Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Like most families, my family has had its ups and downs. During my teenage years my household had its turbulent moments. There were times when we spoke in anger and communicated poorly. There were times when we felt unheard and misunderstood.

 

As I’ve matured and reflected on the part that I had to play, I realize that my approach to my family has changed over the years. I’ve learnt assertiveness and developed the capacity to both say sorry and forgive quickly. I have tried to empathize and understand my parents as best I can. I’ve made a point of spending quality time with them and have expressed my love more.

 

But even the strongest of families can have difficulty over the holidays, when stress is high and tensions fraught. Visits from extended family and the desire to host ‘the perfect Christmas’ all serve to add pressure to an already stressful time of year.

 

I realize now that there were ten key behaviors I fostered to deepen my family bonds. Use these behaviors to ensure your family bonds remain strong over this holiday season, allowing you to navigate the holidays with grace and ease.

 

Behavior One – Body Language

 

Often we are unconscious of our facial expressions and unaware how our body language may be interpreted by others. I have often rolled my eyes without even realizing it. One of the ways we can communicate in a loving way with our family is by the conscious use of body language.

 

Smiling is a very welcoming way to communicate our affection. Using open body language, such as our arms not covering our torso, indicates that we are receptive to the other person. Tilting our head to one side indicates that we are actively listening and genuinely interested in what the other is saying. By using positive non-verbal communication we can immediately strengthen interactions with our family.

 

Behavior Two – Be You

 

Being honest about who you are is key in developing an authentic bond between family members. Share what’s important to you and express when your opinions differ in a sensitive, diplomatic and calm way. Only once you express who you truly are will you be able to develop greater intimacy with your family. For a more in-depth look at how to live authentically, read ‘How to Stop Worrying What People Think And Start Being Authentic in 6 Easy Steps’.

 

Stay tuned – next week we look at how empathy, giving your undivided attention and spending quality time together helps strengthen family bonds.

 

What does your body language convey when you are with your family? Are you honest about who you are to family members? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Exercises:

 

  1. The next time you communicate with your family try to moderate your tone of voice and body language so that you convey your interest and see the effect.
  2. Write down everything your family doesn’t know about your likes and dislikes and commit to sharing one thing from the list the next time you see them.