Whether it is talking, conversing, dialoguing or schmoozing, expressing yourself clearly so you are understood can be a real challenge. As George Bernard Shaw once said “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
But effective communication is essential for family, caregivers, and spouses to avoid conflicts and help improve and maintain healthy relationships as we age. The following are some helpful tips – condensed for this column – from Working Caregiver. You can find more details at their website workingcaregiver.com.
1. Breathe. Start with a deep breath to relax and give yourself time to pull your thoughts together.
2. Ask questions. Find out what is really going on. Don’t take anything for granted – you know what happens when you assume.
3. Really listen. Hear and understand their experiences and opinions, and listen for any fears driving their responses that they may not even realize. And don’t argue.
4. Slow down. Take your time and think before you respond. Silence can be golden.
5. Speak directly to the person. Set aside time to have one-on-one conversations. And avoid multi-tasking.
6. Speak distinctly and clearly. Many of us don’t like to admit, we have trouble understanding conversations.
7. Laugh. When appropriate, humor can help ease tense situations.
But sometimes you still can’t get it right as illustrated by this absolutely, positively true story forwarded to me by John Mabrey.
A man was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching his wife, who was looking at herself in the mirror. Since her birthday was not far off he asked what she’d like to have for her birthday. ‘I’d like to be six again’, she replied, still looking in the mirror.
On the morning of her birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms, and then took her to Six Flags theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park; the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, the Screaming Roller Coaster, everything there was.
Five hours later they staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. He then took her to a McDonald’s where he ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake. Then it was off to a movie, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M’s. What a fabulous adventure!
Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted.
He leaned over his wife with a big smile and lovingly asked, ‘Well dear, what was it like being six again?’ Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed. ‘I meant my dress size, you stupid idiot!!!!’
The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he’s gonna get it wrong.
It has been mentioned several times in this newspaper – and for me, another reminder never hurts – on Saturday, February 19th at 10:00 AM Home-at-Last will be offering rabies shots for only $10.00 and Tags and Microships for $20. That’s quite a bargain. And you may want to ask if they also tag young children and wondering parents.
The musical duo, The Schwartz Brothers, will be performing next Tuesday – Wait a minute! Hold the presses! I got that wrong. They won’t be performing – even though they do play a few musical instruments right fine – but will be at the Center to present the Tuesday Lecture on the 22nd at 11:00. The title of the presentation is “Boning up on the Latest in Orthopedics”. Pretty clever title, eh? So come down and welcome Bruce and John back to The Dalles and also learn a thing or two. And who knows, they may share a few tunes or Alaska fishing stories after the presentation.
The Jazz Generations are back again this month on February 22nd. And tonight the Sugar Daddies will be playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. The stomping and shouting starts at 7:00 and donations are always appreciated.
The stage name for Richard Penniman, who recorded seven original #1 hits before quitting to enter the ministry, is Little Richard. And the winner of a Saturday Breakfast in March is the lovely Sandy Haechral. This week’s “Remember When” question goes back to vintage TV. The hit western series “Have Gun – Will Travel” on CBS from 1957 through 1963 followed the adventures of a gentleman gunfighter played by Richard Boone. What was the name of this fancy dressed, opera loving, gun toting, peace-making, gourmet? E-mail your answer to email@example.com, call 541-296-4788 or write it on the back of a calling card engraved with a picture of a chess knight.
Well that’s another week traveling the seven seas of life. Until we meet again, listen before you speak, look before you leap and think before you act.
“If people were meant to pop out of bed, we’d all sleep in toasters”.