How to Build Healthy Communication Skills

Communication is a vital part of our day to day lives. Each and everyone of us need communication to share our thoughts and express our ideas. Communication is a powerful tool that has the power to affect our relationships with ourselves and with others. Communication, and more importantly, the quality of our communication, is powerful enough to affect our quality of life.

On September 30, 2021, the Revitaled team hosted its first ever workshop.

The topic of communication resonated strongly with our audience, who candidly shared their experiences with us. During this workshop we addressed the following subjects:

  • What communication is.
  • Myths about communication.
  • Why healthy communication skills are important.
  • A roadmap to building healthy and positive communication skills.
  • Communication basics (built with releasees in mind).
  • How to communicate negative feelings in positive ways.
  • How to communicate with different people in your life, and those with different personalities, in challenging situations.
  • How to build relationships with others from a foundation of positive communication.

The discussion during and after our workshop led us to realize unique challenges surrounding communication facing those impacted from crime and the criminal justice system, and practitioners within the correctional and judicial system. Training regiments provided to those working with victims and offenders are very homogenous and are not inclusive of unique experiences and adverse challenges impacting offenders, survivors, and victims of crime.

Our biggest takeaway from this workshop was the importance of listening and strategic thinking as a critical tool for practitioners to create positive spaces for positive communication with offenders, survivors, and victims of crime.

A key component of effectively communicating with vulnerable populations and those who have been through traumatic experiences is to create safe spaces that encourage respect and positivity.

Ways that this can be done is through:

  1. Providing your full and undivided attention to the person speaking. As mentioned in our workshop, part of effective communication is active listening. Active listening can be displayed verbally through responsive cues (i.e., nodding) or repetition through question.
  2. Do not interrupt the other person while they are speaking. This suggests that you don’t care what they have to say, which could damage the trust within your relationship. Working effectively with vulnerable populations and those who have been in traumatic situations requires an ample amount of trust. Allowing the person you are speaking to to complete their thoughts demonstrates that you are interested in what they are saying, and that you have respect for them, their emotions, and their experiences.
  3. Ask questions for follow-up. This is something most practitioners do anyway within professional settings; however, this is something that we can do with our clients in less formal settings as well. Questions show that we are listening and that we are interested. When others feel like we are interested in what they are sharing, they feel more compelled to share because they feel valued.
  4. Ask for permission. Asking for permission provides the person that we are speaking to with autonomy and empowerment. For example, if we ask them for permission before asking a personal question, it creates room for our questions to be received thoughtfully. Additionally, remind your client that they have permission as well, whether it’s asking you questions or talking for an extra amount of time on a topic that they are really passionate about or expressing an unaddressed concern.

The goal in creating safe spaces is multifold; however, when we talk about communication with our clients, we want to create safe spaces to understand their experiences. In doing so, we can then create effective solutions to assist them in growing and thriving.

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