Mind Your Language : Build Effective Communication

This is the third of the five-part series by Tasneem Kagalwalla on family wellness. This article deals with the effective communication piece of the wellness pie.

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 and includes both verbal and non-verbal. For this article, we will focus on one aspect – the spoken language.

The single biggest reason for dysfunctional families is a lack of effective communication. Someone may feel ignored. Instead of communicating a vulnerability, they may take it out on someone else on something small. Another person may feel victimized and irritated by this behaviour and instead of opening the conversation, may retreat or explode. And the story continues until 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 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. Using this information builds effective communication. Why? Because 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 can be broadly grouped into three categories – Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

Listed below are examples of the words and phrases to look for. Use the internet as a resource tool to obtain detailed lists.

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

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, feels suspicious of your extended work hours, and even occasionally goes through your phone messages.

Now what if you knew that she preferred to just HEAR a simple, “I love you.”

Communication becomes more effective when we use words and phrases that the listener uses most often.

By communicating in exactly the same way that people communicate with themselves, you are ensuring that they understand what you intend to say. It is like talking to them in their own dialect. Without going through more filters.

Now what?!

Look. Listen. Feel. Take the time to gauge your family’s preferred style of communication. Cue into the words they use. Over a week’s time, keep a diary of the words and phrases they use most often. This exercise will give you a clear indication of their preferences.

Put into practice this new knowledge of each other in your daily conversations. Some words may not come as a natural choice for you. Yet it would be ideal for you to remain flexible in your vocabulary. For example, if you know your partner prefers visual words, you could say, “LOOKS like Anna has a poetry recital on July 10, let’s SEE how we can coordinate that. I’m LOOKING forward to it!”

Notice the positive shifts and changes in the way you interact and feel about each other. The vital impact of effective communication is critical to building 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?!