Last month I spoke about a lot of f^*king horses – not a usual mental image to associate with Banjo Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River!
To quickly recap: when you don’t know or haven’t learnt the rules of communication, things become difficult. For both you and the receiver of the message you are trying to communicate. And when things become difficult, we can become frustrated, angry, reluctant, defiant, defeated.
I’d like to share with you a devastatingly cute version of the ‘a lot of horses’ scenario. In this little home video, my grandson, Sage, is thoroughly determined in his quest to explain something to his dad. Daddio, a very patient and articulate man, struggles to comprehend.
From a fox in socks to eating headphones…
Along with our very best intentions, we need skills.
“What’s that? Don’t eat the headphones?”
And we need kindness.
“Sorry, I was a step behind you.”
By ‘we’, I mean both the speaker and the listener, writer and reader, human being and human being.
There are no serious consequences here in this video, and my two gorgeous boys resolve the ‘problem’. But imagine you needed to be heard and understood without knowing how to go about it? Or even without knowing that you don’t know how to go about it?
It’s possible to improve communication so that we can minimise defiance, defeat, and anger. What kind of place would this be – home, workplace, club, community, nation, world – if we were patient and kind, and persistent and willing?
Of course there’s room for mistakes and apologies and nutting things out – because these build resilience. And they are much-enhanced when they do this building with silliness and laughter! But as I say and do so believe, kind communication is a key plank by which to expand dignity, community safety, equal opportunity and fellow-feeling within our entire society. Giving skills and dignity to others enlarges and enriches us all as individuals and as community. Not doing so, diminishes us all.
Let’s not eat the headphones. Rather, let’s hang them up and truly listen to each other.
(Dr Seuss*, whose work is all about language and connection, would surely approve of this).
*Author of Fox In Socks