The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Friday 9 October 2015

Communication is Precarious

Communication is a skill that is a crucial one in the community development worker’s tool kit.  By practicing effective communication the community development worker is better able to do their job, as well as providing a good role model to those around them.

Talking, speaking, hearing, listening.  What could be easier?  After all, we have grown up doing it, haven’t we.  As babies, we heard our parents, or other adults voices.  We learnt to imitate the words and then tested them out, by speaking.  Simple, piece of cake.

So, how is it that communication can be so difficult sometimes?  Why does apparently simple communication break-down?  Simply because there are at least six processes going on in the simple transaction between one person and another.  Think about it.  Before I say something to another person I must first have a thought or intuition.  Then I must put that thought into words, before finally speaking those words.

The person to whom I am speaking then goes through the opposite three stage process.  First, they must hear my words.  Then they interpret those words, give the words meaning and finally, derive a thought from that interpretation.

That’s six steps.  I am not suggesting that every communication flows in this logical step-by-step manner, nor am I suggesting that any of it is necessarily conscious.  However, each of these elements is involved in some way in my communication with one other person.

That means there are six ways in which communication can break down, can go astray and lead quickly to mis-communication.  And, that’s just with one other person!

Learning Listening and Speaking

Effective communication is something that can be learned, but rarely do we take the time to do so. 
How can we more effectively listen?  We can learn to focus on the speaker and their words by not interrupting, avoiding distractions, watching for non-verbal cues, not pre-judging, and not making assumptions.

As a speaker we can improve our communication by focussing on our internal thought processes.  One technique is to use the THINK acronym, by asking ourselves whether what we want to say is:
  • Truthful
  • Honest
  • Inspiring
  • Necessary
  • Kind
Next time you find yourself in a conversation that seems to have become derailed, step back and see if you can figure out where the problem may be.  It may be in your thinking patterns, in the words you use or in the speech you have just given.  Similarly, it may be that you were distracted at a crucial time that someone was telling you something and you never heard the words, or that you interpreted their words in a different way to that in which the speaker intended. 

It may be worth talking about the mis-communication.  This time listening attentively and speaking thoughtfully.

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