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6 Ways To Make Dysfunctional Families Functional

6 Ways To Make Dysfunctional Families Functional

So are you a Blood or a Crip? Or maybe you relate more to the Latin Kings? Perhaps you might know a few guys who ride with the Warlocks or Hell’s Angels? Now, just take a minute and imagine all of these guys sitting at your dinner table on Thanksgiving Day. Only, they are not gangs. They are your family members. They each come with their own codes of secrecy. They each carry pain etched into their skin like a faded Jesus tattoo. And they’re looking to expand their turf and recruit you into their madness of misery by forcing you to drink moonshine gin. If you dread being around your family for more than five minutes, then you need to read these six tips. You’ll learn how to make dysfunctional families functional and stop family events from turning into deadly massacres of tiffs and battles for turf.

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1. People are very emotional. It is difficult to deal with emotions.

The difficulty lies in us not really communicating with words, but with emotions. Sadly, many people don’t have control over their emotions. Or people simply can’t understand their emotions well enough to communicate them effectively. Families are nothing more than a series of differing relationships with underlying emotions. Each member within the family is working to get some kind of need met. Psychiatrist W. Robert Beavers developed the Beavers Scale of Family Functioning. This scale measures the emotional health and development patterns within the family structure. People can use the Beaver’s scale to identify their family structure and thus make strides to change it.

2. Level 5: Families void of love and emotion.

These families are the lowest on the Beaver Scale. Much like gangs, members of these families are beaten or sexed in. Sadly, members within these families are severely neglected. They feel lost simply because the family structure lacks a strong authoritative parental figure. Members become void of emotion, because they’ve become jaded from all the abuse and suffering. People within these families lack empathy. They don’t have the capacity to understand other people’s pain.

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When dealing with members in this family structure, it is wise to refrain from face to face confrontation. They will never admit or apologize for hurting you, because they simply refuse to acknowledge your pain. The best way to handle members within this family structure is to not give them any additional power. Your attitude must remain in neutral even when you’re seething inside. In time, you’ll find the pain they caused you will disseminate. Once you have control, then you can find the right counselor or therapist who can guide you the rest of the way.

3. Level 4: The Dictator! This family structure is rack by rigid rules and a strong disciplinarian who acts more like a dictator than a parent.

The tyrant rules with coercion and intimidation. The tyrant seeks to control the feelings and actions of his/her subordinates. She will chastise, ostracize and burn people at the stake if they refuse to adhere to her rules. It is important to understand that people that can’t control themselves wish to control the people around them. Members in these family structures may act out, because they need some sense of freedom.

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Or their self-confidence might be tampered to a point in which they become a human doormat. A wise teacher once taught me relationships are all about roles. First, we need to understand the other person, identify what they’re lacking, and thus jump into the role that is going to alleviate their pain. In the case of a controlling loved one. We can work to offer them a sense of security. We don’t need to feel micro-managed. Instead, we can control a controlling relationship by staying two steps ahead of him. Tell him everything you’re going to do, exactly when you’re going to do it. Don’t be a bossy pants or smartass. Do it with love and compassion. This will make the controlling person feel safe. With time, he or she will become less controlling.

4. Level 3: It is our way or the highway.

There is nothing more painful than not being allowed to be who you are. In this family structure there isn’t a tyrant parent or guardian who is suppressing the individual rights of the family members. Rather, it’s the family as a whole. The family uses psychological persuasions to control and manipulate members. Sadly, these same methods are used as brainwashing techniques in cults and gangs. Naturally, people want to conform, partly because their fear of isolation and abandonment are so strong. After all, it is fear of non-acceptance that drives initiation in gangs to commit heinous crimes.

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In this family structure, the interest of the group takes precedence over the needs of the individual. As a result, the individual never really develops his or her own thoughts, or intuitive understanding. Sadly, the only way to become an individual is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Renowned speaker and author Brené Brown talks about the power of vulnerability. People falsely assume vulnerability means being weak, feeble or crying. In truth, vulnerability means having the courage to be who you are. First, you’ll need to peel away everything that is false about you. Then, you need to take some serious time to truly explore who you are. I like to use creative visualization methods to explore the deeper parts of self. However, meditating by a river, ocean or tree is enough to get you started.

5. Level 2: Mediocre Family. There are a lot of loosely regulated rules in this family structure.

Individuals within this family are allowed to voice their opinions. There is a considerable amount of empathy and respect. And rules are flexible and can be amended when needed. Members within this family structure work hard to break away from old destructive habits. They are able to step back and reflect. They are also able to understand and respect people’s differences. Members in these families are able to sit down and talk, and come to a truce to stop the perpetual battles over turf and power.

6. Level 1: The best of the best.

This is the kind of structure that is often displayed on hit television shows like The Cosby Show and Full House. Members within these family structures offer each other a sense of love and security. Unlike most gangs, this family structure is incredibly efficient with a strong sense of security. Members don’t abuse their power. They communicate well, and are open to love and intimacy. If your family is not at level one, there is no need to worry. You don’t need to work to try and change them. Instead, observe them from a distance. Then work to make optimum changes within yourself, by doing this, you’ll break dysfunctional patterns. And you will begin to shift the dynamics of your whole family structure.

Featured photo credit: http://www.shutterstock.com/ via shutterstock.com

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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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