Identify and describe two communication rules in your family. Explore how these rules have affected patterns of interaction among family members.
I really like the idea, mentioned earlier, of trying to show respect to elders. This is something I have tried to do all my life, usually successfully. Even when my elders (such as respected teachers) have urged me to call them by their first names, I have had a difficult time doing it. I've almost always tended to assume that people who are older than I am are entitled to at least the presumption that they may be wiser.
We never go to bed mad at each other. Everyone says goodnight and I love you, and arguments cannot continue in to the next day. This makes for the occasional late night, but it is always better in the morning!
My wife does not respond well to yelling, so disagreements are always handled calmly. We phone each other at least once a day at work, and I have determined to never (or at least almost never) lie to her about anything.
Our most important rule is to not interrupt one another. It seems like an easy thing, but my young kids get so excited about whatever it is they want to share that they don't wait for the other one to stop talking. Then, they get mad at each other and start another fight, and what started as excitement and happiness devolves into hurt feelings.
One rule we have is to come into the room with the person you are talking to in order to avoid yelling a conversation. It helps have more civil conversations especially since we are already a loud family (we have 3 daughters who all talk a lot!)
Another rule is to be respectful in talking to one another. Rather than issuing demands and orders, we try to ask people to help or make statements about things that need to be done.
That being said, we are not always successful, but it was what strive for :)
One thing that I try very hard to keep as a rule for myself is to avoid exaggerating when I am talking to my kids. When they annoy me, it is important for me not to say "you always do x" because of course they don't always do that.
I don't know if this has really affected patterns of interaction because this is the sort of rule whose results (if any) are only seen long-term.
One rule in my family is that we try to honor our elders in our communications and actions. This has been a good rule growing up and I try to instill this in my kids as well. This has translated into children who know how to respect older people - whether they are part of the family or not. I believe that this is an important social lesson and one that our society needs as well. Too often the elderly are neglected, when they should be taken care of and honored.
Second, in my family we also emphasize the importance of good manners. For example, we teach children to say "thank you," "you are welcome," "please," and the like. This has created a family atmosphere that is very cordial, loving, and pleasant. When this is translated into the public this also has a very positive role, as people are often shocked in a good way at the good manners of my children.