Helpful Hints for Adult Family Communication
By Frederick W, Brown, MD
August 18, 2022
Category: Articles
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MAKE “I” STATEMENTS.
Take ownership of feelings and beliefs.
You know what you feel and think, it is OK to share it.
-I feel dismissed when you say “shut up,” Is far more productive
than
-you are a jerk when you say “shut up.”

BE SENSORY BASED- HERE AND NOW.
Communication goes best when based on here and now, not on your “projection” of another’s thoughts/ feelings.
Mind-reading, when one claims to “know” what another is thinking or feeling, is almost always
inaccurate and therefor not appropriate in helpful, productive communication.

MAINLY FOCUS ON THE FUTURE.
The past is done, never to be retrieved or modified or undone.
The future is vast, and has unlimited potential for change.
Utilizing communication time on what can be changed vs what can’t be, is more productive.
Driving a car has the best ratio of position/ time focus.
40% on present/ immediate, 50% on future/long-range, and 10% on rear-view, past.
Productive communication should have same ratio of time focus.
40% on present/ immediate, 50% on future/long-range, and 10% on rear-view, past.
Sometimes clarification of past behaviors, verbalizations, issues is important; but only to extent that will
bring a desired future.
Some people are excessively focused on the past, and it will take skills/ patience, rapport to help them
refocus on the past.

REQUESTS SHOULD BE “POSITIVE.”
The brain has trouble dealing with negatives.
“Don’t think about a pink elephant,” never leads to that result.
Any requests or suggestions will be more likely to be performed if stated in the positive.
“Don’t swear at me” vs “Speak politely.”
“Don’t do that again,” vs “Be honest wtih me.”

EACH PERSON HAS THE RIGHT TO SAY “TIME OUT” IF OVERWHELMED.
We all have different thresholds of being able to process information.
If we are overwhelmed, we “shut down, dissociate, disconnect” and are unable to
process what is being said, or discussed.
If feeling overwhelmed/confused, it is OK to ask for “time-out” to become “centered, present.”
-in a therapy session, this may be for 20-40 sec. before returning to the issue in calm manner.
-at home/office, maybe 15 min or 12 hr may be required before returning to issue.
“Time out” is not designed as a method to ignore, deny the issue; but to allow it to be better heard/understood.

LISTENING/ UNDERSTANDING WILL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE THAN DIRECTING/ TELLING/ SUGGESTIONS.
Helpful productive converstation is based on understanding the thoughts/feelings of all envolved.
When we are talking, we are not understanding/ processing the other person(s) point of view.
If one listens more than talks, understanding will be advanced.

MAINTAIN RAPPORT BY VOICE VOLUME AND SUMMARY STATEMENTS
We unconsciously like “people like ourselves.”
Therefore, we like people who talk with the volume/ pace we do.
Almost always, talking calmly, with a normal volume is better received than being yelled at someone.
Backtracking, summarizing what was just said, is helpful to increase rapport and promote understanding.
“Are you saying that you will be more responsive to me when I talk quietly and am not judgemental?”

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