June is Effective Communication Month. This is the perfect time to talk with adolescents about how to be effective communicators. The earlier they learn and master these skills, the better prepared they will be to express their ideas and emotions and alleviate misunderstandings as they progress through school, college and in their careers.
What is effective communication?
Effective communication is the ability to communicate clearly and listen well to promote understanding and a sharing of ideas and information. Effective communication skills enable adolescents to resolve conflict peacefully, share feelings and ideas with others, and resist negative peer pressure and seek and offer help. Adolescents who are effective communicators are better able to make decisions consistent with their goals and develop healthy relationships, preparing them for the opportunities and challenges they will face in college and in the workplace.
What can we teach children about the roles involved in communication?
Practicing effective communication is not as simple as exchanging a few words. There are elements to consider as we approach a conversation: Is the communication verbal or nonverbal? Is the exchange face to face or electronic? Is the communication between two adolescents or an adolescent and an adult?
Adults and adolescents can practice the communication roles together to foster a thoughtful and productive approach to navigating today’s complex social environments.
What are the roles in communication?
The Speaker- The role of the speaker is to share, explain, and describe. What do you want to say? Why do you want to say it? How will you say it?
The Listener- The role of the listener is to learn, understand, and acknowledge.
Being an effective communicator
Adolescents with effective communication skills are prepared to ask for what they need and are more likely to reach their goals and develop strong friendships. They can enhance their social skills by learning the following best practices in effective communication:
Be an Active Listener – It’s easy to misunderstand what people are trying to communicate.
Focus on what the speaker is saying – Listen for understanding. Don’t interrupt the speaker and don’t focus on your response while the speaker is talking.
Ask clarifying questions - Paraphrasing the speaker’s message in your own words to make sure you understand what the speaker is trying to tell you.
Observe the speaker - Pay attention to nonverbal cues like tone of voice and body language.
Be an Assertive Speaker - Standing up for yourself and your ideas while respecting others is a powerful skill. Youth can be honest and forthright without coming off as too aggressive.
Stand Tall and Look the Listener in the Eye – Communicate your confidence.
Speak Up and Speak Clearly – Make sure the listener can hear you and understand what you are trying to say.
Effective communication skills are an asset at any age. Visit us online at toogoodprograms.org to learn more about how our evidence-based Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Violence-Social Perspectives curricula develop effective communication skills in children and teens to ready them to navigate their world in school and career to set them on a path to secure a prosperous future.