As an in-home caregiver, you’re the direct communicator with your employer or client. There’s not a department or 3rd party there to share information, field complaints, or work through issues for you. It falls on you. There are a lot of communication tools that can help, and one of the most helpful ones is the ability to genuinely acknowledge the feelings, perspectives and experiences of the other person.
Get In the Right Mindspace
Acknowledgment is all about letting the other person know you hear, see and value them. It doesn’t mean that you’d feel the same way in the same situation, that you agree with their perspective, or that you condone their words or actions. It simply means you acknowledge that what’s going on with them is real for them and important to them. During acknowledgment, you’re not judging the person, their feelings, their way of seeing things, their actions or reactions, their choices, nothing. You’re also not trying to solve whatever problem is at the center of the conversation. You’re simply investing time and energy into acknowledging them.
Summarize and Reflect
The easiest way to acknowledge someone is to simply reflect back to them what they’ve said to you. You don’t need to repeat what they’ve said word for word; you can summarize the important things you’ve heard and reflect it back to them. When summarizing, you can use sentence starters like “It sounds like…” and “It looks like…” to frame the acknowledgment. For example, imagine you have a parent whose been late several times over the past month. They can tell this isn’t workable for you and share they recently got a new boss who gives them last-minute work and expects them to finish it before they leave. You can tell by their tone, body language, and other details of the story this new situation is overwhelming for them. Rather than dive right into how this is a problem for you, you can acknowledge their experience by saying, “Sounds like your new boss may not understand the other obligations you have after work. I can see you’re working hard to do a great job for your company and get here on time, but outside forces are making that impossible on some days. I imagine that’s frustrating and stressful.” Once people feel heard and seen, they’re in a much better place to tackle problem-solving.
In any conversation where you need to talk to someone about a problem or misunderstanding, acknowledgment is the best place to start. It paves the way for kinder, more successful communication.