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Communication breakdown: it ain’t just a river in Kansas anymore

By CPN Behavioral Health Department

We’re virtually here to help!

Bozho
(Hello),

We’re sure some people read the headline and thought nothing of it. Some maybe looked at it and wondered if it was a mistake, and maybe some people read it and got the joke. (It’s three different sayings put together to make one confusing title.)

The point is, we aren’t always clear with one another in our communication. Right now seems particularly difficult to many people with so many messages about so many things going on in our society that sometimes agree, sometimes disagree, and sometimes are just downright confusing! Here are a few very simple tips for making sure that when we try to communicate, we understand each other better.

1. Mean what you say, and say what you mean.

This one does what it says; just take it at face value. When you speak and you want your message to come across, state things that stick to the message, and be serious about the message. This goes for statements, questions for others and even questions for yourself. Instead of saying something like, “Yes, I do want a hamburger, but put the pickle on the side!” try something like, “I will try to do things differently next time.”

2. If someone is confused, give a little rationale (but not too much. We don’t want things to become more confusing).

Be sure you and your intentions are clear; understanding “why” can help others understand “what.” We don’t want to keep our hopes or wishes completely secret when it comes to communication. Instead of saying something like, “Pickles tend to make the bread soggy, and I do not care for that,” try something like, “Next time I will ask if you want everything on the burger.”

3. Ask questions.

If you do not understand someone or something, ask a question or two to clarify. Sometimes we misunderstand, and we guess. If we ask a question to clarify, it’s OK. This not only helps us understand more in the moment but it also gives us practice for how we can listen to others in the future. Instead of saying something like, “Will you repeat that?” try something like, “Does that make sense?”

4. Don’t stop being yourself.

Some of us like to joke around, and because of that, we aren’t always direct. Better communication doesn’t mean you have to stop; it is about recognizing when we need to be serious or clear. With everything going on in the world socially, medically, politically and every other “ly” you can think of, we get a lot of practice communicating or not communicating. It’s okay to practice being clear, concise, direct, and with sympathy and empathy.

So, to be clear (and in case anyone was wondering):

  • Communication breakdown is a phrase indicating something went wrong in the message from one person to the next, or it is a song by the legendary band Led Zeppelin.
  • Denial: It ain’t just a river in Egypt.
  • “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

Of course, you can always check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov with questions and helpful information during this time. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or text CONNECT to 741741, or online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. CPN Behavioral Health is also available at 405-214-5101.

Migwetch (Thank you)!