Communication in Stressful Situations
By: Lyle Jameson - M.Ed in Adaptive Special Education
Lyle shares ideas, tips, and advice on building a successful program and advice for husbands of family child care operators. Lyle teaches high incidence adaptive special education and partners with his wife Jessica at their own respected home child care business.
Communicate Like a Business…
When you make a credit card payment late you can be reasonably sure you are going to incur a late fee, you realize you were the responsible party for remitting payment and per your contract are responsible for a set fee for late payments. You like most people don’t like paying the late fee but typically you’re not angry with the credit card company. Why? Because who are you going to be mad at, it’s a business. Businesses operate automatically and with policy. Your daycare business should be the same. Every communication, interaction with your clients should reflect the professional business tone you create. When providers loosen up or get friendly with long-term clients, use text messages and talk after hours you are setting yourself up for hiccups going forward. If clients hear from you about routine non-emergency situations then they expect to be able to contact you any time of the day, weekends and holidays included. When you become close to these clients it makes it hard to ask for your late fee, and feelings can get hurt. Keeping your operation consistently professional eliminates personal feelings and keeps your business running smoothly.
Set yourself up to communicate and operate like a professional business from day 1 when potential clients contact you for service. When you get text messages, social media messages or phone calls try to route those communications to e-mails. An e-mail template will save you a lot of time and allow you to disseminate all of the information you wish to share with that potential client. The first contact usually starts with 2 questions. Do you have any openings? And… What are your rates? Do more than just answer these two questions, give them specific information about your service that sets the tone for your entire business relationship with this family. If you do not have any openings go a step further by offering tips for finding a good provider, or refer them to someone in your circle who does have openings. The professional tone of your communication will leave a lasting impression on them, and when you do find yourself with an opening use the saved e-mail address and send a follow-up. Check back and see if they’ve found care for their child and let them know if not you do have an opening available. Also, the provider you referred the family to will remember who sending them clients and return the favor.
The ambiance of the environment you create affects the mind of the child in both negative and positive ways. The color scheme, the type of furniture and toys attracts or repel the child. The environment should be relaxed and playful. Tone and mannerism are critical in child care settings. This is because children learn from watching others. When you react loudly or forcefully in situations they learn to do that too. Have a plan to handle situations that could easily get out of hand and create additional stress.
Stress management is of paramount importance here as stress can greatly affect a provider's health. It can also affect how providers respond to children in terms of praise, nurturing, and teaching. Stress negatively influences a provider’s communication by reducing concentration and clear reasoning. This can cause many problems ranging from tension between the caregiver and the child, not being able to discharge your duties efficiently, or worse, you might lose the child’s trust and closeness.
• Stress can be caused by many things most especially:
• Being packed with too much work in too little time,
• Noisy environment,
• Personal problems,
• Misunderstandings and friction between caregivers and kid’s parents,
• Very demanding children.
• Too many children needing special attention and care.
Even when you are stressed remember to:
• Listen first: people are more interested to hear from you when they believe you are listening to what they are saying. This makes them more willing to hear you and help.
• Be clear and concise: Provide your information in small chunks that are easily understandable. Brevity and repetition help in this situation. You can ask periodically for confirmation to ensure you are being understood.
• Watch your Non-verbal message: try to make your communication as personal as possible. Make eye contacts, articulate your message, observe, and respond to non-verbal clue too.
• Self-improve and adapt: Recognize what cause the stress and try to eliminate it. It could sometimes require getting used to it or simply ignoring it. Just get better.
When you are stressed, there is the activation of the fight, flight, or freeze responses and these get in the way of effective communication. It also affects listening and comprehension. Don’t deny the fact that you are stressed and frustrated at the moment. Acceptance will help you in managing it better. Identify clearly as possible what is causing the stress, allow yourself to let it out and calm yourself down. Create a plan to eliminate that stress.
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Communication in Stressful Situations