Keep it CRISP
Assertive communication is the best type of communication. Whether you are speaking with your doctor, your boss at work or your grandchildren, assertive communication will allow you to express yourself freely and openly.
Your message will be received in a more positive way because you will be respecting yourself and the other person. C.R.I.S.P communication is assertive communication. Here’s how to keep it crisp:
- Change your mind. Forget the idea that the communicating about your COPD will do more harm than good. People care about you and your thoughts, feeling and opinions. They want to hear what you say because your information leads to better choices and a more complete understanding of the situation.
- Respect yourself and them. Do not sell the children in your life short. Just because they act foolishly or speak immaturely occasionally does not mean that they are incapable of understanding the situation. At the same time, respect yourself by finding balance with the principles and beliefs you have.
- I. The most assertive communication involves “I” messages. Saying, “I have a disease called COPD and I would like to talk to you about it,” is a better strategy than saying, “You need to go look up COPD online.” Be sure to include information about how you are feeling and how you expect them to feel. “I” messages allow the person you are speaking with to understand your feelings, which begins to serve as a guide for them.
- Specific and direct. If you want to tell someone something or pass along a piece of information, be specific and direct. Making good eye contact and avoiding distractions will assist with this task. Have the conversation in a safe, comfortable spot. Work to be clear and concrete with your expectations. People using passive communication tend to say too little or too much. In either case, the point of your communication is likely to not be well-received. Take communication slow and simple.
- Practice and Prepare. What is your goal for this conversation? What do you want to say to them? How do you want them to respond? What do you do if they respond in an unexpected way? You can never cover every contingency or situation that may arise, but with planning and preparation, you can begin to consider likely possibilities. One the best methods of preparation is to be well-informed about COPD itself. At times, COPD can be overwhelming and confusing for you. Imagine how your children or grandchildren feel. If you become well versed on the topic, you will be better able to explain it simply and effectively.
Where to Begin
Starting the process is the most challenging aspect. You may be finding yourself waiting for the “right time” to do it or hoping that someone does it for you. Forget about what is easy and begin thinking about what is best.
What’s best is that your child or grandchild hears the information directly from you. Otherwise, there is a chance that your COPD becomes a topic that is never discussed and becomes the elephant in the room. Rather than look for the right time, tell yourself that there is no wrong time.
Starting the conversation with the children in your life gives you the power and control in this situation. If you wait until someone asks you about it, chances are better that you will be caught off-guard and will react in less desirable ways.
A general script looks like this: “I wanted to talk to you because grandpa is sick. I have a disease called COPD. It means that it is harder for me to breath. It makes me cough a lot, get dizzy and feel tired. As time goes by, it will be harder for me to breathe. One day, hopefully not for a long time, I won’t be able to breathe anymore, and I will die. I wanted to tell you because you are important to me and you deserve to know.”
This approach may trigger some discomfort for you as well as the child. Do not fear discomfort, though. COPD is an uncomfortable diagnosis. The discomfort is actually helpful as it allows for change and progress to occur.