September 24, 2020 | Kellie Smith & Stella Beard

Stella: Well, thank you all so much for joining us today for Kentucky SPINs LunchShop webinars series on collaborative communication. We are so happy that you are with us today. I’m going to go over a little bit of housekeeping before we get started, but I want to tell you, of course we’re all working for me home, or a lot of us are working from home and you may hear my dogs bark. You may hear m...

Stella: Well, thank you all so much for joining us today for Kentucky SPINs LunchShop webinars series on collaborative communication. We are so happy that you are with us today. I’m going to go over a little bit of housekeeping before we get started, but I want to tell you, of course we’re all working for me home, or a lot of us are working from home and you may hear my dogs bark. You may hear my child come in. So I’m just wanting to warn you now, that life happens. And I just want to let you know, it just, it never fails. It seems like my dog bark on every single one.

[00:00:38] But we just want to thank you for joining us today. We have a great webinar for you. And so we’re going to get started with just a little bit of housekeeping. On your right hand side of your screen should be your dashboard and you will see a box that says questions. If you drop down that box, you can type a question in and I’ll be monitoring those throughout our presentation today. And be happy to answer those for you as we go along through the presentation.

[00:01:06] Also, you will see a box that says, or a drop down box that says handout. And under that you will see five handouts we have provided for you. One is the PowerPoint from the presentation, and we also have four additional handouts in regard to communication that we think are very, very important that you will get some great benefit from. I will let you know that we will follow-up this afternoon with an email, which will also have those links to the handouts, in case you don’t have time to download them during the presentation.

[00:01:40] So before we get started. I want to tell you just a little bit about Kentucky SPIN, which is  Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network. We are the parent training and information center for the State of Kentucky. And we have been since 1988. And that’s when, Kentucky first received the PTI funding. And so we’re very excited, that we are the parent training and information center for Kentucky.

[00:02:08] What we do is we provide information and support for children and youth with all types of disabilities birth through age 26, their parents, families, and professionals. And that’s just really, really important.

[00:02:21] One of the, I think we do not do though, is we do not act as attorneys. But however, we empower families to effectively advocate for their children and we provide peer support to help families access needed information and resources. The great thing about Kentucky SPIN staff is we are all family members, who have a child with an intellectual developmental disability, we have a sibling or we have a disability ourselves.

[00:02:49] I have a 24 year old son with an intellectual disability. So I’ve been involved in special education for many, many years. And our speaker today, who is also our Training Coordinator for Kentucky SPIN, Kellie Smith, she also has an adult son with a disability.

[00:03:08] So we bring that professional, parent perspective. And so we think that’s a really good tool that we can provide families. So without further ado, I’m going to have Kellie join us now and she is going to be doing the presentation.

[00:03:24] But remember if you have a question, just type it in the question box, Kellie will pause throughout, if we need to answer any questions and so Kellie can, can you hear me?

[00:03:35] Kellie: I can.

[00:03:36] Stella: All right. You’re free to go.

[00:03:40] Kellie: Alright. Well, good afternoon, everyone as Stella said, I’m Kellie Smith and I’m the Training Coordinator for Kentucky SPIN. I’ve been with Kentucky SPIN for almost five years now. I love it, it is a dream come true to be able to work in an environment that I previously worked in and did not get paid. So it was a win-win for me. And I’m super happy to be here.

[00:04:08] As Stella said, I have a 23 year old son who has a traumatic brain injury. And so we have been through lots and lots of things together. We’ve experienced lots of hills and lots of valleys. So I hope to use kind of some of our personal stories, as well as the information in this presentation to kind of help you understand things a little more clearly and the importance of collaborative communication.

[00:04:39] So what do we mean when we say collaborative communication? Overall, the definition of collaborative communication is to work jointly with others while effectively expressing ideas.

[00:04:54] So you should always be working together and then jointly and effectively expressing those ideas. Lots of people think that communication is very one sided and that’s going to be a large topic of this workshop. 

[00:05:11] So the foundation who all good communication can be summed up in this one, quote, First seek to understand. Then to be understood. Dr. Covey is the author of several books, which include the international bestseller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

[00:05:32] And I love that quote. When we are communicating with someone, our goal should be to understand their perspective and what they’re saying, and then to help them understand our perspective and what we’re saying to them.

[00:05:54] So you can set the tone of a meeting or a conversation before you ever speak a word. The way you approach someone in the situation can have a huge impact on the outcome. An example might be if you say kind things, but you roll your eyes. If any of us have teenagers, we understand that. Yes, mother with a big fat eye roll.

[00:06:19] And so you don’t really hear the words that are being said when they’re fake or the person you’re speaking to body is saying something completely different. So what you know is the words that are coming out of their mouth are insincere based on the way their face looks or the faces they’re making or their body language.

[00:06:45] So approximately 10% of communication of words, there are approximately 10% of communication is spoken words, 30% is your tone of voice, and 60% is body language.

[00:07:07] And so every action even silence is a communication. For example, you may think, you know what this man is saying, maybe he’s saying, Oh, I’m amazing, or, Hey, look at me. Without him having to say a word, it’s the way he’s standing, the way he’s presenting himself speaks for itself. So does if someone’s standing in front of you and they stomp their foot, roll their eyes, cross their arms. Like I say, every action is communication.

[00:07:46] And so for effective communication, you want to listen twice as much as you talk. And I know we’ve probably all heard this, our entire lives. And throughout our lives we’re usually taught that communication is 50, 50. First you talk, then I talk, then you talk again, then I talk again and back and forth and back and forth. But while when we’re doing that, what’s happening is while you’re talking, I’m thinking about how am I going to respond to that. Or that reminds me of this, or don’t forget to go to the grocery store. So I’m not really listening to what that person is saying, I’m thinking about what I’m going to say next. That is not having communication with someone. That’s thinking, not listening.

[00:08:44] So communication is not just about talking. It’s really about paying attention to what the other person is saying, focusing on the conversation and we call that active listening.

[00:08:55] So there’s some elements of active listening. And as you can see here, the very first eliminate is to be attentive. People are not actively listening when they jump to conclusions about what the other person really means. Or maybe become judgmental because they don’t agree with that person saying. And if you find yourself kind of shutting down in that situation, try to overcome that and keep listening. Try to continue to give your attention so that you can be sure that you haven’t misunderstood the situation.

[00:09:35] And one way of making sure that you understand what the person means is to repeat it back to them in your own words or paraphrase. So, don’t go overboard, but say, okay, so what I hear you saying is this, or, you know, okay, so I understand that you’re telling me this. And sometimes I even have to say if someone’s talking about something, sometimes I’ve had to butt in and say, I need you to slow down, and explain it to me like I’m a six year old. Because if a six year old can understand it, I should be able to, hopefully. And sometimes I just need someone to break things down for me because I don’t want to misunderstand. And I don’t want to fight with someone, over something that I’ve misunderstood.

[00:10:30] You also need to be aware, not only of their body language, but also of your own. Pay attention to your posture and facial expressions, turn towards the person and make eye contact. In certain cultures, eye contact though could be considered rude, so you want to know of, just be aware of your surroundings.

[00:10:53] And like right now, virtually it’s really hard to make eye contact with anyone, right. Because we’re really just looking at a computer screen. So Stella has sent something out a while back, and it was just tips on hosting webinars or something. And I really struggled to look into my camera when I’m talking. I want to look at my screen, at their faces. So when they see me on their screen, I’m not looking at them. I’m looking kind of down.

[00:11:27] So something that, that Stella had shared with us said, you know, to place something like tape something to the back of your computer or whatever, so that you look at that thing. Like a little, you know, picture of an audience, or maybe it’s just a flag or something, but something for you to look at so that you have something to focus on rather than the dot on that camera, because we tend to draw away from that. So I thought that was an excellent, excellent idea. Some people probably couldn’t care less, but that was just mind blowing to me because I had never thought to do that, to give myself that visual. So it does work and I do recommend it.

[00:12:18] So the next couple of slides are just a little cartoons. In the first you see a man and a newspaper and the wife is telling him, you can stop saying, uhuh. I stopped talking to you an hour ago. So obviously he was just engaging in, you know, patterns .She’s talking and he’s just like, uhuh, uhuh, uhuh. So, and that happens. That happens, that unfortunately happens a lot at my house, but it’s usually reverse. It’s usually my husband is talking and I the one going uhuh, uhuh, uhuh. Because I have a million other things on my mind, not that he’s not busy, let me insert that. But I have a lot going on in my mind and so I’m not always as attentive as I should be. And it often will cause a problem between us.

[00:13:11] Which kind of relates to the very next slide, where you got these two guys laying on a beach. And one says, I’m sorry, were you talking to me? Cause the other one literally was not responding or paying any attention. Maybe, wasn’t looking at, you know, making eye contact with him. And we don’t know if people are listening. You know, I might say something to my daughter and I’ll say, you know, why are you ignoring me? And she’ll say, I’m not ignoring you. Well, if she’s doesn’t look at me or doesn’t respond to me when I speak, I assume that she can’t hear me. And I think we all probably, or as majority of it, you know, feel the same way.

[00:14:01] So opinions and perspective. Collaborative communication values and respect the opinions, perspective and rights of both parties. Two heads are better than one. That’s the saying we hear often. And multiple perspectives help in problem solving and brain storming options.

[00:14:24] When we defend the rights of both parties that goes back to respect. In general, courtesy, not just legal right, but the right to speak without interruption, the right to disagree and the right to ask questions. If we expect to be respected, then we have to first give respect.

[00:14:47] So collaborative communication encourages both parents and professionals to express honest feelings, promote mutual respect, allow both discussion and disagreement, respect cultural differences while remaining child-focused.

[00:15:08] And so something I want to touch on about collaborative communication, allowing honest feelings and discussion as well as disagreement. I want to insert and this may even be included later in the presentation. It’s okay to change your mind. If you walk in to a meeting or you sit down for a conversation that needs to be had, and you know that you’re on different sides of the table, so to speak. It’s okay for the other person to really compel you to see their side and for you to change your mind.

[00:15:51] Lots of times people let prod get in the way of changing their mind. Lots of times people let pride get in the way of collaboratively communicating with someone. So I just strongly encourage you to keep in mind that collaborative communication allows for both discussion and disagreement while respecting each other and their honest feelings.

[00:16:21] Do we have any questions right now Stella?

[00:16:27] Stella: I don’t see any questions right now. You know I don’t even think I introduced myself at the beginning. I’m Stella Beard, you’ve said my name a couple of times, but I think I just jumped right into getting the LunchShop going. But no, we don’t have any questions right now, but just as a reminder to everyone, if you do have anything, go ahead and type them in the question box and Kellie will be happy to answer them.

[00:16:50] Kellie: I wonder if you have any comments? I’m sure the majority of us have some very interesting stories that we can tell. Whether that is when we’re wearing our parent hat and it’s, you know, communication with staff or doctors or nurses or whatever the case may be. Or if you’re a professional and you struggle to talk to parents. And we’ve had lots of workshops where teachers, they want to communicate with the parents of their students. And it’s very hard to do that. So if you have any stories that you would like to contribute, in the chat box or the question, either or I would love to hear them.

[00:17:38] And I would love to hear if it’s an issue that you had, how you overcame it which we’re also going to be talking about here just a little bit.

[00:17:51] So partnership. Partnership is a relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility as for the achievement of a specified goal. As parents, educators and professionals that work with individuals with disabilities our goal is the same, to help the children or young adults or adults have successful outcomes. The best outcomes occur when parents, the educators and the individuals that work with them can truly be partners in achieving that goal.

[00:18:39] And so we have to remember that communication between the parents and professionals is critical to the success of that child, young adult or adults with a disability. So keeping the child as the main focus will ensure the best possible outcome. We can’t let personality differences deter us from developing strong partnership.

[00:19:10] Okay, so I’m going to insert a story here about some barriers to communication. probably 10, 12 years ago I had been ordered, my son, he actually has, let me back up. He has actually had three brain injuries, in his lifetime. And two were relatively close together, one was 15 years later. So after his first brain injury, he was placed on the medication, that made him extremely violent. And that is not his character, you know, his character at all. He’s real quiet and laid back. He’s the most easy going guy in the whole world. And he was just, I mean violent, there’s no other words to describe it. This medication really completely changed who he was.

[00:20:23] And, I made a choice, as a parent, to stop giving him that medication after about a month, I guess. And we went back at the same time that he was prescribed this medication, we were also ordered to go to Lexington and have an MRI and an EEG. So we, you know, we do those, we go to Lexington and we do the MRI and the EEG. We get the meds, we stop the meds a month later. So three months after that initial visit, we go back for a follow-up, right.

[00:21:12] So I get there and they ask how the medicine is doing. I told them that I stopped it, now he hadn’t had any seizures or anything like that. I tell them that I stopped it, they were livid. The doctor was very upset, but the nurse was so upset with me. She was beyond furious, and you know, she said a few things and I, you know, kept my cool a little bit, you know, as much as I could, I kept my cool. I go throughout our appointment and it comes time to discuss the MRI and EEG results.

[00:22:05] And informs me that there is no record of me taking him for those tests. And I said, you know, I don’t really know what what’s telling you. I, I took him. And she says, well, did they give you anything? And I said, I mean no, it didn’t. But I had to wait for a while, you know, for the EEG, because they only had one machine and it was down in the ER and we went back and forth for a while.

[00:22:36] And then I hear her telling, and she was kind of standoffish and I was kind of defensive, you know, I guess, but then I hear her through the door, her and the doctor step out and I hear her through the door telling the doctor that they need to call social services because I was medically neglecting my son.

[00:23:03] That is a huge understatement, my son was literally terrified. Not because of the fight that was breaking out, but because he thought he was going to be stranded, and he didn’t know how he was going to get home. So we, you know, and we had it out. I mean, we had it out. It was ugly. It was very, very ugly and she had to walk away and I was trying to calm down and this other nurse comes in, he says, did they give you anything? Do you have any thing that can help you here?

[00:23:52] And it just so happens that when they had referred me, I thought the appointment was at UK, but it wasn’t, it was at Good Sam. And so I had sent an email to UK, thanking them for their shuttle, and explained to them that I would have missed my son’s appointment for his EEG, had it not been there. And then I was just, you know, ever so grateful. And I’m not saying that you have to do that. I’m saying that we had a really, really hard. That was, we’re talking about barriers to communication. It was very, very hard when that nurse came back in, for me to, you know, not go nuts again. That was a huge barrier in our communications. So luckily because I had sent that email, you know, that kept special services off our backs that day. But nonetheless, there was this huge, big, fat elephant in the room at that point, right.

[00:25:05] Some of the things that can cause barriers to communication are negative history, emotional responses, jargon, and alphabet soup but you can’t understand what they’re saying, because they’re using their technical terms or their professional terms, you know, we haven’t, we don’t have that degree. We haven’t been to that school, we don’t work there. So we don’t know what they’re saying. Or if you are fearful or intimidated. And I can honestly say that, that day I felt all blended two and four of that list.

[00:25:38] It was crazy and I didn’t ever want to go back. And even though that was the doctor that I love. And he had always treated my son and she had literally always been his nurse, I didn’t want to go back. So we’re going to talk about some tips and strategies. And in this, I will also include, you know, some of the things that I did to help kind of work through that situation.

[00:26:10] So some tips and strategies are be prepared before you go. Build up your own confidence by learning all you can before the meeting. Hook up with another parent, do some research, check out a book at the library. Find out what kind of workshops are available in your area. Or you can call us, you can always call Kentucky SPIN if you have questions.

[00:26:35] But when you’re going in to have a conversation, especially when that is going to be detrimental to your child, potentially, you need to be prepared. And then you need to nurture those relationships. You need to call, keep in touch, communicate, confirm early. You can even send a card or meet between meetings or volunteer to help out.

[00:27:03] You can’t build relationships if you only see someone once a year around the table. You’re not going to have a relationship with your child’s teacher if you only see them at ARC meetings. It’s important to continually keep communication, especially if you have concerns that you need to share.

[00:27:25] So just to kind of reiterate, obviously prepare yourself and then nurture that relationship. Because you want a relationship with these people. They have a relationship with your child, and if someone has a relationship with your child, obviously you want to have a relationship with them.

[00:27:47] Some other tips and strategies are set the tone of the meeting. You can bring a picture of your child or ask the team member to share something positive about that child. Bring fudge, bring cookies, people like to eat, the universal icebreaker. And work towards resolving differences of opinion.

[00:28:12] Now, when I say work towards resolving differences of opinion, sometimes you have to walk away. Sometimes in meetings or emotional, you know, emotions get kind of out of control, you might have to walk away for a while. You might have to cool down. So when I left that doctor’s appointment with my son, it took me a good long while to calm down. And I had to really, really evaluate and think about some things, you know, not only was I being accused of neglect, I was also called, you know, a bad mother. I was talked horribly about and to. And it was really, really hard for me to get through that.

[00:29:05] But when I was able to walk away and kind of step out of that situation, I tried to look at things from her perspective. She had been my son’s nurse for years. She knew him, you know, she saw the test results. She saw him when he was first discharged from the hospital, she had watched him grow up. She had seen his struggles. She had seen his successes. And she cared enough for him to stand up to me because she thought I was doing some, you know, a disservice to him. And so when I look at things from that perspective and she looked at things from my perspective, well, that’s his mom. And obviously she went because she sent this email.

[00:30:07] I don’t know why they haven’t sent me the record, but they, you know, they don’t have a record of it. And so when I went back three months later, it was awkward, but we were able to work through that. So fast forward, 10 years, we have an amazing relationship. Not only do we have a good, you know, personal relationship and professional relationship, as far as her being,  you know, my son’s former nurse, but she has also invited me into her office to help train her staff and invited me into her office to work with other parents. And that’s phenomenal.

[00:30:55] That was a huge barrier to overcome, but we overcame it, even though it took us getting out of the situation for a minute. So I just wanted to insert that, sometimes you have to step away. And that’s okay. Especially when it comes to our kids, we can get really emotional, really quick and things can get ugly before we know it.

[00:31:17] The goal is to try not to ever get in that situation, but if it happens, do whatever is necessary to get it under wraps as quickly as possible. And when we’re talking about, you know, bringing a picture to the meeting or whatever, ARC meetings can be extremely hard for parents. And I think a lot of the time, as a professional that’s at the table, maybe don’t see it from my perspective, the start goal is that they would, but it can be better very, very hard for us as parents. So starting on a positive note, bringing pictures so that you remember to be child focused and starting the meeting with someone saying something good about your child will help you a whole lot when you start hearing about the difficulty.

[00:32:14] So my next tip is to ask questions the way you want them answered. So did my son do well today? Yes, or, yeah, he did good or no he didn’t. Or you can say, how did my son do today? So when they answer that question, it’s going to require an explanation of how that day went. So keep in mind to ask questions the way you want them answered. If you’re  okay with a yes or no, then the first way did my son do well today, is perfectly fine.

[00:32:51] But if you want an explanation and you want that open dialogue between the two of you. Be sure that you ask it in a way that is going to require an answer, meaning you’re using closed-ended or open-ended questions. So open-ended questions require an explanation. Closed-ended questions require a short answer, either yes or no. Both are fine, but you want to focus on whatever serves the need that you have.

[00:33:29] Does anybody have anything that they want to add or share? We’re about to wrap up here in just a few minutes, but I wanted to give you all an opportunity to speak up if you’d like.

[00:33:50] Stella: I don’t see any questions right now, Kellie. But, I just wanted to chime in about the importance of, you know, communication that we’re all dealing with right now a lot. is through a text message. And sometimes that can be very, very misunderstood. Because, as you said in that one of the first slides, you know, that body language is a huge part of communication. When we text someone, we don’t, you know, see that. And so for example, if I text somebody back instead of just saying, okay, and I type K, sometimes I’ve had a friend even telling me this. She said, whenever you type just K I think you’re upset about something. Well, I’m just in a hurry. And I just put K instead of an O before it.

[00:34:40] So that’s like a miscommunication with her. So every time I would do that, she would think I was upset. So it’s really important that, especially when we’re texting, that we are very, very aware of what we’re saying or what we’re not saying that could be misunderstood.

[00:35:01] Kellie: I absolutely love that you said that. One of my biggest pet peeves is when my daughter texts me back and says either, okay, with the period, or K or K with a period. That absolutely sends me right over the edge. I will immediately go into, you know, an argument always, I know I should take my own advice, but anyway, me and my kid, and that’s how it happened. And I’m like, well, what’s your problem, but —

[00:35:40] Stella: Kellie, I’ll be sure not to ever send K to you.

[00:35:46] Kellie: I mean it does it, it immediately sets me off because I was taught in school that a period means you’re ending the conversation. You’re ending, you know, you’ve finished, that’s it. And so when she says, okay period, or K period, oh my goodness. It tears me up.

[00:36:08] And of course we all know that they say using caps, it means you’re yelling. I know lots of young people, especially for young people, they seem to, you know, know that automatically. For the longest time I used caps, so I wouldn’t have to, you know, capitalize words that needed to be capitalized. It was nothing about yelling. But, you know, I’ve had to change that because of the way people perceive, you know, written communication.

[00:36:42] So absolutely, I’m super happy that you brought that up. And I know lots and lots and lot of communication get kind of out of hand and it’s all just a misunderstanding. Because of, you know, either punctuation or lack of punctuation or using caps or taking shortcuts or whatever.

[00:37:09] So, differences of opinion. Use LUCK. LUCK is an acronym for listen to and restate the other person’s opinion. Use a respectful tone. Compromise or change your opinion if necessary. And Know and state the reason for your opinion. It’s very important that if you believe strongly in something that you know, and can explain why you feel that way.

[00:37:45] And lots of times we need to explain so that we can help someone understand our perspective. We may need to explain to them why we feel the way we do about some things. And there’s no shame in us explaining to them or them needing the explanation. And again, there’s also no shame in changing your mind or opinion if necessary.

[00:38:19] So also, parents, please remember that the people you were working with also care for your child very much. You need to remember that you have such important information and it’s important for you to share that information. Be confident, your input is valuable. And it completes the big picture. So be comfortable to speak up and share. Remember that is your baby and you know them better than anyone.

[00:38:54] And even if collaboration or communication has not been so, you know, has been not so collaborative in the past, you can always change by modeling collaborative, communication behaviors.

[00:39:11] Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. It’s almost always hard for me to do the right thing when someone’s being snarky towards me. I tend to want to, you know, fight back, but you can change the tone of a meeting. And I know that, you know, I did it professionally many, many, many times. When you have people who are angry and it’s up to you to remain calm and kind of stem the situation. And then they come along, you as a parent can do the exact same thing. You can guide that conversation with your actions, and the things that you’ve learned today.

[00:39:51] So coming together is a beginning. Working together for a common goal is progress and good collaborative communication is a success.

[00:40:05] So, I wanted to remind everyone that we have Tuesday Tips webinars every Tuesday at 11 o’clock. That is how you will get the latest information and guidance officially related to COVID-19. But the topics will continue to vary. And then every Thursday we have additional webinars on a variety of different topics. You should receive the information on those webinars in the email that you’ll receive this afternoon.

[00:40:38] And then for the most up-to-date information and resources for individuals with disabilities, their families and professionals, during COVID-19, you can visit our COVID web page. And sign up for the Kentucky SPIN e-news if you haven’t already. That’s sent on a regular basis, we do not sell your email address. And that is the best way to ensure that you say up to date on everything that not only Kentucky SPIN has going on, but we share a lot of information for a lot of other organizations that are beneficial to you.

[00:41:14] And if you don’t mind, please take a moment when this webinar ends to fill out our evaluation, is going to pop up automatically, probably in a new window when the webinar ends. And again, if you have any questions or if you have any issues or you need assistance with anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

[00:41:41] And I appreciate your time. And I thank you all for attending—

[00:41:46] Stella: Kellie I want to let them know, just really quick about our Tuesday Tip. That is going to be next Tuesday on September the 29th. We have a special guest speaker, her name is Dr. Laura Clarke. She’s a special education consultant for the Northern Kentucky Educational Cooperative and she is going to be talking to us about giving us some virtual tips and strategies for families without internet access. So I think that’s going to be a really, really good Tuesday Tips.

[00:42:21] And like Kellie said, you can go on our webinar and register for that. Dr. Clarke has been a presenter for us on a couple of other webinars, and she always does an amazing job. So if you have some time and you want to hop on next Tuesday for that, we would really appreciate you joining us.

[00:42:40] So now you can close up Kellie.

[00:42:44] Kellie: All right. Well, you all have a great day and thank you again for joining us.