Building Birth Bridges: Communication

This post is part 5 of my CAPPA re-cap series.

The final day of the CAPPA conference I heard Polly Perez speak about Building Bridges with an emphasis on communication and fear. She described four basic communication and emphasized that communication is a two-way street.

The four styles are:

  • Expressive
  • Sympathetic
  • Direct
  • Systematic

Each style has its strengths and also ways in which it is perceived by others. You should give information in the simplest way to the person you are talking to and adjust your style of communication depending on who you’re talking to, changing communication behavior in order to improve communication. Communication is the lifeblood of all relationships.

She shared this quote:

Luke: I don’t believe it. Yoda: that is why you fail.

And she explained that listening is active, not a passive activity. Listen with empathy, openness, and awareness:“Use language that lets you share your heart openly.”

She also asserted that we must stop letting our practices be fear-based, quoting Connie Pike in saying, “We must give people the opportunity to challenge their fears. Not only will this change each person, it will change the political and medical climate in which they make these choices.”

In communicating within in the medical system, Polly pointed out that a fundamental issue is with the power hierarchy and that we must develop strategies that enhance problem solving, but still retain and support the person in power. (**I’m a little too radical, I guess, for this tip, which is perhaps why I’ve not found a niche working within a medical system and instead work outside of it.) She suggested asking yourself: What does this person you are talking to fear? She also quoted Bethany Hayes “Working in Circle” who said with regard to working in hospital climates, “we found a system that was as sick as the people it was treating.” Changing sick systems is not about subterfuge but bringing light to situations that need to be altered.

Polly then made an observation that I found very powerful and very telling:

We have taken the hearts and minds out of much of our work because we’re frightened of getting too close. But, close is where we need to be.


During a different session, but closely related to this topic of communication, I laughed out loud watching this video clip of twin babies communicating with each other. I’m going to use this in future classes.

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