Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we examined the importance of body language and being yourself around your family. This week we explore how empathy, giving your undivided attention and spending quality time together improve family bonds.

 

Behavior Three – Empathize and Seek to Understand

 

With different generations and family roles there are different perspectives. Try to imagine what you might think and how you might feel about a situation if you were older or a mother.  Ask questions to better understand other family members like ‘why do you think that?’ or ‘how did that make you feel?’ Once you understand their perspective show them you empathize by saying ‘that must have been really frustrating’ or ‘I imagine that was quite hurtful’. This will show your family you hear what they are saying, understand them and appreciate where they are coming from.

 

 

Behavior Four – Give Your Undivided Attention

 

Actively listen to your family and value their contribution. Take the time to be present and really focus on – and be interested in – what they are saying. Ask follow up questions which invite open ended answers such as ‘what did you decide to do?’ or ‘how did that affect you?’

 

Behavior Five – Spend Quality Time Together

 

To keep family bonds strong it is essential that family members spend quality time together. It is worth remembering that what you may class as ‘quality time’ another person might not. Try to find things which you both think are fun. If you can’t find any common ground, divide your quality time equally between things which you and they like to do. Spending valued time together will create happy memories and make you closer as a result.

 

Stay tuned – next week we discover the importance of being affectionate, thoughtful and quick to apologize when strengthening family relations.

 

Do you try to empathize with and understand your family? How much undivided attention do you offer them? How often do you spend quality time together? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Exercises:

 

  1. Think of a disagreement you had with your family and try to place yourself in their position and imagine their thoughts, feelings and concerns. Commit to doing this exercise whenever you have future disagreements.
  2. When your family next communicates with you try to really focus on what they are saying and the potential meaning behind their words and see how much the quality of your interaction improves.
  3. Book in a time over the next week to spend some quality time with one of your family members, whether it is by phone, Skype or in person.