4. Communicating effectively with your relative, problem solving and setting limits

Tips for communication with your relative

Several different strategies can be helpful for improving communication, resolving conflict and developing a supportive family environment.

Choose an appropriate time

    Choose a time when your relative is not experiencing active symptoms.
    Make sure you are both calm and not emotionally vulnerable.
    Ensure neither of you is in a hurry.

Listen and validate

    Listen attentively to the other person.
    Do not interrupt.
    Do not judge.
    Paraphrase what you have heard and seek clarification when necessary.
    Verbalize the feelings, thoughts and actions of the other person that make sense to you.
    Communicate understanding of the other person’s perspective.

Be specific

    Try to talk about one subject at a time.
    Avoid sweeping negative statements.
    Avoid general statements such as “you never” or “you always.”
    State how you would like the other person to act.

Choose a neutral place

    Choose a place:
      that is not associated with fights
      where you will be safe.

Take responsibility

    Use “I” statements when talking about your feelings and needs.
    Acknowledge your part in the problem.
    Offer to contribute to solving the problem and compromise when possible.

Be positive and calm

    Express your requests in a positive way.
    Speak in a calm tone of voice.
    Avoid critical, sarcastic, demeaning or blaming remarks.
    Offer praise for small accomplishments.
    Reduce stimulation and avoid debating with your relative about false beliefs.