When Your Loved One Has Borderline Personality Disorder

What other strategies can reduce conflict?

Listening and reflecting can be the most effective strategy in communicating with someone with BPD. Though you might disagree with every word that is spoken, listening is not the same as agreeing. It is simply acknowledging a person’s emotions and perspective. Ask open-ended questions that encourage them to share, such as “What happened today that caused you to feel this way?” or “Tell me about how your week is going.”

Statements of reflection and summarizing can also help an individual feel heard. For example, if your son shares that he thinks you value his sister more than him, you can say, “You feel that we don’t love you as much as your sister.” The temptation to argue and point out their bias will be present, but just remind yourself that reflecting is not agreeing. This type of communication is not about winning an argument or being right. It’s about helping your family member feel heard and deescalating conflict.

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