Good afternoon. Today I am blogging to discuss two communication skills that are important to embody when leading policy change. The ability to communicate with people at all levels is one of the most important skills one can have. Clear communication is essential in understanding one another as well as enabling us to resolve differences, build trust and respect, and create safe environments for open and honest discussion (Helpguide.org, n.d.). One communication skill that is important to embody is listening. Listening is both understanding the words spoken by another person as well as understanding how the speaker feels when they are communicating and what they are communicating about (Helpguide.org, n.d.). Listening is an important skill, especially when leading policy change. You are listening to students, parents, the community, your school district and or early childcare center, other early childhood professionals, community leaders, and political representatives. By listening effectively to all of these stakeholders you are building connections with them as well, which will aid in changing policy.
Another communication skill that is essential to embody is managing stress while communicating. Chronic stress affects effective communication by disrupting the capacity to think clearly and can lead to knee-jerk reactions (Helpguide.org, n.d.). Dealing with stress during communication is important at all times, especially when leading policy change when tempers can run high. There are several things to remember when dealing with stress during communication: know your buttons and recognize when you are becoming stressed; take a minute to calm down before continuing with the conversation; use humor to lighten the situation; be willing to compromise, especially important in policy discussions; and agree to disagree, again, especially important in policy discussions (Helpguide.org, n.d.). One idea that helps me is to remember that others can be feeling stress too and to put myself in their shoes.
In relation to these two skills, I have both strengths and opportunities for improvement. One strength I have in listening is that I focus on the speaker by showing interest; I make eye contact and I do not check my phone for emails or texts. An area for improvement is that I need to listen fully and not be waiting for my turn to talk. One strength I have in managing my stress during conversations is that I can usually always see the positive in everything. In addition, I use humor to de-escalate situations and I am always willing to work with others to find a middle ground. I use these strategies daily in my work and I feel I can apply them to other areas, like policy change.
Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important of all life skills. Communication, whether it is verbal, written, or nonverbal, how well we communicate with one another is a vital life skill. Thank you, Cissy
Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Effective communication. Helpguide.org: A Trusted Non-Profit Resource. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/effective_communication_skills.htm