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Generous Communication Helps You Connect Better

April 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 127

I recently read a book by John Maxwell called Everyone Communicates Few Connect. It inspired me to dig into how we communicate with those we love, and what we could do to improve our connection.

Have you ever noticed the impact of positive reinforcement? I received a positive comment from an article I wrote on the topic of marriage. Here's the comment.

"Love your blog and, you're right-we all have our different communication styles. My husband and I have just celebrated our 50th anniversary and we still love to look back to our family vacations at the Arizona dude ranch where every year we had some harrowing descents down those narrow mountain trails during our midnight rides. Memorable, to say the least, and they forged some wonderful family memories! Love your blog and I'll be back!"

Sandra, you lit up my day when you wrote this. Thank you!

Do you light up when people make a point of encouraging you or lifting you up? I'll bet you do. Our spouse and kids feel the same way. They want desperately to be included in the conversation, and not just serve as a sounding board for our little speech making moments.

Have you ever delivered the household speech? You know what I mean. When someone does something in way you consider unacceptable, you let loose a 20 minute sermon on the hidden dangers of not washing hands before eating. Raise your hand, if this has been you. (FYI, I'm raising my hand now.)

Generous communication involves other voices in addition to our own. Occasionally, those other voices should speak more than our voice. Here's a short excerpt from a letter written to a speaker in Calvin Miller's book,The Empowered Communicator.

Dear Speaker: Your ego has become a wall between yourself and me. You're not really concerned about me, are you? You're mostly concerned about whether or not this speech is really working....You are so caught up in the issue of how I am going to receive your speech, you haven't thought of me much at all.

When I read this, I felt shattered, because I've been the person who made the family speech. I told myself I was doing it for them, but as I ranted and raved, the reality became, I did it for me.

John Maxwell shared in his book, Everyone Communicates few Connect, three things people ask themselves whenever they hope to connect with someone. In a way, it sounds too simple to categorize our family communication into these three questions, but as you read them, see if they describe what you think. If so, they probably also apply to our family members.

We get so comfortable with our loved ones, we forget the importance of the three questions. Whenever we communicate, let's seek to answer these for our family:

1. Do you care for me? - You might think this is obvious, but for many families it isn't. If it were, our rate of depression, divorce and drug abuse wouldn't be skyrocketing. As we communicate, our words and actions should show the level of our caring.

2. Can you help me? - Sometimes help comes in the form of listening ears, which hold more value than the best deal on Being helpful involves more than a few words here and there, it means getting dirty, coming alongside and participating together.

3. Can I trust you? - Repeated family jokes at the expense of our children or spouse tear down the trust we need to build. It matters to honor one another. I remember when my kids were learning to swim. At some point, they each had to decide if Momma could catch them. Have you caught someone you love lately?

Generous communication starts by helping our family know they are valued. To start we must listen well, ask questions, share our similar values and build upon them. As a result, true connections get made. Isn't that the goal.

There are no guarantees we'll stick together for a lifetime, but if we make the effort to communicate well, it's much more likely to happen.

Which of the questions above do you already use in your family? How have they helped you to connect better with your family?

Paula's writes and speaks to help couples and families grow through her faithful choices approach to life. As a wife, mom, ordained pastor and persistent friend Paula knows the value of the choices we make each day. She longs to help people get where they want to go by helping them see the choices available to them. As the Faithful Choice Advocate Paula writes a daily blog at

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