Communication - The Four Pillars Pt. 3
“I help young men find the motivation to live intentionally, communicate effectively, and to serve those around them. “
Communication: When I came home from Hawaii to visit, I would get inundated with questions about the work I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited about my job, and I enjoyed sharing. Still, sometimes it was challenging to paint a realistic picture of the gardens, the experiences, and the beautiful transformations I witnessed. I struggled to explain how horticulture, coupled with intention and a team of talented and dedicated people, could catalyze sustainable changes in our students. Eventually, I started responding with, “basically, I teach kids how to communicate effectively.”
This description excludes the beauty I described above, but in many ways, it boils behavioral health down to its purest essence. Effective communication is the foundation that allows other work to take place. And effective communication provides an adolescent with arguably, the most effective tool they will ever have; the ability to explain what they are feeling, what they need, and how they can get it.
Last week I worked with a client who was insistent that his mother could never understand where he was coming from because she “just wouldn’t get it.” I asked, “Have you ever tried to explain it to her?” He looked down, seemingly aware of the contradiction in this situation. “No…,” he replied.
This happens more than you would think. Many teenagers need the encouragement to explain themselves, and they need to be taught HOW to explain themselves. I start teaching effective communication by using the simple formula: Calm, Direct, and Respectful. I practice communication exercises with my clients and hold them accountable to the CDR framework. If an adolescent can learn to stay calm, direct, and respectful, they immediately have more weight behind their message, and it is more likely they will be heard.
Once they have mastered the CDR skills, we branch out into feeling words. We expand their emotional literacy and create connections between the way their internal mechanisms influence their external outputs.
There are bumps along the way, but the process works, and all of my clients come away with skills that allow them to communicate more effectively.