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|"Pleasant words are
like a honeycomb, sweet to the palate and a cure for the body"
Visiting is an investment of time and includes attention, patience, perceptive listening, sincere concern, openness, and communication skills.
As in all verbal communication, tone of voice is very important and can change the meaning behind the question.
Below are techniques to help facilitate communication when making a visit or talking with the person on the phone:
- Use questions that elicit an in-depth response, one that cannot be answered with "yes" or "no."
- Use "How" and "What" instead of "Do," "Did," and "Were."
- Are you feeling upset right now? (Closed)
- How do you feel right now? (Open)
- Do you like to read? (Closed)
- What are some activities that you enjoy doing? (Open)
- Open ended questions are good conversation starters:
- What was it like growing up in the 1930s (or other date)?
- How is your family doing?
- What do you think about____?
Help the person expand
- "Tell me more..."
- "Tell me about it..."
- "You seem upset..."
Ask questions to better understand
- "Im not sure I really know what you mean when you say..."
- "Lets go over that one more time."
Redirect the conversation
- "Thank you for your concern, but Id really like to hear about..."
- "You mentioned before that..."
- "Lets go back to..."
Review past and present efforts at problem solving
- "Have you talked with anyone about this?"
- "What do you usually do when...?"
- "What have you done about this so far?"
- "What choices do you feel you might have?"
Seven ways of asking "How are you?" (Courtesy of Rabbi Simkha Y.
Simply asking "How are you?" may not convey your authentic personal interest and invite an honest, expressive response. Some people who are suffering have criticized this common question because it doesnt seem to acknowledge the very different course their life has takenand can encourage automatic expected answers such as "Im OK" or "Fine, thanks," which may not be a sincere reply or convey the whole story. Below are some suggested alternatives.
- How are you doing with all of this?
- How are your spirits?
- How are you hanging in?
- What do you need the most, right now?
- Whats helping you get through this?
- Whats been on your mind as you try to cope with all of this?
- What are some of the obstacles to your managing/coping?
- Asking more than one question at a time makes it difficult for the person to answer one or both of them.
- "How are you feeling? Pretty bad, huh?"
- "How are things going at home and with your family?"
- In holding a conversation, ask one question and then wait for the answer.
Avoid "Why" questions
- At times, "why" questions are used as a way to convey judgment and can be misunderstood.
- Asking "Why?" makes a person feel as though you are attacking his or her ideas.
- Questions can be easily rephrased to avoid any misunderstandings, for example:
- "Why are you late?" vs. "What caused your delay?"
- "Why did you quit your job?" vs. "How is it that you decided to quit your job?"
Avoid these responses
- "Oh, dont worry. Everything will turn out all right."
- "Oh, yes, I know exactly how you feel. As a matter of fact, let me tell you about what happened to me once..."
- "What a mistake. You must really regret what you did."
- "Well, if I were you..."
- Show that you have heard what the person said by summarizing briefly the meaning of what was said and checking by asking if you understood his or her feelings correctly.
- When you listen, just listen. Do not plan your reply while waiting for your turn to talk. Wait until the person talking finishes. This way you can gather all the information before responding.
- Make a restatement or paraphrase. Reflect the feeling or emotion behind what you think was said.
- Statement: "No one really cares about me."
Visitor: "You feel that no one especially is looking out for you?"
- Statement: "I just couldnt tell her because we were never alone. All those other people are always around."
Visitor: "Youd like to get her alone long enough to tell her."
- Do not give advice. Help others to see their strengths and recognize their resources and alternatives. Let them come to their own conclusions.
Keep an open mind.
Be aware of your own values, beliefs, and prejudices. You are participating in another persons world, not judging it.
|"Be of humble spirit before every person"
Pirke Avot 4:12