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Communication and getting along at home

Living with the highs and lows of other people’s mood can make communication tough. This article explains why mis-communication happens.
Family eating around a table
© University of Reading

Many of us are spending a lot more time at home at the moment. Hopefully you’ve found some positives in this, and have been able to enjoy quality time, going on walks, playing games, having longer conversations or just spending quiet time together on shared activities.

But living with the highs and lows of other people’s mood can also make communication tough. Most of us are dealing with difficult emotions, from time to time, related to the stresses of the pandemic. It’s likely that those you live with will also have times when they are struggling.

Communication between those at home is not always easy, and can sometimes be fraught, tense or confrontational. Whilst it’s likely that most households are experiencing some conflict at the moment, research shows that this is higher in families when teenagers are experiencing low mood and depression.


When we’re low, we sometimes misinterpret what others are saying, assuming a more negative meaning. Low mood has a sneaky way of twisting things and blowing things out of proportion. We often don’t even realise that we’re doing it.

Some of these misinterpretations can mean that when a friend or family member speaks to us, we might interpret it, or hear it, differently. For example:

They say You hear
“Are you going to do some school work this morning?” “You’re not working hard enough”
“Have you spoken to your friends?” “You don’t have enough friends”
“Can you help me with dinner tonight?” “You never help out”
“Are you ok?” “There’s something wrong with you”

Have a look at a video demonstration in the next Step of how easy it can be to misinterpret what someone else is saying, particularly when you are feeling low or stressed.

© University of Reading
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COVID-19: Helping Young People Manage Low Mood and Depression

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