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Communication: top tips for parent carers

Our network meetings last month were all about communication.  If you missed them, here are some top tips from our Partnership & Participation Co-ordinator Eve Redgrave, who ran mini-workshops for parents.

Good communication is good for everyone.  And if you're a parent of a child with additional needs, you are likely to be attending extra meetings with professionals   -  which can be extremely stressful.

1. Be prepared

Make a checklist of what you want/need for your family

2. Go with someone

If possible, take a friend with you for support.  While you talk, they can listen and write down a summary of what was discussed and any action points.

3. Stay calm

Try not to tense and stress while you're having a conversation. If you feel overwhelmed, take a minute and regroup.

Think about the body signals you're sending.  If we don't like what's being said, we can cross arms, avoid eye contact and tap fingers or feet but these signals can make the other person defensive.

4. Listen and engage

Really concentrate on the person talking.  Hear them out instead of thinking about what you're going to say next.

Even if you disagree with their view, try to connect and understand rather than criticise.  

Ask questions so that you understand what's being said and what's doing to happen next.  If something seems hard to understand or complicated, ask for it to be explained again or simplified. Simple, plain English is best, so ask for any jargon or terms to be explained.

5. Speak clearly and make a point at a time

Try to keep your request or response brief and do it a point at a time. This makes it clearer for the other person to understand what you want and to stay interested in what you are saying.

5. Miles apart or is there middle ground?

Are you ready to compromise? Or will you agree to disagree?  Finding a middle ground can be a good outcome. But accept that there are times when you may end up poles apart.