I’ve been writing a lot! Ironically, it has not all been associated with this blog. Sorry about that. But, the writing: I’m writing to share other’s stories, writing to organize my thoughts, writing to parents of the children I tutor, writing podcast episodes…writing, writing, writing. And in all of that writing, I find that my mind is clearer and my thoughts and ideas more organized.
Sometimes the words are a struggle. But, when I am at a loss for words I start talking out loud. I start sharing my ideas with friends and family, talking through ideas when no one is in the room, and jotting ideas on notes that are scattered around my workspace.
There are spreadsheets, calendars, post-it notes, and outlines. But something else has increased dramatically in the last few months. Communication.
I’m communicating more with others than I ever did before. There are meaningful conversations taking place, not just daily chit-chat. I’m using my words (as I used to tell my students) in ways that are expanding my horizons. You see, when I write, I’m often reading, researching, reflecting, and journaling. But now, I’m communicating. There is a huge difference. These communications take place in many forms and all of it is making me a better version of myself.
I’m teaching English to students who speak little to no English. Communication comes in many forms with them. I make faces, act things out, and direct them to answer questions and read with body signals. My words are clear and over-pronounced, striking each syllable. I’m often one to speak quickly and jumble my words and thoughts. But with these students, mumbling is not an option. I am also forced to pause, stop, listen, and reflect before responding; another skill I often struggle with. In this situation, I’m getting a lot of practice, and that goes a long way in helping me as I traverse other areas of communication in my life.
For instance, more and more individuals are reaching out to me to share their story. They want to be heard. They want to know that they are not alone. Listening skills come in good here. When someone is struggling, they often need to unload their fears and doubts. There is a time to speak, however, sometimes the silence speaks volumes. It is a lesson I am learning. It is no longer about my issues, my story, and my goals, it is about helping others manage theirs. And in hearing their stories, I am reminded how many different stories there are.
Communication is a broad skill, one that we learn best by practicing. The more you listen to others, the better you will become. The more you share your story, the more comfortable you become talking about that which is difficult. The more you open your mind and carefully listen to the stories around you, the more in tune you become with your fellow human.