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 patient advocate for MS, chronic illness & disabilities. She is a freelance 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 & purposeful. Mary's personal & professional background is an eclectic compilation consisting of the fine arts, civil rights advocacy, fundraising with 15 years in sales/marketing & event 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, Mary was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Within a few years, health issues forced her to resign from the career she loved. As her marriage began to crumble, Mary was keenly aware of the emotional & mental crisis firmly taking hold. Eventually, she sought the help of a professional therapist which helped her learn the important coping skills needed to tame/calm mood disorders & to encourage healthy ways in which to purge the noisy chaos inside the brain. This loss of reality, normalcy, & PURPOSE needed to be reinvented, renewed & rewritten...NOW! The divorce & all related proceedings lasted an unfathomable six years, yet it was the therapy, communities & her writing which kept her most grounded. Each poem a cathartic purge, each word a therapeutic tool meant for healing & to inspire resilience. Blindsided by this newfound purpose & passion, Mary continues writing & exploring a plethora of multimedia outlets to this day. Her writing, networking & advocacy projects target the MS, chronic illness & disability communities. Her interactive presence can be seen throughout social media. Although MS is the primary community in which she advocates, Mary enjoys playing an active role in other patient communities (bloggers, writers, music, live chats, special events, & many more. One of the key messages Mary continues to emphasize is how chronic illness can affect everyone differently. MS is a prime example in that we are not a "one size fits all." This disease called MS is a conundrum in every which way. To this day, research continues, yet we still don't know the root cause for MS, yet current findings now show "risk factors" for the disease. MS can morph as it sees fit to do so. Unpredictably, silently, sometimes relentlessly this MS becomes an uninvited, unwanted "internal room-mate." Mary's overall background & her desire to discover herself & new creative outlets was a plus. A renewed student for life, Mary continues to explore the unknown - Once you switch off your "auto pilot" it's amazing what you can see & do. Place focus on learning, consume new information & participate in activities uncharted or foreign (The science of Neuroplasticity). All of this is most DEFINITELY a work in progress, but remember to focus most on the important things in life. Laugh out loud & live selflessly with compassion, purpose & unbridled passion. Connect with Mary at: 🔸Twitter: @pettigrew66, @MSpals 🔸Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Mary.patriciapettigrew 🔸LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/maryppettigrew 🔸Instagram: 🔸https://www.mspals.wordpress.com Acknowledgments and Press ~ UPDATES TO COME * Creator & Co-founder of MSpals: A Global Organization (2014 - present) * Administrator & contributing author of content, posts, & interviews: MSpals blog: https:/:www.mspals.wordpress.com ~ 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 - Patient Leader HealtheVoices - Patient Leader MS Focus - Monthly contributor

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

  1. 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

  2. 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

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