As caregivers, we need ways to communicate honestly and effectively.

It seems a bit unfair to add one more required skill set on top of everything else we have to master, but if we’re attempting to take care of ourselves while taking care of another, we’ll likely find ourselves having many conversations that aren’t easy or simple. Whether these involve the person to whom we’re offering support and or people who are attempting to offer us support, it often helps if we can preface what we’re saying in a way that helps the person we’re talking to be better prepared to truly listen. Prefaces help both the speaker and listener drop into a place where they have the best likelihood of having a successful conversation.

Here are a few examples of some prefacing statements:

“There’s something I’ve really wanted to talk with you about. Would this morning be a good time? . . . ” “I wish I didn’t have to ask you this, but I really need your help . . . ” “Even though I’m doing okay overall, there are days when it feels like too much and I’m trying to figure out how I might reach out to others . . . ” “I know you’re in pain, but we really need to find a different way to do this . . . ” Ideally, prefacing statements are honest and clear, and demonstrate a respect for both ourselves and the person we’re speaking to.  They also allow us to be at our best in moments when we’re at risk for not being at our best!

I’d invite you to think about how such prefacing statements might be helpful in sharing your needs and wants and wishes.

Also, think about the successful moments you’ve had when engaging in difficult conversations, and please share any tips. It’s always inspiring to learn from one another.

Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D. is the author of “Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit,” newly released from Hay House and available for purchase at bookstores, including Amazon.

Karen Horneffer-Ginter has been practicing psychology and teaching yoga and contemplative practices for over 16 years. She has also taught graduate students and health care professionals, along with directing a university-based holistic health care program, and co-founding the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The aim of Karen's work is to reconnect people with the wisdom of their inner-life by reclaiming what gets lost amidst the busyness of day-to-day life: qualities such as stillness, self-care, creativity, joy, humor, gratitude, and compassion. Her intention is to support people in finding a sense of balance and sacredness in their lives.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you Karen for your deep, insightful, and inspirational advice. I am a person with a fairly severe mental health challenge, and I am lucky to be one who has a wonderful wife and two daughters who are always been there, but there has been incredible challenges along the way, as my unpredictable behaviour can be extremely difficult to deal with at times. But they are always there, do their best, sometimes walk away to get a break and a breath, always let me know they are doing it, and we always come back and talk about what happened and what we can do differently in the future. They are a blessing. Your work sounds wonderful. Wish we had something like your services and knowledge in Ontario. It is probably there, but haven’t been able to find it. Not to say it isn’t there at times, I have worked with some wonderful professional support over this journey, who talk just like you and have done some wonderful work with me and teaching me how to work best with my family. Thanks for the article. Bruce


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