If you have ever felt like the words you speak are falling on deaf ears, you may want to check out How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
The book is addressed to parents, mostly, but I have found the suggestions presented are useful in many other contexts, too. Teachers will no doubt find them useful, as well as anyone who wants to work on their communication skills or has ever had to deal with difficult people.
The authors learned many of their principles of effective communication from their teacher, Dr. Haim Ginnott, of Columbia University. They went on to hone their approach over many years through their experiences as parents and teachers.
The following principles are taken from Dr. Ginnott’s approach:
- Never deny or ignore a [person’s] feelings.
- Only behavior is treated as unacceptable, not the [person].
- Depersonalize negative interactions by mentioning only the problem. “I see a [broken lightbulb].”
- Attach rules to things, e.g., “[People] are not for hitting.”
- Dependence breeds hostility. Let [people] do for themselves what they can.
- Limit criticism to a specific event—don’t say “never”, “always”, as in: “You never listen,” “You always manage to break things”, etc.
- Refrain from using words that you would not want [anyone] to repeat.
- Ignore irrelevant behavior.
The book presents these ideas using amusing vignettes of common scenarios and how best to handle them. If you like this book, you may also be interested in the following by the same authors:
Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
Liberated Parents, Liberated Children
Between Brothers & Sisters: A Celebration of Life’s Most Enduring Relationship
How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk