Things to consider when communicating with earthquake victims

Dr. Instructor Member Gülin Güneri said: “It is necessary to use crisis method skills when communicating with earthquake victims and the relatives of our citizens who have lost their lives. Nervous systems are stimulated because survivors have experienced so many intense things. Therefore, avoid behavior that could startle them: approach suddenly or speak loudly, etc. Approach the victim with slow steps from a visible distance and do not make unintentional physical contact with the person in front of you. This approach allows you to give survivors a sense of confidence and control and create a calm environment. Reassure survivors that their response is natural. Let survivors know there are others who feel the same way. Bring family, children, parents and other relatives together as much as possible. Help survivors build relationships with their close friends and loved ones.”


Guneri continued:

“When communicating with survivors, speak calmly, simply and clearly. Be sure to introduce yourself when you speak. Find out the name of the person in front of you; Call him by his first name and you. Make the other person feel you care as you talk. Don’t force people to tell their story, especially not to go into personal details. Don’t interrupt the person. Don’t finish the sentences. Don’t try to comfort the person with simple phrases like “Everything will be fine” or “At least you’re alive.” Don’t make comments like “Relax”, “It’s getting worse”, “Be thankful for that”. “Do you need something?” you may ask. However, don’t insist on offers like “Let me bring you this, it’ll be fine.”


Güneri said silence is the best support in this process and added:

“If survivors and their families want to share their stories and feelings, pay close attention. Just listen and just listen. Have a respectful and warm demeanor while listening. Show that you’re listening by nodding your head or with a soft facial expression, without making too many gestures. As you listen, listen with empathy, without judgment, without criticism. Even if the person doesn’t want to talk, stay calm. Silence is the best support in this situation.”

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