Communicating with someone who is struggling requires that you stay positive. Try using these seven elements in future conversations, especially when making requests.


Be Positive

Shift the focus from negative to positive by describing what you want instead of what you don't want. You can reframe the focus of the conversation from critical to supportive. 

"Please help me clean this mess" instead of "Stop making such a mess."


Be Brief

Decide what to ask and then practice it in advance so that you can be as concise as possible during the conversation. When you are unprepared or feel angry, you tend to say more than needed. 

"You need to attend your meetings" instead of "You need to attend your meetings because..."


Be Specific

When speaking, refer to specific behaviors instead of thoughts or feelings. Requests that are too vague are easy to ignore or misunderstand, which will affect the success of the communication. 

"I would appreciate a call in the afternoon if you plan to be home late."


Label Your Feelings

Describing your emotional reaction to behavior helps to elicit empathy from your loved one. Be careful to stay calm (tone down your emotion if needed) and non-accusatory.

"I am feeling worried about you."


Offer an Understanding Statement

When the person you are speaking to feels as if you are genuinely listening and understand, they will be less defensive. Approach every conversation with the goal of understanding and empathizing.

"I understand, that must be frustrating for you."


Accept Partial Responsibility

By sharing responsibility for a problem, you automatically reduce defensiveness and allow for collaboration to solve the problem. Don't take the blame or admit fault but reinforce the idea that you can work together to fix it.

"I'm sorry that I didn't notice what was happening. How can we fix this?"


Offer to Help

Phrase your offers to help as a question for the best results. This supportive type of communication is non-judgmental and generates ideas.

"How can I help?"

Positive communication can be the key to helping your loved one heal.