could end badly. If it is a difficult topic, think about what you want out of the discussion before you enter into it. It may not be worth bringing up in the first place if it’s a situation that you can’t change or control.


4. Do what you love together

Do an activity that you all enjoy doing. Did you do any hobbies together in the past like fishing, cooking or kicking the footy? Revising these fun times can strengthen your bonds and promote more positive reactions.


5. Don’t get caught up constantly checking up on them

As our family members get older, it’s common to worry about them and how they’re managing on their own. But it’s important to see things from their point of view and understand that checking up on them too often could come across as criticism. Try to make the most of the time you have together and you will often be able to get a sense of where they’re at.


6. Set boundaries

If you feel like your family don’t respect your decisions then it may be time to set boundaries. Be direct and upfront about the topics you won’t be discussing. Doing this will give you both space to make your own decisions without affecting your relationship.


If you are struggling and want to speak to a professional counsellor, SuicideLine Victoria is available 24/7. Call us on 1300 651 251.

If it is an emergency, call 000.