There’s nothing worse than dreading the holidays just because it means having to spend time with family members that you’d rather avoid because relationships are strained or awkward at best. Families are not known for effective communication. When we’re fearful of the pressing questions from a persistent aunt, the emotional outbursts of a stressed-out cousin, the unsolicited advice of a well-meaning uncle or the familiar complaints of a down-and-out brother-in-law, we often go into reactive mode ourselves.
But what if, instead of the automatic responses, or avoidance, you could learn to listen beyond the words and tone? What if you could identify the hidden concern they have, the commitment and care that lives just behind the words you hear? What would be possible if you could just listen generously, without a retort, a reaction or a witty rebuttal?
In the quietness that listening deeply can provide, we can often hear a whole lot more than what is actually being said. We can hear when someone has had an exhausting year and just needs some affirmation or encouragement – nerver under-estimate the power of acknowledgment – you could be the one to give it to them. We can hear the fatigue of someone who hasn’t taken enough time out to nurture themselves – and perhaps you’re the one to remind them it’s necessary, not selfish to do so. You can even hear when someone simply needs unconditional love…
If you’re really listening, not just to get your turn to speak at a big family gathering, but to contribute to your loved ones being heard, you could make an extraordinary difference to your family this holidays. You don’t have to be a communication coach to build a culture of connection.
So don’t just grin and bear the family picnics or the New Year’s Braai. Family gatherings are an opportunity to hone our people skills. Holidays can be an opportunity for really connecting with our loved ones, acknowledging who they are to us, sharing the accomplishments of the year behind us, and inspiring them with our commitments and actions planned for the year ahead. So while you chew on your braai, sip your soda, down dessert and smile – be sure to tune in around you, use your conversational intelligence and really listen to what your family needs to hear from you. And perhaps you and they will get the love and peace you all deserve…
Summer holidays are a real opportunity to connect – inspire – grow!
Book your seat in our Course for Communication for Family Connection : contact firstname.lastname@example.org