In Family Meeting Basics I suggest that you put away all electronic distractions. This includes phones, TV, or tablets. This allows you to focus on the speaker and his or her needs. Banishing these electronics in a family meeting can help limit the interruptions.
There are other interruptions though that can be a problem when you’re listening. These are the interruptions that come from your head – your thinking. We think about what we want to say next. We think about a question we want to ask immediately. We think about a judgment we are making of the person speaking. We think about our own experiences which tie to the topic. When our thinking gets too loud, we often interrupt the speaker in order to express it. Don’t. In a family meeting, it’s a good idea to have the person speaking hold something to indicate it’s their time in the spot light. This could be a feather like some Native American tribes use, or it could be a fidget toy of some kind to keep hands busy. This is a physical reminder to the speaker that there is no rush to get their words out. It’s also a physical reminder to the listeners that right now you are to do just that – listen.
When you hold back your interruptions you may realize that what you wanted to say wasn’t important after all. It also might make you realize that the question you were dying to ask was actually answered by the speaker without you needing to ask. If you are afraid that you’ll forget your question, don’t fret. You could always ask it later.
Since the family meeting is designed to increase dialogue, it’s important to be a good speaker and listener. Focus only on the person speaking. Without judging. Without interrupting. You will find that it’s actually a pretty amazing feeling which is usually more satisfying than interrupting. Obviously you should also apply this no interrupting policy to your interactions at work and with your friends.
Let me know about your experience of not interrupting. Share with me your successes, your frustrations and your challenges.
Ever notice how we make things all about us?
Yes we have such roles as “mom”, “dad”, “brother”, and “employee.” But what about other roles we play? Let’s say you’re having a family meeting tonight. You all sit down together uninterrupted to discuss the week’s events and the upcoming vacation. Who will be the note taker? Who will be the meeting facilitator? These are roles that can be filled by different members at different meetings.
I’m sorry this wasn’t posted before Thanksgiving when many families get together. But….you will have the information now, which means over the next month when you interact with your siblings, you could make an effort to improve the communication. The 10 suggestions in this article are basic, yet very helpful when put into practice. Small changes in our communication can often improve our interactions with our family. Happy sibling interaction!
I already posted that changing your communication (and as a result, your relationships), is your responsibility (see my October 25th post). Let me add something else. I am often quoted by people as saying “It’s not your problem to fix” (see my “Quotes” tab at the top of my web page).
Now, here is what I mean by that. Often times we try to fix others, help them understand what’s going on, or even save them from disaster. Although I know you mean well, and are probably right in your assessment of the other person’s issue, keep in mind that sometimes it’s just not your problem to fix. This could mean that other’s need to make the mistake and learn from it. It also means, that sometimes other people need us to butt out of their business. Often times we even worry excessively about what someone else is doing. This is where I say “It’s not your problem to fix.”