A Guide to Positive, Effective Communication in a Time of Social Distancing

Thursday, April 16 2020

Has it been a while since your last good conversation? Whether you’re spending way more time with your loved ones in quarantine — or way less — positive and effective communication can feel challenging.

Here are a few tips that will help you identify your support system and keep your communication lines open.

Who Should You Be Connecting With?

It’s important to connect with people both inside and outside of your household.

If you’re going through quarantine alone, make sure you reach out to someone — by text, video call, or phone call — at least once a day. It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask your friends or family to check-in with you throughout the week. Humans are relationship-oriented by nature, so there’s a good chance you’re not the only one who would benefit from regular virtual interaction.

It’s also important to connect with the people who may feel uncomfortably close right now. If you’re quarantined with your parents, partner, or roommate, make sure you’re communicating effectively with them instead of just “existing” near them.

Communication Techniques for Unusual Times

Tip 1: Use Gentle Tones Without Expectations

Everyone communicates their feelings in different ways during stressful times. Don’t take it personally if the people in your life seem “closed off.” No, you shouldn’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your friend, partner, or family member. Yet, you should also recognize that not everyone talks their way through stress.

Do feel free to express your own fears, hopes, and anxieties in the present moment. Additionally, make it clear that you understand if others aren’t ready to go there yet.

Tip 2: View Acts of Service as Communication

If you and your partner have found yourself juggling work and childcare in quarantine, acts of service may help smooth some of the turbulence. Having a cup of coffee ready for your partner when they wake up could mean more than a thousand words on a hectic morning. Don't be afraid to communicate specific tasks that you need help with. The person living with you may not instinctively know how to "lighten your load" in a way that's helpful. Using a positive, non-accusatory tone when vocalizing your needs is a great way to activate a team mentality.

Tip 3: Use Validating Words

A million ideas can run through our minds when we're anxious. It can be tempting to tell someone that their fears are unfounded, outlandish, or "crazy." This only increases feelings of anxiety and discomfort. It's important to acknowledge the feelings of those around you even if you see a different reality. We all know that telling an anxious person to "calm down" is the worst thing you can do.

What if you're the one feeling anxious? It's reasonable to ask a partner or friend to listen without commenting. There's a good chance that the person you're venting to will want to “fix” the problem. Let them know ahead of time that you're looking to "sound off" in a safe place.

Tip 4: Slip in Positive Words

Why not invent a positive mantra to use among your household or circle? Slipping positive words into a conversation benefits you and the listener. It's actually proven that choosing positive words changes our mindset and performance!

What to Do Next

Don't ignore your mental health just because the world feels a little different than it did a few months ago. Being in a mindset to keep lines of communication open is the first step to making it through this crisis. Video chats can serve as lifelines if you're alone during the quarantine. Don't be afraid to invite friends or family to chat on camera. And know that SonderMind is here if you need to connect with a therapist online while you get through this time.

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