If you’re tired of feeling like the only way your children end up listening to you is when you yell at them, but you yearn for a better way... you know there’s a better way. Then you are in for a treat. If you want to open up lines of communication stress-free.
*This is a podcast episode. I'll be asking questions and my expert guest will answer them.*
Why is communication part of living a healthy life?
We all strive to be the best parents we can.Whether we adopt, foster, or biologically have children, they are our lives. Since the first day you found out you were going to be a parent you read all the best books and latest information. We got advice from people you trust. You may have even safety proof your entire home.
What can I say, we love our kids. Am I right?
But here a bit of harsh truth. Even the best books are no comparison to encountering real life situations.
And one in particular I know all parents struggle with in some form is communication.
Today I’m talking with communication expert Rachael Walker from "Beyond The Pond Coaching" in the UK on the best ways to set up boundaries and explore attitudes for consistently enjoyable communication experiences with your child, your spouse, or your boss.
Hi Racheal, welcome to the Easy Keto Podcast.
“The best ways to set up boundaries and explore attitudes for consistently enjoyable communication experiences with your child, your spouse, or your boss.”
The story of how Rachael mastered communication
Tell us about yourself. What brought you to do communications work?
I have always loved words and been fascinated with why people behave as they do. Even as a child, if people got angry, my immediate reaction would be to think ‘why did they do that?’
Throughout my working life, I have always been involved with children. As I became more experienced (and had my own) I began to notice that the single biggest barrier to effective learning (be that academic or social) seemed to be on the communication front.
Fast forward to work and I began volunteering at the school my daughter went to. I had the privilege of working with a young lad who was on the Autism spectrum. I think he taught me more about the importance of good quality communication than anyone else. You have to be specific and make sure your non-verbal signals are clear and congruent. You also have to be curious and get into that little person’s world so you can meet them where they are instead of expecting them to accommodate you.
I learned that once I was able to enter that world things started getting a lot easier for both of us. I used what I’d learned as my career continued and always, it was the quality of communication that got results.
I was fortunate to stumble across NLP and it blew my mind! I trained as a practitioner and what I learned allowed me to work at a totally different level, it was astonishing.
It taught me a new way of thinking about, not only how we communicate with others, but how we communicate with ourselves. The impact that can have on us and the ones we care about can be far reaching without us even realizing.
I was lucky to have learnt this while my kids were young and they benefitted tremendously (as did I!). Having left working in education some years ago, I was still passionate about helping people develop their communication skills as I know what a huge difference it made to me, my family and the children I was privileged to support.
I believe that the way people learn best is when they’re interested and self-motivated so training as a coach suited me perfectly. I can provide a framework and in a program I share principles, tools and techniques, but you choose how to implement them in your home. So, you’re in the driving seat!
“I had the privilege of working with a young lad who was on the Autism spectrum. I think he taught me more about the importance of good quality communication than anyone else.”
What are the common struggles of communication?
What seems to be some common struggles when it comes to communication?
Some really common struggles when it comes to communication are...
1. Not listening
‘If you think you know it already, you’re not listening.’
Hearing and listening are worlds apart. You’re often more focused on your response rather than the actual information you’re being given. In an emotionally charged situation, like an argument, you’re usually focused on getting your point across and getting your needs met that you don’t actually listen.
Sometimes, you’ve also decided that you know what the other person is going to say so you hear what you expect to hear and not what’s actually being said. Anything they’re trying to say misses you completely and they feel devalued and unimportant.
“Sometimes, you’ve also decided that you know what the other person is going to say so you hear what you expect to hear and not what’s actually being said.”
2. Not speaking up until you’ve reached boiling point
‘It is more powerful to speak up than to actively resent.’
When you let things build up you make them bigger and bigger and they become more emotionally charged. A bit like the layers of an onion. If you don’t say something while your onion is small, each experience adds another layer. Your ‘onion’ gets bigger until you reach a point where you explode.
There is usually a lot of emotional upset (for you and those involved) and resentment that you don’t feel listened to. It’s easy then to associate this with saying what you think or how you feel. Something like... “I can’t say what I think/feel because when I do everything kicks off” or “What’s the point? No-one cares anyway!”.
What’s actually caused the situation to escalate isn’t you saying how you feel, it’s that you left things until your emotions overwhelmed your ability to think. They built up to such a level that things were interpreted by your brain as a threat and so knocked half of it offline, leaving you fight, flight or freeze options only. So, you lose your temper, storm out or withdraw. Often others do too.
“What’s actually caused the situation to escalate isn’t you saying how you feel, it’s that you left things until your emotions overwhelmed your ability to think.”
3. Reacting rather than responding
‘When you react, you give away your power, when you respond you remain in control.’
Speaking without thinking. Just blurting out what’s in your head with no thought to how it will be received. Doing this can really damage a situation, as what you say might not be directly relevant and this can send things off in a different direction.
You end up arguing about something completely different and end up exhausted and no further forward than before you opened your mouth!
Even if what you do say is relevant, the way you say it could have an adverse impact on the feelings of others and cause them to react in a negative way.
4. Wanting to Win
‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’.
This is an example of a strength becoming a weakness. Winning is great, but where there are winners there must be losers. Who is the loser if you win every time? What’s the cost of your victory?
Winning in this context can teach children that what they think isn’t important, so they stop communicating. It can also teach them that you have to win at any cost so it doesn’t matter how you behave; it’s coming out on top that’s important.
5. Being scared of what reaction you’ll get
‘If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.’
Often, especially with children situations arise when as a parent, you have to step in and say something. This is not always well received and it can be tempting to say nothing. One of the problems with this is that communication then begins to break down.
If you’ve done like I mentioned earlier and waited until you’re ready to explode before mentioning something, chances are that you may have felt the need to make up for your outburst – buying a gift or letting them off a consequence.
Your child then doesn’t think you mean what you say and acts out all the more each time you step in. Or, you might have reached the point where you don’t see the point in saying anything, you don’t think anyone cares and this is the negative mind chatter you experience if you do attempt to speak, making you feel worse and creating inner conflict.
We basically just started and already your words are so juicy and so full of goodness. I’m so excited for the rest of this conversation. And I must say I’m loving the quotes. I’ve always been a quote person. Many of these
quotes I’ve written on my white board. For inspiration, motivation, and sometimes the wording is put so perfectly... in a way that you may have thought about, but weren’t able to formulate. Those are my favorite types of quotes to find. Ugh, okay this is so good let’s keep going.
This is what healthy communication looks like...
From your experience, what does healthy communication look like?
1. Wanting to understand
‘Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply’ – I love that quote! Learning to practice active listening is a skill and it’s one that’s well worth developing.
Asking questions and being genuinely curious about the answers, can get you out of many tricky situations! The amount of stress I’ve saved myself over the years by simply stopping and asking ‘What’s happened?’ before I steamed in, is unbelievable!
Focus on your child first, what are they actually saying? Then reflect back what you think you heard before you respond. “So, what you’re saying is...” this means they know you listened and gives them a chance to let you know if you misunderstood so you can be sure that when you respond, you are focusing on the right thing. Real listening is about understanding what’s going on for your child so you have as much information as possible to help you reach a solution.
“Real listening is about understanding what’s going on for your child so you have as much information as possible to help you reach a solution.”
2. Being prepared to listen
‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.’
My Gran used to say that to me over and over when I was kid (maybe I talked too much?!). I’ve mentioned that not listening is a barrier but it’s so important in developing healthy communication. Real, in depth listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child (or anyone, for that matter). It gives you a window into their world and makes them feel valued, so they’re more likely to listen to you and be receptive to what you have to say.
3. Being honest and open
‘Open your mind before you open your mouth.’
Saying what you think and feel or saying what needs to be said is really important. Obviously, the way you say things has to be considered, but letting your child know where they stand or letting them know what’s happening makes things as fair as possible because everyone then knows what’s going on. The emphasis is on saying what you feel/think, not saying they made you feel angry or upset or whatever. It’s more about owning your own feelings rather than pushing the blame on to your child. Even being open about mundane things can be beneficial, but only say what you’re prepared to do, so you build trust and confidence in your relationship.
“The emphasis is on saying what you feel/think, not saying they made you feel angry or upset or whatever."
4. Responding rather than reacting
‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
Giving yourself time to pause, especially when things become heated, gives both of you time to calm down. If you’re being asked to do something, a pause gives you chance to think whether you can or whether you want to! You can respond from a place of thought rather than just feeling.
5. Being aware of how attitudes and beliefs influence behavior
‘Your attitude is an expression of your values, beliefs and expectations.’
If you believe something often enough, it becomes embedded as fact in your brain and can then become a self-fulfilling prophesy. What you focus on expands so it can be easy to get drawn in to a reality that isn’t entirely real and start acting as if it is.
Becoming aware of what you think and how you show up can be a real asset in developing healthy communication. You can start to challenge yourself and unpick unhelpful thought patterns that are getting in the way of great interactions with your child.
Our thoughts influence, not only our words, but our non-verbal signals and our behavior. Being more aware of what’s going on inside gives you more choices when communicating in any situation.
Questions you NEED to ask yourself to start changing the way you communicate
Are there questions I need to ask myself in order to start changing the way I communicate?
That’s a great question. Training yourself to ask yourself questions is a great way to begin to effect change. Challenging what you currently think and how you operate can lead to really useful insights.
Questions you can ask yourself in order to start changing the way you communicate are...
- How am I coming across?
- What do I want to achieve from this interaction?
- Do I really know what’s going on here?
- What are my expectations?
- What has happened before that might mean I get a negative reaction now?
- What can I do to reduce that negativity?
- Am I reacting or responding?
- Do I need to give us both a pause?
- Have I actually said what is going to happen?
Recognizing your preferred communication style can also be useful. The personality profiling tool that I use is DISC. It looks at four main styles, each with different traits, strengths and weaknesses and it’s really useful to see what your preferred style under stress (which is where most of the problems occur!) and how that fits, or conflicts, with your child’s style.
“It’s really useful to see what your preferred style under stress and how that fits, or conflicts, with your child’s style."
How to communicate with your kids...in a way that makes both people happy
Say, I’m having a hard time getting my child to eat their vegetables. I’m exhausted from practically having to yell at them to eat their veggies. I know there has to be a better way... Where do I start?
With any situation where you find yourself nagging or yelling to try to get your message through, consider...
1. What’s the earliest point you could start preparing for this?
So, with eating, (especially veggies) can they help you prep them? Can you present them in a different way? Can they choose what to buy? Can they grow them?
How important is this battle?[I had this actual battle with my daughter– the more I made it a thing the more I reinforced veggies meant a negative experience. I was also conscious she was starting to control the situation] **Listen to the Easy Keto Podcast to hear this [and many other] stories**
2. What’s worked before? What doesn’t work?
My Mum has spent the last sixty years shouting at my dad. No idea why, it has no effect whatsoever!
3. What could you do that you haven’t tried yet?
4. Do your non-verbal signals support what you’re saying?
If not, your children are getting mixed messages and they’ll pay more attention to the non-verbals.
How to get help if you feel alone in your communication struggles
Sometimes, we feel like we’re alone in our struggles. Is it common to see people encounter communication blocks?
It’s really common, with the majority of problems, for us to feel like we’re the only ones in this situation and when it comes to communicating with others, especially with our children, there is so much invested in the relationship that it can feel terrible when things go wrong.
No one wants to feel like a bad parent. Often, if people talk about the issues they are facing it can be couched in humor or pained acceptance of the behavior or is spoken about like it’s the child who’s at fault. Still you can be left with the sense that it’s you that’s getting it wrong and other people are coping better. Remember we have a strong tendency to compare our back stage with everybody else’s highlight reel!
Communication blocks are often the result of differing viewpoints. If you don’t realize someone has a different perspective to your own, it can feel like they’re just being awkward, stubborn or confrontational and this can make you feel defensive before you’ve even opened your mouth!
Children think differently to adults so it’s hardly surprising that misunderstandings occur. We’re all human!
Often, if you get chance to have an honest conversation with someone about how you feel, you will discover that what you thought was your problem only, is actually commonplace. It’s not just you!
“Communication blocks are often the result of differing viewpoints. If you don’t realize someone has a different perspective to your own..."
Do this when your bad communication habits come back...
From personal experience, I'm sure we both know that making mistakes is unavoidable...What advice would you give someone when their old ways of communicating start to creep in?
You’re absolutely right, making communication mistakes is an everyday occurrence. If you find your old communication patterns are creeping back...
● Notice what’s creeping back and give yourself time to pause (you can reflect later on what’s coming up for you and how you can unpick it.) What purpose is it serving?
● Remind yourself why you want to change the way you communicate (finding your ‘why’ connects you to your emotions and is a strong motivator)
● Reconnect as the new you (start again, you can’t change the beginning, but you can create a new ending)
It’s worthwhile acknowledging that change takes time and doesn’t always follow an upward trajectory. Mistakes will happen, it’s called being human!
Accepting that we all make mistakes (and that these are evidence of growth and of us learning something new) is a helpful way to frame this. Beating yourself up achieves nothing positive.
Also, when things go well, give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate even if it’s just something small. You can involve your children too, point out to them when things have changed and how much nicer it is.
So, we should write down our old communication habits, what we want to change, and why we want to change them. That way when we make a mistake we can refer to that paper and help us to reconnect to our “new you.”
Improve your listening right now with these techniques
So, we should write down our old communication habits, what we want to change, and why we want to change them. That way when we make a mistake we can refer to that paper and help us to reconnect to our “new you.”
If you take one thing away, I would suggest this -give yourself a chance to engage your brain before you open your mouth! Give yourself time to think, so you can respond not react
Top tips to start communicating better are
1. Practice listening. Taking time to really listen, without imposing your judgment or getting defensive will build up trust and make your child feel valued
2. Ask, so you are really sure you know what’s going on- don’t assume. We all see things from our own point of view. That doesn’t mean we always get it right
3. Check in with yourself. What are you telling yourself? Is it helpful? Do you need time to change your state before you start talking? Why do you want to say what you want to say? Are you wanting to find a solution or relieve an emotion?
4. Pick your battles! You aren’t striving for perfection. Is it really necessary to impose a sanction? Is there a natural consequence that your child will have to accept instead?
5. Say what you mean and mean what you say (and do this consistently). Consistency promotes a feeling of security and can reduce boundary pushing, which, in turn, reduces your stress and increases enjoyable family time
Empower your entire life with these exclusive communication programs
I heard you have something to share with the listeners... Can you tell us more about that?
I’m developing two programs. The "A, B, C of Communication" and "Talking T.A.C.T.I.C.S."
"A, B, C of Communication" is a coaching program that enables you to communicate confidently without shouting and feeling stressed or guilty.
We dig deep so you understand how your beliefs and values influence the way you communicate. You can then choose which helpful patterns you want to keep and which are unhelpful that you want to ditch.
"Talking T.A.C.T.I.C.S." is about communication that creates cooperation. It’s a 90 day coaching program that can be completed 1-1 or as part of a small group.
The program is made up of seven modules, unravelling different aspects of effective, positive communication. We’ll cover topics including listening, presence, body language and specific talking techniques.
The best place to improve all your relationships, get results, and empower your life
Visit www.beyondthepondcoaching.com to connect with Rachael Walker, founder and head communications coach at Beyond The Pond Coaching.
You can also reach out to Rachael personally to talk more about her coaching programs and learn which one is the best fit for you!
She was kind enough to share here email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ladies and gents. If you’ve been struggling with communication. With your child, with your spouse, or even in the workplace Rachel is your go-to woman.
As you heard today she has been able to break down communication barriers and can help you to be them back up the right way.
Make sure to visit her website or contact her via email to improve your communication skills and make your life a whole lot easier.
In this podcast episode, you'll hear:
- From communications expert Racheal Walker at Beyond The Pond Coaching
- Why all parents struggle with communication
- 5 common communication struggles that may be hurting your relationships
- 5 signs of healthy communication and the opportunities they create
- Ask yourself these simple questions to change the way you communicate (HINT: it starts with us)
- 5 ways to get your child to happily eat their vegetables >>Parents! I guarantee you have NOT heard about these methods before<<
- Why social media is not your communication friend + 4 other common communication blocks
- Already working on being a better you? We also touch on 5 ways to readjust quickly when your old ways of communicating start to creep in
- 5 magically tips to improve your communication right after you listen to this episode
- Plus 2 incredible communication programs from Rachael! You don't want to miss it!
This expert interview is jam-packed with incredible gems of knowledge meant to empower your life, so you can thrive!
- This program has been created for real people who want to eat real food that tastes great and melts fat fast.