Yesterday, we set the stage for improving your conversations with family members by becoming a good listener. Today and tomorrow, the emphasis moves toward what you say and how you say it. As a Sandwiched Boomer, it is likely that you don’t have a lot of time to make your point – and the temptation may be to make it quickly without much thought. But you can actually be more efficient with your efforts and have a lasting effect if you put some energy into planning what you want to communicate and how best to be heard.
Communication is not only accomplished through words – we connect with others through body language as well. A hug can convey caring and support – maybe even more than any words we choose. A gentle touch can let your aging mother know that you value her or your sullen daughter that you are there for her. When a smile widens across your face, it will brighten the day for your fragile father or help your son recognize that you understand where he is coming from. Reaching out to hold the hand of your aging parent or growing child can remind them that your relationship is a strong, lasting one.
When you talk with your family members about important matters, set aside the time so that you can concentrate on them and the issues at hand. Look directly at you parents or children and let them know that you are interested in relating to them. Keep your tone calm and quiet. Use simple, direct language to begin the discussion. Try to stay on target and address the problem one step at a time. Be respectful of everyone’s feelings by resisting the urge to become argumentative when expressing your opinions.
Does this sound like a lot to think about? How have you connected with your family-in-flux? Please share with all of us what techniques work for you. Tomorrow we look at Sandwich Generation messages themselves to highlight effective ones.