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Effective family communication

Effective communication is essential for maintaining a normal family life and the well-being of family members. When your family members are able to communicate clearly their needs, concerns and feelings to one another, it can help your family better cope with your daily stresses and solve your problems. Effective communication is particularly important for your family when a member is having an eating disorder. Communication in your family can be improved by learning some simple skills.


Communicate in a calm and pleasant voice tone

A family member with an eating disorder will be more receptive to a calm and pleasant voice tone which can maximize the suffering family member's response in a warm positive way. Harsh and critical voice tones can prevent him/ her from hearing what is said and asked to do. A confrontational and critical approach will only serve to reinforce the sense of weakness, inferiority and powerlessness in the sufferer who will cling more tightly to eating disorder behaviours.

Keep communication specific and brief

Verbal messages can be easily understood when it is clear, short, specific and focused. It can enable a person to take in the message without much problem even if he / she has difficulty concentrating.

Use "I" statements

"I" statements can help you focus on your own concerns and thoughts. "You" statement, however, can be perceived as judgmental and leading to the breakdown of communication.

Let others know you are listening

Good listening can facilitate the other person to speak his or her mind clearly. To enable the other person to know you are listening, you can give frequent acknowledgements like "okay", check your understanding of what has been heard, clarify questions, and reflect or paraphrase the spoken content. You should avoid jumping in with your own solutions while listening.

Let others know when they please you

It is important for you to recognize and acknowledge the pleasant things and positive actions done by any member in your family. The positive actions will be reinforced when they are noticed and appreciated.

Let others know your feeling if their behaviour affects you

You should communicate explicitly your feelings to members of your family in a calm and non-critical manner no matter how happy, sad or angry their behaviours are making you .

Communicate eating disorder as a separate entity from the person

Try to seperate the eating disorder from the person. This will allow you to discuss the disorder rather than the person and help you to remove your personal feelings about the person.

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