(In this teen workshop, RiseUP Cooperative’s CEO and co-founder reviews some tips and tricks for effective communication. Sandy Pricer worked as a social services caseworker before she became the mother of six children, who currently range in age from 9 to 17.)
People communicate in many different ways to convey feelings, needs, and ideas. They might use their voices or write a note, and they might also use facial expressions and body language. The way we communicate is very important, because it gives other people one of their first impressions of us and is a key tool for building healthy relationships. Our communication skills demonstrate the level of respect we have for ourselves, our friends, our family, and others we meet.
Making statements that begin with “I” (rather than “You”) can help us communicate our feelings, needs, and ideas positively, without blame or name-calling.
When talking with multiple people, either in a group setting or while making a presentation, try to utilize these four strategies:
• Be calm.
• Be open-minded.
• Be honest.
• Be prepared.
The three most common styles of communication are passive, aggressive, and assertive. Passive communicators don’t stand up for themselves or defend their attitudes or beliefs. Aggressive communicators try to get their own way, often through bullying and intimidation. Assertive communicators defend their attitudes and beliefs, but they also respect the rights of others.
Believe it or not, communication isn’t all about talking. To be effective, it also requires both active and reflective listening. Active listening means paying attention to what someone else is saying and letting that person know that you’re engaged in the conversation. Do not interrupt the speaker! If you can see the person who is speaking to you, be sure to make eye contact and use nonverbal body language (such as nodding your head in agreement or widening your eyes in surprise) to show that you’re actively listening. Reflective listening means that once a person is done speaking, the listener will paraphrase or summarize what the speaker just said.