The Top Five Tips for Handling Difficult Conversations When You’re A Caregiver
Caregiving Tips To Help Make Your Days Easier To Manage
When you’re a caregiver, it can feel like any conversation you have with the person you’re taking care of is a difficult conversation. Between trying to find the “perfect time” (e.g. not in between their favorite television show) to have the conversation, to having to work up the courage to talk about a variety of topics that can range from bad behavior to health issues; difficult conversations can feel like “par for the course” as a caregiver. But, can I tell you that no matter how many challenging conversations you have, you never feel like an expert. You never feel like, “this is an easy one” or “I can do this one with my eyes closed”. The only that I’ve learned that helps is experience. So, here are my “top five tips” to handling difficult conversations.
- Stop and pray before you speak- It’s so natural to want to blurt it out. Have you ever heard of “verbal diarrhea”? Once it comes out, you can’t take it back. Prayer changes things and perspectives. That moment of solitude and surrender will give you the clarity to communicate clearly, and that’s what you need. You want to make sure they hear and understand.
- Don’t get mad when they interrupt you- It’s natural for people to interject when they hear something that they don’t like. You should be used to this as a caregiver or parent ;-). Let them get out what they have to say, and when they’re done, go back to where you left off. Don’t miss a beat. That was also possibly a diversion tactic on their part. If you get mad at them, you totally focus on the anger, and the message becomes lost or forgotten.
- Pace yourself and ask questions to ensure they understand - Sometimes we get so nervous that we start speaking like we’re in a race. SLOW DOWN!! They can only follow and understand so much. Remember you want this to be a conversation. So, speak and be quiet. That gives them a chance to speak. If there is no answer, then ask them the following questions: A. Do you want me to repeat what I just said? B. If they say “yes”, then ask them to repeat what you just said to ensure understanding. If they say “no”, then ask them what part they didn’t understand.
Your main goal is to ensure understanding. This also helps create the conversation. You’re communicating and they’re communicating. It’s a win/win for everyone ;-)
- Don’t be afraid of emotion (tears, anger, etc.)- Emotion is always going to be a part of difficult conversations, and it can come from you or them. Just don’t be afraid of it, because our vulnerabilities are beautiful. Just don’t let them prevent you from getting out the message. Because, no matter what. You still have to have the conversation.
- Understand if they don’t receive what you told them at the moment- Not all conversations are going to end perfectly. Especially, when they deal with sensitive issues. Don’t be afraid to walk away with no resolution. You can’t force someone to see your point of view. You have to be willing to give them the time and space to come to the best conclusion for them.
I know these sound like basic tips. But, a great conversation is built on the basics. It’s all about being heard and understood. So, strive to do this in all of your conversations.
As caregivers, it’s easy to get frustrated when we have these conversations. Many times we believe the person we’re taking care of doesn’t understand, so we stop using these techniques when talking to them. But, no matter what the circumstances may be, we still have to try.
I hope these tips will help you. Please share any tips you have in the comments. I’m still learning the best ways to deal with difficult conversations too. So, any tips you can share our greatly appreciated. Until we meet again!!