Talking to Others

Helping Others Understand You and Your Family

The Smith family sat in the back of the chapel, where they always sat. They were trying to stay out of the way but also wishing that someone would recognize their needs. The Smiths have a child with a disability. They feel like many people in the ward do not understand their situation and they often struggle feeling welcome and included.   

If you find yourself in a similar situation, remember that no one knows your needs better than you do. Often others want to help, but they aren’t aware of your needs or they aren’t sure how to help. Although it can be difficult, making the effort to help others understand your situation and how they can help is very important.

Helpful Communication Skills:

  • Take time to understand and write down your specific needs. Be calm and respectful, not demanding, when communicating your needs.
  • Write down the strengths and gifts of your child to help leaders and teachers come to know your child.
  • Know who to talk to. For example, it is often more helpful to start with your child’s Primary teacher rather than the Primary Presidency or bishopric.
  • Do not use accusatory language. Try to focus on the positive when asking for a change.
  • Clarify what was said. You can do this by repeating what you understand from the conversation or by asking them to repeat what they understand from the conversation.
  • Be open to different views or ideas on how to accomplish a goal, and ask for their thoughts on the situation. Don’t think your way is the only way.
  • Keep the conversation focused on a specific need—if it gets off topic, bring it back to the topic.
  • Encourage your child to express his or her needs whenever possible and at appropriate times. You can always give support by being present during the conversation.
  • Be grateful—thank them for talking with you and being willing to listen.