Here is a simple “Do’s and Don’t’s” checklist of communication habits. See how you and your family measure up!

Poor
•Insults
•Interrupts
•Criticizes
•Lectures
•Looks away
•Slouches
•Sarcasm
•Goes silent
•Denial
•Commands
•Yells
•Swears
•Throws a tantrum

Good
•State the issue
•Take turns speaking
•Note good and bad
•Calmly disagree
•Simple and straightforward
•Make eye contact
•Sit up straight
•Talk in a normal tone
•Say what you feel
•Accept responsibility
•Ask nicely
•Use normal tone of voice
•Use emphatic but respectful language
•Cool it, count to 10, take a hike

Remember these general principles of effective communication:

1. Use active listening to encourage each person to express opinions and feelings.
2. Honestly express how you feel, good or bad, without being hurtful to your listener.
3. Show that you truly understand and respect the other person’s feelings.

(Adapted from “A Clinician’s Manual for Assessment and Family Intervention,” by Russell A. Barkley, Gwenyth H. Edwards, and Arthur L. Robin, The Guilford Press, 1999)