Effectively communicating with another person has several benefits for that relationship:
- Clarifies the relationship (what is this relationship based on?)
- Creates greater understanding between you and the other person
- Develops respect
- Role-models how you would like to be spoken to
- Lets the other know of your beliefs and values
- Builds confidence in you from the other's perspective
- Shows your feelings and needs
- Encourages co-operation
- Prevents problems
- Allows for greater problem-solving success
What does effective communication sound like, look like?
1. It's an open, honest reflection of how you are feeling and what you are needing, that doesn't judge or blame the other person. Your body language matches how you are feeling.
Eg. "I'm really pleased that you're putting your dirty clothes in the laundry each day. That saves me a lot of time when I do the washing." You might have a smile on your face, or give the child a hug.
or "When children jump on the couch, I'm worried that it'll be ruined and I'll have to buy a new one. I can't afford that." You'd be looking worried " maybe a frown.
2. It's a clear message that you've thought about before sending. Knowing what you need or what emotion you want to express is obviously important. Tone and volume of voice are crucial.
Eg. "I'm really tired tonight and want to go to bed early, so I'll need some help with the dishes", said in a calm but weary voice. This is more likely to get a positive response than yelling "I do everything around here! No wonder I'm always tired."
3. It's a statement about what you believe in, or what you think about a particular subject.
Eg. "I enjoy family parties. It's great seeing the children play together and being able to relax with you."
or "When I can hear the music coming from someone else's ear-phones, I get concerned about their hearing being damaged."
or "You're a great friend. I value the time we spend together."
4. If you are giving a direction, or answering a request, it is what you really mean. Use a firm and kind tone of voice.
Eg. "We need to leave in 5 minutes, so you won't be late for school." Pick up your keys and walk to the door in 5 minutes.
or "No, you can't have a biscuit now, we'll be having dinner in 15 minutes." Don't change your mind and give the child a biscuit.
5. It's real, not an empty threat. If there is going to be a consequence to the child's unacceptable behaviour, then you need to let the child know and you must be prepared for that consequence.
Eg. "Please keep the TV on channel 7 " I'm watching the news. If you can't do that, I'll ask you to leave the room."
or "If you aren't dressed by the time I've put on my makeup, then it will be too late to go to see the movie you chose."
It's important to see the difference between natural consequences and punishment
Consequences follow on from, and are directly related to the unacceptable behaviour, as in the examples above. Your body language is not threatening because you are simply letting the other person understand what will happen next.
Punishment is often totally unrelated to the behaviour, so has less impact on the child's awareness of cause and effect. The use of the "naughty chair" for misbehaviour, for instance, can be limited in its effectiveness, because sitting in a particular spot usually has nothing to do with the child's deed. Also, it can be quite difficult to keep a child on the "naughty chair", so policing this form of punishment becomes a problem for the parent.