Posted in Caregiving

Stop Using a Soup Can and String

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

Years ago the phone company had a campaign that said, “Reach out and touch someone.”  They were promoting using the telephone to speak with loved ones; keeping the lines of communication open.  Now Progresso Soup has commercials where people use a soup can and string as their telephone to signify the homemade taste of their soup reaching back to days gone by.  The image of the soup can and string is comedic these days, but the issue about good communication remains important, especially in between you, the caregiver/wellness partner, and the patient.

Western industrialized nations have been studied to understand how people in these cultures communicate.  What the studies show is that there is little time between one person speaking and the next jumping in to the conversation.  Our rate of speaking over others is astounding, and we’ve come to believe, as a culture, that when a person pauses they are done speaking.

On the opposite end of the continnum, other cultures seem to expand their conversations with a breath and space.  They are more inclined to allow for the complete thought to emerge before jumping in to state their own point of view.  It all seems more civilized, don’t you think?

Over the past few years as I’ve attended classes I’ve noticed something very interesting about communication patterns.  Overwhelmingly, during our discussions when someone wants to share they often looked to the person who was just speaking to ask if they were done…or had they completed their thought.  The opportunity to allow for full expression is crucial in any conversation.

How’s the communication pattern between you and the person you’re caring for?  Do you feel heard?  Are you given the opportunity to fully express yourself?  Do you feel that your input is welcomed or even sought after?  These are important components to retaining the capacity to care for another human being.

What can you do to increase the level of communication between yourself and the patient?  How can you stand your ground a bit clearer so that your entire thought or idea is shared with the patient?  How can you negotiate for clearer communication, especially about crucial issues like end-of-life care or treatment options?

Communication isn’t merely words; it’s the premise of the relationship.  It provides the foundation for the partnership as you moved toward health and healing.  It’s too important to be left to chance or a soup can and string.  What have you done to promote good communication?  Please share your tips because it’s so important.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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