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Communication…the Essentials

By William R. Leahy, M.D.

(Page 3 of 5)

Barriers to Communication
Communication can be blocked or disrupted in many ways. The following are some barriers to communication and ways to avoid them.

a. Your loved one does not hear or understand what you say…speak clearly and check that any hearing aid is working.

b. You do not hear or understand what she is telling you. Ask her to repeat what she has said.

c. The meaning of words or terms is not clear. Use simple words and avoid medical terminology.

d. Using clichés makes your message meaningless.

e. Asking “why” makes your loved one defensive. The word “why” often does not allow you to open up a conversation that is helpful in resolving the question.

f. Yes/no answers end a conversation. Unless you are seeking direct information, ask open-ended questions that need more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

Accurate and Complete Communication
In addition to avoiding barriers to communication, these positive techniques will help you send and receive clear, complete messages.

a. Be a good listener. Allow the other person to express her ideas completely.

b. Provide feedback as you listen. Active listening involves focusing on message and providing feedback. Offering general but leading responses such as “on?” or “go on” or “hmmm” provide feedback and encourage the sender to expand the message.

c. Bring up topics of concern. If you know a topic may be of concern, raise it in a general, non-threatening way.

d. Let some pauses happen. Use silence to allow the other person to gather her thoughts or decide to convey another message.

e. Ask for more. When your loved one reports feelings, events, or symptoms, restate what you have heard to clarify. Ask if there is more he or she can tell you.


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