Do you ever find yourself in a conversation with someone close to you, thinking, "That's not what I meant!"
Getting others to understand what we are trying to say is not always easy. We’ve all had frustrating conversations when it seemed that no matter how hard we tried, we could not get the other person to understand us.
Good communication involves not only choosing the right words. Our gestures, tone of voice, the look on our faces, and even silences are all part of our message. These things sometimes tell even more than the words we speak.
It can be tough for people without chronic disease to communicate, but communication may be even harder for those diagnosed with COPD. Expressing yourself to your caregiver can be especially challenging. When one person’s role changes due to physical or emotional limitations, that can sometimes make communication more difficult. This check in, posted in February, Check in –Who Takes Out the Garbage? (copdfoundation.org) along with the tips, below, can help.
Let’s look at some tips for better communication—things to help with words and actions.
- Be assertive. It’s okay to voice your personal rights and feelings. Nobody can tell you that you don’t feel the way you do. Keep in mind, though, that being assertive does not mean it’s okay to abuse the rights of others.
- Avoid the words “always” and “never.” Saying something like “You always do that,” sounds like an attack.
- Know when the time is right for certain discussions. Avoid talking when you or the person listening does not have enough time to complete the talk fully. If the talk must be ended early, agree to pick it back up later, where you left off. If possible, avoid starting a tense conversation too close to bedtime.
- Be a good listener. Give feedback to the other person with actions such as nodding your head and having eye contact. This will help them know that they are being heard.
- Avoid using the word “should.” If you hear yourself using the word “should” you may be blaming someone— or you may be blaming yourself. Finding blame focuses your thoughts on the past. Sometimes that is needed, but then you can talk about moving forward and doing better.
- Don’t expect the other person to read your mind. Just because something seems obvious to you, that doesn’t mean it is obvious to someone else.
- Sometimes the best thing to do is to let it all out. It can be a big relief to let out your pent-up emotional frustrations. One safe place to do this is with a professional therapist. They are trained to listen to emotions expressed in many ways.
Do you use any of these methods of communication? Does another method work well for you? What about communicating with your caregiver?
Let’s talk! I look forward to hearing from you!