How to Build Communication
There once were two submarines in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. One German, one British.
The British sub had sprung a leak and was taking on water quickly. They radioed for assistance, “We’re sinking! We’re sinking!”
The German submarine heard their distress and wanted to be helpful, so they tentatively replied, “What are you thinking about?”
Okay, okay, bad dad joke. But thanks, Dad, for letting me borrow it.
All of this to illustrate that if we’re not communicating clearly and intentionally with our audience in mind, we’re sunk.
Let’s build some communication!
You are a parent. You are a wife, mother, husband, father, sibling, friend. We have many relationships to maintain, and many opportunities to communicate. These communications can go one of three ways. They can hurt a relationship, they can not affect the relationship, or they can build a relationship.
Why settle for the first two options when the third IS an option?
Because it takes work.
Today I want to offer to you that the relationship rewards you can experience from being intentional in your communication will FAR OUTWEIGH the effort it takes.
We don’t just want to communicate. It’s not even enough to communicate effectively. We must communicate intentionally if we want to build relationships.
We’re talking about building communication. Communication that builds us and our loved ones.
We’re talking about building communication. Building our skills to communicate well and on purpose.
We’re talking about building communication. Building our homes so that our non verbal communication is in line with our intentions to communicate love, acceptance, and faith (just to get started).
To be proficient in building communication, here are three tenets that you’ve gotta master.
- Know your message
- Know your audience
- Get creative in your delivery
Here’s a beautiful example of someone who nails all three:
How many times do you think he’s delivered the “airplane safety” spiel? Probably a zillion. How many times have you heard the same “airplane safety” droll? A zillion. And how often do you listen? Bah ha… never.
But I watched...nay... willingly absorbed...this entire video from my couch, not even on an airplane, partially because I was startled at how close everyone was, but also because I was highly entertained.
Let’s talk about how this applies at home.
Ever feel like you’re droning on to you children, or even to your spouse? Do you feel like a broken record, repeating instructions and rules? I can assure you, the feeling is mutual.
HA! Rude but true.
It’s time to figure out what you’re trying to say, who you’re saying it to, and how to do it in an exciting way that will light their fire and provide lifegiving entertainment every day of your life.
Numero Uno- Hone Your Message
What are you actually trying to communicate? There are a few levels here.
There’s the immediate pressing concern: Okay guys, go brush your teeth!
But then there’s the underlying communication that happens through tone, cues, and patterns over time, and is influenced by the subtleties of how you feel/think and how the listener feels/thinks. It could be something like this: Brushing teeth is fun and easy, and you are a capable, rockstar kid.
In order to truly believe the subtle underlying message, you as the parent, have to be in a safe and calm place yourself. If you’re not, the communication is: Ugh! Why do I have to always hold your hand through this?! Listen up. Brush. Your. Teeth. We do this every day. Water and toothpaste. Then scrub. Please.
The simple phrase Okay guys, go brush your teeth! can mean a thousand things. What do YOU want to be saying to your kids, and what will it take for you to be able to communicate THAT message?
Now the fun part. How can you use that trigger (a feeling of discomfort, or a chore-- in this case brushing the teeth) to remind you to communicate intentionally? Tie a ribbon on your toothbrush- or theirs! Draw big smileys with sharpie on the toothpaste bottle. Visualize the whole thing before anyone wakes up in the morning. Get a necklace that looks like a toothbrush. Put a plant on the bathroom counter that reminds you of your intentional message. Use a tried-and-true PostIt.
Instead of being the bain of your existence, let helping the kids brush their teeth be the vehicle you use to show them how much you like, trust, and love them.
Numero Dos- Audience Awareness
Alrighty. You know your kids. You’re the mama. You know that some kids have certain meltdown triggers. You know that you have certain bad habits. Knowing your audience makes ALL the difference when you’re delivering communication.
I really love funky brunch places. I love the small menus and the fancy sauces. I love the beautiful plating and the musician vibe. I love strange herbal teas and plant filled terraces. I just love it.
My dad though?
While he’s an awesome sport and will come with me on special occasions, he’d rather have a scone bigger than my head and a big glass of OJ at the diner.
But truthfully, a scone is a scone. Eggs can only be prepared so many ways. We’re having the same food essentially, but because of specific audience selection, the presentation and experience are SO different.
Know what helps your kids behave well, and know what influences them to have a harder time. Play on this knowledge to make their lives more fun, and yours more full.
This goes perfectly hand in hand with the final point, Numero Tres- Creative Delivery.
You guys. Stop saying boring stuff over and over.
It’s time to switch it up. Have some fun. Get creative!
I have a friend who dressed up every morning of the covid quarantine-- full on Halloween dress up-- just to keep things interesting, and to keep her family’s spirits high. Isn’t that awesome?!?
While only you can determine the exactly perfect combo of approach and words and timing to communicate what you want to communicate with YOUR child, here are some universal tips that seem to make reaching your audience (we’ll use a child as the example, but it could be anyone) more effective.
- Being silly (jokes, faces, tickles, voices)
- Items of interest (trains, trucks, ninjas, dinos, sparkles, dolls, Paw Patrol)
- Being with you
- Special responsibilities
- Secret places like forts and treehouses
Children can listen better if:
- They know you’re talking to them
- You gently and safely touch them
- You are smiling or look safe
- They are being spoken to at their level
- They know the words you’re using
- They trust their unconditional worth
So, you need your kids to brush their teeth.
You say Okay guys, go brush your teeth! But you say it right after you’ve eaten a piece of chocolate to make your teeth black and nasty (win-win… see?). They think you’re hilarious. You’ve told them the message, and you’ve told it in a way that resonates with your audience. You’re smiling with a wink, so they know they’re special and you like them.
Go get em mama. Go say what you wanna say, in the way they can hear you, with a flash of glory.
TELL ME EVERYTHING. What did you do that landed with your kids?