Have you ever noticed that you have great insight and advice for your family members, but they often respond to your sage wisdom with a “Yea, sure Dad – whatever you say?” Don’t your spouse and kids know what an insightful perspective you have? If only they would heed your brilliance, their lives would function much more smoothly. And maybe you are correct.
But those treasures of wisdom that are valued at work are often ignored at home. Why? Frequently, it is not so much what we say but the manner in which we communicate it. Think about it. At work you might begin a conversation with, “Bob, I have a thought (or a suggestion) that might enhance that project we are working on.” However, at home we may be prone to blow through the mutual respect dialog and begin a conversation with, “John, you know what you are doing wrong don’t you?” And with that simple statement, we have immediately lost our listener before we even begin.
Allow me to suggest a couple of steps that might be helpful (you notice I didn’t begin with “what you’re doing wrong). First, starting a conversation with a compliment about something the other person is doing well can remove potential defensiveness, which typically creates ineffective barriers in communication. Secondly, be specific about the information you give. Try to make the content about the topic and not an opportunity to point out mistakes or deficiencies in the other person. Finally, maintain an openness to hear the other person’s perspective. It just may be that they have wisdom that you could benefit from hearing.
I encourage you to try these strategies this week.