Most of us have been brought up in an environment, where we have not been given enough space for personal attention. Where we have struggled to be heard and seen, where more importance was placed upon our ability to listen and follow instructions.
For some, this may have occurred within their home and for many it occurred within the educational system. As a result, so many of us struggle to find ways in which we can express our own needs, simply because we have never been shown or encouraged to do so.
There is, that age old expression, that children should be seen and not heard and that is something that some people still expect, in some parts of society today, I have witnessed it myself many times. Where people become visibly upset when they hear children being “ loud”. So of course it is difficult for many children to share their needs if they are being treated as 2nd class citizens.
Where they are expected to listen and observe , to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves. So in the end, we learn that the only way in which to be heard is to act out or to do something that draws attention to us. We can also manipulate situations and conversations in order to receive some empathy. Systemic learning that has become ingrained in us and that can become really hard to shift.
We may very well be contributing to this problem as well, with out even being aware of it, doing things with the best intentions.
Sometimes we may be suppressing a children’s ability to express themselves, without even realizing it. Think about how many times you reached out to a child who is physically upset by saying, “oh don’t cry”, and yes, that comes from a place of love, but children tend to take the things we say literally, so in their eyes we are telling them to stop. I know that I am guilty of doing that.
I have done this, because I do not like to see a child upset, but instead of encouraging them to express themselves, we encourage them to shut down.
The way in which we word things, and the words that we choose to use, are so important! Sometimes it can just be a small adjustment, like 'oh I am sorry to see you cry, can you tell me what has upset you'. This way we get to express our concern for them and also encourage them to express themselves, to show them that their feelings matter.
Something so simple and yet so effective. Something we are not taught or even told to consider.(Well I certainly wasn't) Most of our difficulties with communication, stem from childhood experiences. From times in our lives where we felt unheard and unworthy. If we can somehow reach out to one child, to one adult, imagine the difference it can make for them and for us, as a collective.
After all of the training that I have done recently and all that I have learnt about emphatic listening, I can see the importance in helping others to explore the different ways in which we can provide opportunities for greater awareness and understanding around communication.
Today our final day was all about feedback and the importance of providing it, especially within our community, but also on a personal level, be it supportive or critical and the role it plays in our personal growth. Feedback is something that some may struggle with, even the mention of it can put them in the defense mode. Especially if they are mostly used to receiving negative feedback.
I have realized how my view of view back has changed down through the years and how generally now I welcome it as I want to grow and improve myself and how valuable it is in that process. There are also many different to feedback, both receiving it and giving it.
It’s important to realize that some people, end up discharging their own pain rather that actual giving you personal feedback, they may be triggered by a certain behavior you have expressed, and that it is usually a reflection, of a need of theirs that they have not yet met. So if you are giving feedback, make sure that it is for the actual person and not for yourself!
To check in with the reasons you want to give the feedback in the first place, taking the time for personal reflection first.
You can really help people to see themselves in a different light, by providing opportunities for feedback, be in on a 1 to 1 basis or within a group. If you are passionate about community, then you need to be passionate about helping people to grow within that community, if one grows then we all grow!
One thing I forgot to mention is the importance of consent, when offering feedback to make sure that they are open to it. If they are, then invite that person to give feedback on themselves, this gives you an opportunity to see their level of awareness and also what type of feedback may best be suited for them.
It's a learning curve for us all, a wonderful opportunity in which we can deepen our connection with someone. There has to be a level of trust there between the two persons, or persons who are taking part if the feedback process.
It is certainly something that I look forward to implementing more in my personal life and work life.