Every family has times when things get complicated and our busy lifestyle means we may not be giving each other the time and attention we should. If you have reached a situation where you need to convene a family meeting and discuss a difficult issue, here are a few tips that might help you reach a positive outcome.

Come to the meeting with facts not feelings
Our emotions can be our own worst enemies especially when we are discussing an issue that we have very strong feelings about. It may be useful to begin the family meeting by setting down some basic rules about mutual respect and avoiding accusations. You could begin by asking everyone to take turns in expressing how they are feeling at that moment in time. By identifying and expressing our emotions we can actually gain a little more control over them and it helps everyone else know how you feel. When emotions start to rise remind everyone to try and keep focused on the facts of the discussion.

Confirm that you have heard and understood what the others have said
Communication is difficult and sometimes we think we have expressed ourselves clearly only to discover that the other person has a completely different interpretation of what has just been said. Once a person has put forward their thoughts or views it is very useful to repeat back to them what you have understood from their words. That way any inaccurate interpretations can be clarified straight away, before any misunderstandings arise.

Be an active listener
It also involves letting the other person speak without interrupting them. This is a very under-rated skill.

Speak and listen with openness
Always be respectful of each person at the meeting and use a tone of voice that is neutral. Keep your body language open as being defensive in tone, speech or body will potentially offend the other person. The aim is for everyone to be able to state what they need or want and everyone at the meeting should feel able to do the same.
Finally, be willing to compromise and negotiate. It can also be a good idea to have some fun after the meeting, so that everyone relaxes a little after the event.

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