The third piece of the wellness pie is that of communication. Communication affects all that goes on between human beings. It is also the scale by which two people measure each other’s ‘pot’ level and is the integral tool by which that level can be changed.
Communication is a vast subject (verbal and non-verbal) and hence for the ease of understanding, we will focus on one important aspect – the spoken language.
The single biggest reason for dysfunctional families is lack of effective communication. The wife feels ignored and insignificant as she bawls at her husband about an important date he forgot. The husband, feeling victimized and irritated, swears she had not. And the story continues till like a tornado, it has within its realm an extremely troubled family unit which just doesn’t seem to understand each other.
How it works: Typically all of us function through a communication system to give meaning to our experiences. We then use words to express ourselves. These words are not accidental; they have a direct correlation with the way information is interpreted in our minds. We tend to use words and phrases which we unconsciously prefer.
By practicing active listening we can therefore determine an individual’s preferred communication style. Optimally using this information enhances the effectiveness of communication. As the most effective way to communicate with others is to converse in exactly the same way that they communicate with themselves inside their heads.
The words people like to use are broadly characterized in three categories.
Listed below are examples of the words and phrases to look out for. The internet can further be used as a resource tool to obtain detailed lists of the same.
Visual words: see/view/look/picture/looking forward/beyond a shadow of doubt.
Auditory words: hear/listen/say/talk/give me a shout/loud and clear.
Kinesthetic words: feel/cool/smooth/calm/keep in touch/hang in there.
Why it works: Communication becomes more effective when we use words and phrases that the listener uses most often. How many of you have sent your beloved a bunch of red roses hoping she’d SEE your profound love for her. Instead she still complains about feeling insecure, suspicious of your extended work hours and occasionally even goes through the messages on your phone. Now what if you knew that she preferred to just HEAR a simple, “I love you.” Would you not have communicated the exact same message along with a good chance of being welcomed home with your favorite meal? Perhaps with the spare cash (which you saved on the flowers) you could even take the family out for dessert.
By communicating in exactly the same way that people communicate with themselves you are ensuring that they understand what you intended to say. It’s like talking to them in their own preferred dialect.
Now what?! Look. Listen. Feel. Take the time to gauge your families preferred style of communication. Queue into the words they use. Over a week’s time, keep a diary of the words and phrases they use most often. This activity will give you a clear indication of their preferences.
Put to practice the understanding of this new knowledge of each other in your daily conversations. Some of the words may not come as a natural choice of language to you. Yet it would be ideal for you to remain flexible in your vocabulary. For e.g. if you know your partner prefers visual words, you could say, “LOOKS like we must attend Anna’s poetry recital, please SEE to it that you keep yourself free on the 10th of July.”
Notice the positive shifts and changes it brings to the way you interact and feel about each other. This vital impact is critical to build a thriving family with strong family values.
“The difference between ‘the right word’ and ‘almost the right word’ is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug” ~ Mark Twain
Words are powerful! When you chose just the right word, you increase understanding ten-fold.
So what words are you choosing today?!
Click here for Part I/II/IV/V