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How to Keep Family Relationships Intact with Geni

How to Keep Family Relationships Intact with Geni
Geni Family Tree view

    There was a time when it was easy to keep up with your family – they lived down the road, on the block or nearby in the city.

    That time passed decades ago, with technological advances in transport and communication, and now families can be strewn across the country, or even the world.

    But those same advances in technology and communication that keep families apart can also relieve the relationship deterioration that geographical separation can cause. One of those advances is the genealogy web application Geni.

    My father and I had a discussion about our family history and recently decided to collaborate online using this application. I didn’t realize it was anything more than a genealogy service when we signed up.

    Geni is a family tree app that allows you to record data about your living relatives and your ancestors going back generations, but also part social network that can keep family members in touch and appraised of each others’ news.

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    Profiles

    Geni Profile view

      Profiles form most of Geni’s social network capabilities. Much like other networks such as Facebook, you can find typical profile data about the person you’re looking at, though the data tends to be more accurate and personal. Here you can see an individual’s birthdate, location, place of birth, immediate family and email address, as well as statistics such as relatives, in-laws, ancestors and descendants.

      The sidebar also contains historical data, such as an individual’s work and education history, and there’s a section for adding personal trivia—want to let everyone know what your favorite movies, hobbies and cuisines are? No? Well, there’s a place to specify this anyway.

      There’s also a thumbnail array showing the profiles of your immediate family, with tabs for ancestors or descendants—useful for immediately determining which part of the family the person is in, in case they are too distant for you to remember (either that or you’re just a bad relative!).

      Of course, like every social network, there’s the guestbook, which is just like Facebook’s wall.

      Family News

      genifamilynewsview.jpg

        When you log-in to Geni the first thing you’ll see is the Family News page. Here, you’ll be able to see both news posted by family members and recent changes or additions to the tree, as well as individual profile modifications or image uploads. It’s the hub of recent activity both in your tree and your family’s lives, if they update diligently.

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        You can select who you receive news from, so if your Geni tree has grown as large as mine, you won’t need to know about the latest tea party your wife’s great-aunt’s-stepchild’s-sister-in-law is holding.

        This page is a lifesaver, coupled with the next feature which has done my poor memory a whole lot of service.

        Event Reminders

        I didn’t know when my brother-in-law’s birthday was or which day my uncle and aunt celebrate their anniversary until I started using Geni. Now, I can look like I actually do care. That’s not how it sounds; I usually do, but I forget these things like any good male does. Geni reminds me of the things I should have remembered on my own so I can send off an email or make a phone call to the person in question.

        I’m not sure yet whether Geni sends reminders for death anniversaries. For the sake of good taste, I hope not.

        Calendar

        genicalendarview.jpg

          The calendar allows you to peruse all the events for the next year. If you’re either incredibly slack or have a really unhealthy relationship with productivity hacks, you can head to your email program and schedule messages to go out for each event, but you better not mess up the scheduling!

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          This calendar not only tells you when wedding anniversaries occur, but also which substance or valuable metal represents that anniversary. For instance, later this year I’m having a cotton anniversary. Nobody told me about this before.

          The calendar has a checkbox for displaying the events of the deceased. Ever wanted to head down to the cemetery and wish your great-grandparents a happy 74th anniversary? How about singing happy birthday to Uncle Ted who met his fate at the aquarium that couldn’t afford to put a lid on the shark tank? This feature is a little creepy to me, but I can see how it might be of interest to some.

          Inbox

          I know there’s email, but when you check it each morning, I might send off an email to see how Relative X is going is probably not one of your first thoughts. This feature is useful simply because while you’re inside the Geni application, your focus is on family members and you’re more likely to send that message off.

          The recipient of your message will be notified by email so if they haven’t logged in for a year, they’ll still know about it. Whether they read it or not is another story, but at least you can say you tried at the next reunion.

          From a purely technical point of view, this kind of feature is a bit redundant, considering the email address of each member is on their profile page. But given the common condition known as email blindness and the context of this app, it’s bound to help you keep family relationships intact at least a little bit more.

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          Privacy

          Both the family tree and the social network are kept private amongst members of the family, though there is an option to make the family tree and some social network information public.

          For me, this defeats the purpose of using the application and offers some privacy concerns. For instance, can you opt-out of the public tree? And if individuals can opt-out, doesn’t this make the public family tree incredibly inaccurate for those doing casual online research? I’m sure there will be interested individuals, and the option will be there for them.

          Geni offers features I like and some that I don’t like so much or find particularly relevant, given the purposes I use this service for. But no matter what you’re looking for in the world of collaborative genealogy or family relationship maintenance, Geni can help.

          If your relatives live up the road, here’s a tip: face-to-face communication works a lot better.

          More by this author

          Joel Falconer

          Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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          Last Updated on February 11, 2021

          Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

          Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

          How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

          Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

          The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

          Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

          Perceptual Barrier

          The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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          The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

          The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

          Attitudinal Barrier

          Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

          The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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          The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

          Language Barrier

          This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

          The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

          The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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          Emotional Barrier

          Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

          The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

          The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

          Cultural Barrier

          Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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          The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

          The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

          Gender Barrier

          Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

          The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

          The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

          And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

          Reference

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