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How To Have Nonviolent Communication With Stubborn Family Members

How To Have Nonviolent Communication With Stubborn Family Members

The funny thing about family is, one minute it seems impossible to coexist peacefully, but in the next, we couldn’t imagine life without them! Sibling rivalry can get particularly intense, even to the point of communication breakdowns. Ironically, these emotion fueled conflicts are usually waged out of genuine care for one another!

Often there’s a particularly stubborn family member who always finds themselves at the point of conflict. Even with your best efforts, every approach seems to end in an argument with them. In these cases, you need to call upon these smart communication strategies for dealing with stubborn people.

1. Don’t Escalate Situations By Trying to Prove Your Point

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    Don’t fall into the trap of proving your point against all odds. You’ll find yourself getting completely sucked in and slugging it out until they appreciate your point. This simply isn’t effective with stubborn people because they are often reacting through emotion instead of logic.

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    Even if what you’re presenting is a logical case, their emotions can blind them to seeing the reason. As a result, the argument goes nowhere and builds frustration. This isn’t good for either of you, especially if one of you reaches boiling point!

    With this fact in mind, you should adopt a smarter communication strategy. Bury your ego and focus on soothing their emotions first. Once you’ve calmed them down, they’ll be far more receptive, possibly even coming around without much persuasion.

    2. Find Common Ground to Relieve Rising Tension

    Studies have shown that our stubborn tendencies are brought to the surface, the more people disagree with us. So when you start to feel that uneasy feeling and communication is about to take a turn for the worst, employ this next strategy.

    Striking common ground is the fastest way to diffuse the situation, preventing the full force of stubborn behavior from taking hold. You don’t necessarily have to bend against your own will. Just switching the focus point or activity to something you can both appreciate. You’ll soon notice the tension in the air evaporating.

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    3. Don’t Get Locked Into a Power Struggle

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      If we have to deal with stubborn people, getting caught in a power struggle makes the whole situation worse. Especially when it comes to family members, hierarchy and position can often add fuel to the fire. Continued escalation just becomes a tug of war, the harder you pull, the harder they pull too!

      Typically, stubborn people are more aware of the hierarchy and they will use it to bolster their side of the argument. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself in an “I’m the parent/oldest so I’m right” kind of situation. This is very counterproductive, you should aim to diffuse situations before reaching this.

      4. Be Completely Honest, Don’t Attack or Blame

      If an argument ensues, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and use tactics such as blame or attacks on character. At this point, constructive communications will become impossible! Instead, you should stick with honesty by expressing your true feelings (using “I”). Speaking from a genuine place is going to be the most effective way to bypass their stubborn nature.

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      Let’s say your brother smokes and you desperately want him to stop. Remaining calm and speaking sincerely will get you the furthest. Explain exactly why you want him to stop and how it makes you feel, as opposed to simply stating it’s terrible and dirty!

      5. Speak, Stop and Listen, Ask Questions

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        It’s easier said than done, but this is the best way to deal with stubborn people. After honestly stated your qualm, sit back and listen while taking mental note of all their points. The mere act of showing your willingness to listen and understand may even dissolve their stubborn behavior.

        What’s more, you can then carefully address each point in a calm logical manner. Once you’ve shown that you have taken their side of the argument onboard, they will be more receptive to hearing yours.

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        6. If All Else Fails, Let Them Cool Off

        Sometimes we reach a certain point, then the best thing we can do is to give stubborn people time and space to cool off. If we continue to harp on, it falls upon deaf ears as they continue to build their resistance.

        If you have employed these strategies correctly, this provides a chance for them to mull it over. Most of the time, they will come back to you, sometimes they even apologize for their stubborn behavior. If you notice this as a regular cycle, you may just have to accept that’s just how they are!

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        Last Updated on May 21, 2019

        How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

        How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

        For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

        If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

        Example 1

        You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

        You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

        In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

        Example 2

        You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

        People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

        You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

        Example 3

        You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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        The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

        Example 4

        You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

        Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

        If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

        Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

        • Understand your own communication style
        • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
        • Communicate with precision and care
        • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

        1. Understand Your Communication Style

        To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

        In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

        Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

        2. Learn Others Communication Styles

        Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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        If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

        “How do you prefer to receive information?”

        This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

        To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

        3. Exercise Precision and Care

        A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

        On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

        Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

        I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

        I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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        In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

        The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

        Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

        4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

        Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

        In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

        “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

        Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

        Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

        It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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        It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

        It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

        Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

        Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

        The Bottom Line

        When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

        I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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        Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

        Reference

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