Miscommunication. It happens almost daily in our homes.

One family member says something and the other family member totally mishears, misunderstands, or misinterprets what was said. This can cause confusion, laughter, or frustration.

Maybe you’ve experienced the power of misunderstandings in your life. Misunderstandings affect our productivity in our workplaces and friendships. In our homes, misunderstandings can become a threat to our otherwise healthy family relationships.

Our family sometimes plays a board game called CODENAMES. One team member gives a one-word clue that is meant to help their teammates guess related words. It’s amazing and frustrating to experience how often misunderstanding clouds the intended communication!

Communication is one of the most challenging areas of family life. In some ways, our communication defines our relationship. In our families, communication is like oxygen. When our communication is off, our family relationships will not be all that they can be.

Misunderstandings are one of the biggest problems in communication. Here are three things you can do to minimize the negative impact of misunderstandings in your family.

Listen Intensely
Active listening includes eye contact, proximity, and focus. I’ll be honest, my attention is flighty at times. I know I will be a better communicator if I give and get eye contact before I talk with a family member. How many parents have yelled instructions to their kid from another room? Go to them! How many times have you been staring at a screen or busy with a task when a family member is trying to talk with you? Look at them! Strive for eye contact to avoid misunderstandings.

Intense listening also includes echoing back what the other person is saying so they get a chance to clarify what they said or meant. This can come in the form of a question. Don’t just think of what you are going to say next while the other person is talking – listen!

Summarizing a conversation can also be helpful. Agree together on what was shared or decided. It should be okay for family members to double check times, dates, locations, or other important details to ensure clarity.

Assume The Best
Misunderstandings are often caused by assumptions. We might think we know what the other person means or what they want out of a situation, but then when something goes wrong, we assume the other person is out to get us or did something on purpose to hurt us.

Misunderstandings can abound especially in our fast-paced, stress-filled lifestyle. It really helps to give the person the benefit of the doubt when a gap occurs between what you were expecting and what a family member does. There might be a good reason for the gap and you will be in the best position to solve the problem and strengthen your relationship if you decide to assume the best of the other person.

In the game CODENAMES, after a confusing round, we discuss what we really meant, the missed cues, and the wrong assumptions that we had. You can do this in real life too; be generous and assume the best.

Make The First Move
When you know there is a miscommunication between you and another family that member, go to them. It’s not easy to make the first move but you know that if a problem is left for a while, it can get worse. Do what you can to correct misunderstandings right away. Don’t wait for the other person to come to you first. Romans 12:8 challenges us as family members, whether we are parents or kids!

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

A good way to start a conversation about a miscommunication is, ‘’I think we might have a misunderstanding between us that I’d like to talk about. Is now a good time for you?” Then be willing to humbly communicate until there is clarity.

Strengthen your family by strengthening your communication. Improve your communication by listening actively, assuming the best, and making the first move.