Keeping Lines of Communication Open Practice
Lines of communication can be opened or closed depending on the listener’s response to the speaker. When we listen beyond the words to the feelings and thoughts the speaker may be trying to express, we can build a bridge of empathy that feels respectful and supportive to the speaker. When we respond with our own feelings or thoughts rather than acknowledging the speakers, they can feel disrespected and hurt which usually leads to communication shutting down. Examples of communication blocks are: commanding, giving unwanted advice, placating, interrogating, distracting, psychologizing, being sarcastic, moralizing, and being a know-it-all.
Which of the four responses by a parent opens the lines of communication by connecting with emotions? Most of the responses are a communication block.
A. Child: I just can’t do this. It’s too hard
- Stop complaining. It’s not too hard for you.
- Just do a little bit, take a break and then do more.
- It looks like you are frustrated with this work.
- It isn’t as bad as it seems. You can do it.
B. Child: I don’t like my teacher. She’s mean to me.
- What have you done to make her mad at you?
- I know what we should do. Let’s get together and talk with her to solve this problem.
- Don’t be ridiculous. Of course your teacher likes you.
- It’s hard when you feel your teacher doesn’t like you.
C. Child: I can’t stand my hair. It never looks good.
- Today doesn’t seem like a good hair day for you.
- Well, that’s what you are born with. There’s nothing I can do about it.
- Your hair is just fine.
- Let’s see what we can do to make it better.
D. Child: My friends won’t play with me anymore at school.
- I’m sure you can find other friends. You are so nice.
- That can really make a person feel sad inside.
- Do you know why they won’t?
- You should ask them why they won’t play with you.
E. Child: Homework is just a waste of time. I’m not going to do it!
- Hmmm. Tonight’s homework seems particularly frustrating for you.
- You have to do it. Homework is important to help you learn.
- If you would do it as soon as you come home, it wouldn’t be so bad.
- I didn’t like homework when I was your age either.
F. Child: You treat me just like a baby.
- If you acted your age then I wouldn’t treat you this way.
- So, maybe you think we’re controlling you too much.
- If you did what we asked, then we wouldn’t have to keep telling you what to do.
- How are we treating you like a baby?
G. Child: I don’t like school anymore and I don’t want to go.
- You have to go to school so get ready now.
- What is wrong? Did something happen?
- I’d like to hear why you don’t want to go.
- You seem upset with school now.
ANSWERS: Responses that connect through empathy of child’s feelings, A-3, B-4, C-1, D-2, E-1, F-2 possibly 4, G-4
To learn more about communication blocks read:
Awareness of Communication Blocks is the First Step
©2017 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She works with parents of 5 – 25 year-old children.
To learn how Cynthia can help you solve your specific challenges, contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, , or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary 45-minute discovery session. Why keep suffering? It’s time to change!
Watch for my new book Ally Parenting – A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation coming February 2017