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Resolution for Communication

With the beginning of a new year upon us, people are undoubtedly looking to improve their lives. Many people will eliminate the negatives, like fried foods, smoking or bad reality television on the E! Network. Others will look to improve their lives by adding positives like trips to the gym, more fiber in their diets or reading more than just the Harry Potter franchise. Although all these actions will increase quality of life in most cases, there are still other areas to improve that often get over looked. When people are asked what their New Year’s resolutions are, they often point to areas of individual improvement. This is most likely due to the amount of control they have in those areas. This year though, it would be fruitful to look in areas of family improvement. Obviously, this can be more difficult and messy than making sure you get to the gym three days a week, but when broken down it is not nearly as daunting as one might realize.

Through my experience in working with families, I have found one goal consistently appearing in treatment plans; communication. It is often the case that poor communication acts like an ether-like accelerant that sends families into turmoil. Minimal problems and grievances are expounded by heightened emotions and non-existent communication. When I first started working with families I had a case in which the communication was so stagnant that Mom and Dad could not even have a conversation without interrupting each other or slinging insults. After a few sessions of almost no progress, I instituted some “safe” words to jumpstart communication. I asked members of the family to not retort when insulted, but instead say their safe word and walk away. This helped the family understand boundaries with each other and stopped arguments almost immediately. After a couple of weeks, communication picked up and Mom learned that a lot of the arguments between her and Dad stemmed from her insulting him. Dad would hold in his anger about the insults until he couldn’t handle it anymore and would explode into what Mom termed “a screaming Neanderthal”. After continued work, the family was able to resolve some of their more serious issues, but the main point is that communication is what allowed that to happen.

So this new year when you’re trying to figure out if you should give up Oreo’s or visit your grandmother more, think about improving communication in your family. It may seem like a daunting task, but you don’t have to move mountains to get it to that point. It may sound like a cliché, but communication does take way more listening than talking. If you are spending more time in a conversation speaking or thinking of what you will say next, than listening; you are not being an effective communicator. Instead of thinking of how to slide in an insult about your brother’s eyes being too far apart, listen to what he’s saying and see if there is a way to settle the argument. If he continues to insult you about your earlobes being asymmetrical, then walk away and continue the conversation when things have cooled down. If you want effective communication within your family it can seem like a lot to get everyone on the same page, but it’s easier than you think. Working toward effective communication in your family is just like getting those six pack abs, it takes time, effort and consistency, and most of all it starts with you.

Christopher Curran MA

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. mae
    January 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Keep up the good work Chris. Great way to get your philosophy out there. Looking foward to future blogs. Your philosophy makes great sense.

  2. roberta flynn
    January 4, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Chris, you are so inspiring. You have a great sense of ones self and i know you will always make your Mom and Dad proud. The insight to what makes people separate and what can bring them together is so true.

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