Communication Challenges and MS: Develop Skills for Better Communication

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Communication is key when interacting in society and with the people involved in various facets of our lives.  When conversing with family (spouses, children, parents, etc.), doctors, employers, friends, etc., it’s important all parties involved make an effort to give and receive information which will result in a clear understanding of one another.  This can be a particularly challenging matter for those living with MS.  Cognition, speech, meds, emotions, etc. can compromise communication.  What we say, how we say it, and how our messages are received can make or break the outcome of a conversation.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to convey a message, yet the other person either doesn’t “hear” or misconstrues your words and intent – all efforts become lost in translation.  If problems with communication are ongoing and become chronic, the damage to our self-esteem and emotional well-being can compromise our lives and relationships as a whole.  There are ways to avoid such issues via various techniques and tools to help you develop better communication skills.  With practice, you can improve the chances of engaging in dialog with successful, healthy results.

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There are two key components vital for successful communication:  SPEAKING and LISTENING.  Listed below are a few pointers from MS and Your Feelings by Allison Shadday, LCSW

 

Tips to improve SPEAKING skills:   

  • Allow proper TIME available for conversation; don’t rush.
  • Check your emotions – avoid touchy topics if emotions are fragile
  • Stay on track – prepare ahead & write down notes of importance
  • Avoid accusatory words & statements – “always” or “never”
  • Use your words to explain & express FEELINGS – don’t assume
  • Eye contact – use it often
  • Remove distractions to increase attention & focus – TV, pets, etc.
  • Choose a comfortable setting to encourage relaxed conversation
  • Avoid insults – be respectful & open minded
  • Check in to confirm listener UNDERSTANDS; offer to clarify if not

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Tips to improve LISTENING skills:

  • Don’t interrupt – yes, this is often a tough one for the MS brain to control
  • Ask questions – clarify – make notes if needed
  • Allow for confusion or inability to respond – request additional time to think
  • Give full attention to the speaker – eye contact & body language
  • Avoid distractions – don’t multitask during conversations
  • Withhold accusations, criticism, assumptions – avoid giving advice

 

Author: Mary

ABOUT MARY ~ Mary is a "late-blooming" writer from Texas who enjoys exploring a variety of different styles & genres, however her deep passion for creative writing (poetry, essay, narrative interview & non-fiction) remains unwavering & most purposeful. Mary's personal & professional background is filled with an eclectic combination of business & art (e.g., music, performing arts, 15 years sales/marketing & special events planning in the private club industry). Mary is a 1990 graduate from The University of North Texas with a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management. In 2001, life as she knew it would be dramatically & forever altered by the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at age 35. Several years passed, searching for answers to unknown questions. This loss of reality, normalcy, & PURPOSE needed to be reinvented - renewed - rewritten. This disease is not a "one size firs all." MS affects everyone differently & can morph unpredictably, silently, relentlessly... day to day. It's not easy to figure out how to deal with disease & this vile invasion of an uninvited, unwanted "internal room-mate." Eventually, Mary also sought the help of a professional therapist which helped her learn important coping skills needed to tame/calm mood disorders & to encourage healthy ways in which to purge the noisy chaos inside the brain. And so the writing began... as did a newfound passion & purpose. This journey of reinvention became plausible via Mary's background & her desire to discover new creative outlets. As a student for life, Mary continues to explore & study the health benefits from turning off our "auto pilot switch" & instead focus on learning - consume new information & participate in new activities (Neuroplasticity). The gift of "resilience" is a glorious, powerful tool which stems from the endurance of life & it's many challenges. Resilience forces us to rise up & learn face issues (new & old) head on. Focus on the important things in life. Laugh & live selflessly with compassion, purose & passion. Connect with Mary at: 🔸Twitter: @pettigrew66, @MSpals 🔸Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MaryPettigrew48 🔸LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/maryppettigrew 🔸Instagram: 🔸http://www.mspals.org Acknowledgments and Press ~ * Creator & Co-founder of MSpals: A Global Organization (2014 - present) * Administrator & contributing author of content, posts, & interviews on the MSpals website: http://www.mspals.org ~ The Summer of Sport: Forward Poetry 2012 ~ Poetry Rivals Collection 2013 ~ Something On Our Minds Vol.III ~ Something On Our Minds Vol IV. Interviews: National Multiple Sclerosis Society's "Momentum Magazine" ~ 2013 = Art Therapy & MS ~ 2015 = Connecting Via Social Media Other works also featured on a variety of blogs, websites, videos, as well as other multimedia platforms including: www.pajamadaze.com www.disabled-world.com www.HealthCentral.com www.MyCounterpane.com www.MS&MeRadio/TBI Network iConquerMS/The Accelerated Cure Project WEGO Health

4 thoughts on “Communication Challenges and MS: Develop Skills for Better Communication”

  1. This post was extremely helpful. I only have a few friends that have been diagnosed with MS. I want to try to understand or learn as much as I can to help that relationship as a friend. I have also been learning more about PTSD, since my partner has it. I feel the more I know about these things, a better person I can be for them.

    Like

  2. I have extreme difficulty finding the right words to express myself. This is why I love writing. I can come up with the words that are hard for me to express “on the spot.” This is a very insightful article, thank you for covering this very important topic in our community.

    Liked by 1 person

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