Communication within the Family: How Well Do You Communicate?

Effective communication is important to the happiness and well-being of a family.

Researchers tell us that we communicate in the following ways:

• 7% of what we communicate to others is through our words.

• 33% of what we communicate to others is through our tone of voice.

• 60% of what we communicate to others is through our body language.

How we use our words, our tone of voice and our body language effect our communications with others. We must be able to communicate in positive ways in order to build close relationships. Researchers have found that there is a connection between how well we communicate within our family and how healthy and happily our family operates.

Let’s look at communication styles and the effect those styles have on our family and others. Understanding our styles can help us strengthen our communication skills and make our families stronger.

There are 4 basic communication styles, although researchers may label them differently. Susie Weller, author of the book, Why Don’t You Understand? labels them as “brain styles,” or ways in which we think. Each style has strengths and weaknesses. As we look at these communication or brain styles, think about the one that would characterize you most of the time.

In this lesson, communication style, thinking style, or brain style will be used interchangeably to refer to the same concept.

Relational Communication Style

Relationships are important to these individuals. They like to make sure everyone is happy. They enjoy supporting others and understand their own feelings and the feelings of others.

•Strengths: Accommodating, calming, loving, loyal, a good listener, an encourager to others, patient.

•Weaknesses: Indecisive, indifferent, permissive.

•Parenting Tips: Make firm decisions; Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your child when necessary.

Logical Communication Style

These individuals are analytical. They enjoy facts and specifics. They like to know the end results and enjoy solving problems.

•Strengths: Goal-oriented, strong, direct, leader, decisive, problem-solver, confident, determined, enjoys challenges and difficult assignments, controlling, competitive, independent.

•Weaknesses: Argumentative, insensitive to others, too busy, stubborn, demanding, arrogant, critical, sarcastic.

•Parenting Tips: Listen to your child’s ideas, share control by providing your child with choices, spend time together, recognize positive behaviors in your child, help your child learn leadership skills.

Practical Communication Style

These people like to organize and plan. They enjoy details and are reliable. If you want a job to be done, you can rely on “the planner,” who will complete the task.

•Strengths: Has high standards, likes order, hard-working, detailed, accurate, focused, predictable, conscientious, consistent.

•Weaknesses: Unrealistic expectations of self and others, too perfect, insensitive, impatient, too serious, rigid, strict.

•Parenting Tips: Learn to relax and have fun with your child, set reasonable expectations, be patient with your child’s mistakes, help your child develop organizational skills.

Creative Communication Style

This person is playful and innovative. He/she likes to have fun and think in unique ways that others don’t. This person loves people.

•Strengths: Positive, fun-loving, an entertainer, works well with others, motivator, energetic, spontaneous.

•Weaknesses: Talkative, permissive, impatient, show-off, unfocused.

•Parenting Tips: Think before speaking and consider the consequences before you act, follow through on discipline, set reasonable boundaries for your child, develop patience, and listen.

Identifying your communication style:

Researchers have found that:

• 60% of people have 2 dominant brain styles.

• 30% of the population use 3 brain styles.

• 6% of people operate in one style.

• 4% of the population use 4 styles comfortably.

We use one communication style most of the time, especially under pressure. When we are under stress, we can overreact and use our strengths in negative ways. We may use different styles, depending on the situation. At times, it is necessary to adjust our communication style in order to more effectively communicate our ideas.

Two of these communication styles are focused on relationships: The Relational and The Creative. Two of these styles focus on completing a task: the Logical and the Practical.

What communication style represents you most of the time? Do you operate in other communication styles? Are you focused more on relationships or tasks?

Identifying your child’s communication style:

If you have an opposite communication style to that of your child, you will have to work hard to understand him/her. If you understand how your child thinks, you are able to more effectively communicate your ideas to your child. Your instruction and guidance will have a better chance of being positively received by your child.

Positive communication is not about winning or losing. Positive communication is intended to create an environment where families can work together, share ideas, and communicate love. In a healthy family, every member should be able to express his/her thoughts in a respectful way and know that he/she is heard. As parents, our responsibility is to model respectful listening and positive communication to our children.

All of us have a communication or thinking style that we prefer when speaking to others, and a style that we use in understanding what’s being said. We need to adjust our style of speaking with our children in order to more effectively communicate our ideas.

What is your child’s communication or thinking style? How is it different from yours? How will you adjust your style in order to more effectively communicate your ideas to your child?

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE

The following is an example taken from the book Why Don’t You Understand? by Susie Leonard Weller.

Situation: Jasmine, age 9, is learning to clean her room. Each of the following interactions between parent and child is based on the child’s communication or thinking style.

If Jasmine is a Logical Thinker: Be specific about the details: “Jasmine, your room needs to be cleaned up before you go out to play.”

If Jasmine is a Practical Thinker: Explain things in detail and in order: “Jasmine, you need to do three things to pick up your room. First, make your bed. Second, put your dirty clothes in the hamper. Third, pick up your toys.”

If Jasmine is a Relational Thinker: Strengthen the relationship: “Jasmine, first pick up your room. Afterwards, we’ll play a game or read a book together.”

If Jasmine is a Creative Thinker:Use a game or use variety in your approach to get your child to comply: “Jasmine, can you beat the timer and get your room cleaned up before it goes off?”

Using your child’s thinking style is one way for you to communicate, motivate, and understand him/her as he/she is created. Every child is smart, but each child learns and responds in different ways to instruction and guidance from you.

If you will take the time to adjust your style of communication, you can avoid some of the conflict and frustration in parenting, build stronger relationships with your children, and have greater success in shaping your child’s behavior.

Try Something New

Try using all four of the communication or thinking styles in order to see which one works best with your child.

Verses for Encouragement

Identify your child’s communication or thinking style and use it to more effectively teach your child. “Train up a child according to his way, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Ask the Lord to help you understand how to best communicate with your child. “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” Colossians 4:6