Communication Quiz Results: Your Loved One Is a Demonstrator
What Is a Demonstrator?
Demonstrators are easy, breezy people who live for relationships, excitement, and novelty. They love socializing and hate conflict. A demonstrator literally needs human contact to be happy. Demonstrators love adventure and the thrill of discovering something new. They resist routines, plans, and schedules and tend to live in the moment.
A demonstrator is likely to be that friend who calls you up out of the blue to suggest a road trip or dinner at a new, exotic restaurant. In the workforce, demonstrators often choose jobs in marketing, the hospitality industry, or in entertainment. Many of them also go into education—they’re those teachers everyone loves, who remember every student’s name, make every subject exciting, and who stick in people’s minds for years afterwards.
In retirement, demonstrators are often busy with clubs and social engagements and trips and friends. However, if finances get tight or their mobility becomes limited, demonstrators may become depressed. They need the constant whirl of activity and social time to stay happy, so as a caregiver you may need to make a special effort to make sure your demonstrator gets out of the house every day.
Demonstrators tend to be bubbly, exuberant communicators. Their tendency to avoid conflict and accentuate the positive may make it tough to deal with the harsh realities of difficult situations. They need praise and a chance to talk through their feelings. They tend to make decisions impulsively, and may need help staying on task or making realistic plans and schedules. However, they’ll also tell you what’s on their minds and tend to be very open about their emotions.
Communicating with a Demonstrator
The following are a few general tips for communicating effectively with a demonstrator.
- Begin with a compliment. Demonstrators are the ultimate people-pleasers. Because they want you to feel happy and to approve of them, show your approval at the outset. This will help them focus on the issues you want to discuss.
- Gently redirect the conversation from tangents. Demonstrators love to talk, but they don’t always focus on the issue at hand. They’re friendly and bubbly and it’s easy to let them derail a planned conversation. Gently redirect them to the issue you want to discuss, and expect to have to redirect them more than once.
- Be spontaneous. Demonstrators often seem allergic to plans and schedules. If you tell them that you want to have a specific discussion at a specific time, they may dread it. Try to appear spontaneous. Talk while you walk, go out for coffee. Don’t make a conversation feel like a board meeting.
- Start with feelings. Demonstrators are highly social people and care a lot about your feelings, and their own. If you’re discussing a difficult topic, start with feelings. Ask how they feel, and respond with a statement about how you feel.
- Focus on the big picture, save details for later. Some people can’t see the forest for the trees. Demonstrators love the forest and don’t see the need to consider individual trees unless they’re especially interesting. Use your discussions with a demonstrator to address big picture issues. Don’t bother them with details until the details become urgent.
- Stay positive, talk about what can go right in a situation. For a demonstrator, long catalogues of what can go wrong are irritating and demoralizing. They prefer to make choices based on the positives of each alternative, not the negatives, so keep the conversation focused on those positives.
- Work together on formal plans. While demonstrators dislike planning and schedules, they feel trapped when they’re locked into a plan imposed by someone else. Try to find fun and exciting ways to work with demonstrators on plans for difficult decisions and transitions.
- Be prepared to move on quickly. Demonstrators don’t like to brood. They make decisions quickly and then move on to their next big adventure. It’s not that they lack depth, they just don’t see the point of working over the same subject matter again and again. Once you’ve had a difficult conversation and made a choice, don’t keep bringing it up again. The demonstrator is done and already on to something else.
These are always good tips to keep in mind as you communicate with a demonstrator, but they’re especially important as you talk with your loved one about the issues surrounding aging. Gregarious, cheerful, and energetic, demonstrators are dramatically affected by loss of mobility, isolation, or health crises. Good communication can help your demonstrator navigate obstacles and disappointments as she finds new ways to connect with her friends, family, and community.
Your demonstrator may need your help to make realistic long-term plans, deal with the “boring” details of aging, and to forge lasting social connections as everything is changing. By communicating in a style that fits his personality, you can help him make necessary transitions into grand adventures. You never know where your journey with a demonstrator will take you, but it’s certain to be interesting.
Use the links below to learn about communicating with your demonstrator about:
Institute on Aging Blog
Karyn Skultety, PhD
Executive Director, Openhouse SF