Communication is key to building any relationship. Being able to have open and honest conversations can be challenging for any person and is a skill that takes practice.
When a loved one lives with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, this can be even more difficult due to the symptoms of these conditions.
Being respectful, considerate, and speaking kindly and clearly can help to build trust and improve communication.
Empower a Loved One to Speak Up
Encourage your loved one to express his or her needs, have a voice in treatment and recovery decisions, and be open and honest.
Pay close attention to what your loved one is saying. You can repeat what you have heard to make sure that you have understood and show that you are truly listening.
When you are not certain what your loved one is trying to say or what he or she needs, ask follow-up questions so you can better understand.
Try to Understand Your Loved One's Experience
If your loved one has delusions or hallucinations, remember that they are real to him or her. Saying the beliefs are wrong or imaginary is not helpful. You can acknowledge that the beliefs are real, without supporting the actual delusions.
Communicate Clear Expectations
Everyone has challenges and limitations, so being realistic and expressing what you expect from each other may help reduce conflict.
Put Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes
Sometimes you may think that you are expressing concern, yet your loved one experiences it as "nagging." Before you speak, think about how what you say and how you say it might impact your loved one. Check in to find out what he or she hears versus what you have said. You may be surprised that words and tone matter.
Reduce Stress During Conversations
Stress can be a trigger for your loved one, so stay supportive and positive. Try to speak to one person at a time and keep your voice calm and even. Have a sense of humor, when possible.