Every family has their own communication rules, whether explicit or implied, and creating boundaries around those rules can be really tricky territory. Creating boundaries with your family in regards to what can be shared and via what format can be a difficult conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one to have.
Lisa Mitchell, Communications Expert & Founder of Power Body Language, shares HOW to keep respect and privacy boundaries intact and family relationships in a positive and healthy space.
Tactic 1: Be Clear About Your Expectations Up Front
For most families, communication breakdowns happen when someone feels that their privacy has been violated or that something was disclosed about them or their children that they weren’t expecting to be shared. You may not feel like you should have to say “I expect you to keep this private” or “Please don’t post this on Social Media” but you really should be as clear as possible around your personal and specific expectations for privacy if you have them. You can’t assume that the person you’re sharing with has the same understanding of your privacy expectations so be clear and direct about what you are or are not OK with in terms of sharing.
Family communication conflict isn’t limited to sharing information and privacy, it also arises when family rules and boundaries get crossed. If someone in your family is interacting with you or your children in a way that doesn’t match with your household values or “rules” you have every right to address it and to request that they respect your wishes.
Tactic 2: Frame It In A Positive Way
How you frame and deliver your request can have a huge impact on how well it is received and how easily your request is honored or acknowledged. Although an infraction or violation of your family communication rule can incite an internal riot and make you angry or frustrated, it’s important that you choose your words, tone, and timing to address it carefully to avoid escalation or unnecessary additional drama. Instead of delivering a reprimand or making the person feel like they’re wrong, practice framing your statement in a way that honors their feelings but still is clear on what you expect and prefer.
An example of this would be if you have a grandparent visiting and they are choosing to not follow a household rule or behavior expectation with your child that you hold to be very important. Instead of saying “We don’t do that in our house!” with a scolding tone, try framing it in a gentler way such as “We are working really hard to teach (Child) how important it is to be respectful to others.” You’re basically saying the same thing but your word choice and delivery can make the difference between it being respected or escalating the situation in a negative way.
Tactic 3: Don’t Be Afraid To Defend Your Boundaries
If you’ve been clear on your expectations and you’ve framed your request in a positive way and your communication rules are still being disregarded or ignored, it’s time to take a tougher stance to defend your boundaries. This doesn’t mean that you have to create conflict or start a fight, but you can absolutely stop allowing that person to have opportunities to violate your trust and wishes. For people who overshare, stop looping them in to what is happening with you or your family. Stop the flow of information and give them less to share. And be clear on why you’re choosing to share less. Sometimes people don’t take it seriously or don’t think there will be negative consequences for their continued communications violations until there actually are.
Not everyone deserves access to you and your family and the details of your life. It’s up to you to decide who, how much, and how often you share. Don’t feel obligated to indulge people who don’t respect your communication boundaries.
For more information, visit www.powerbodylanguage.com, or connect with Lisa on Instagram: @lisamitchellindy.