Communication skills are such a big deal. Without honing these skills, we may convey things we never intended to – or leave out important pieces of information that can change everything! Poor conversational skills can potentially offend or hurt, or don’t make the sale. Excellent communication skills are one of the top job skills potential employees are looking for in new hires. Expertise in this area will contribute to your kids’ success, vocationally, and relationally. So, let’s take a minute and talk about common communication killers and how to fix them.
Not meeting someone’s gaze can communicate that you are trying to hide something, such as an agenda or information. It can also convey social awkwardness. In our culture, eye contact speaks loudly.
Recently, my husband was in a situation in a store where one of the people in line was getting loud and quarrelsome. My husband was speaking to the clerk when this person started directing belligerent comments to him. My husband stopped, turned around, and just looked at the man; did not engage verbally, just looked at him.
Now, my husband is a trained psychologist and martial artist and thus, not easily intimidated, so I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, however, this man who had been causing extreme discomfort in this public space stopped ranting. All because of someone with a calm, non-anxious presence who was willing to make eye contact.
Fix-It: Practice making eye contact with the people in your home when you are talking to them. “Look at my eyes” is a significant first step with littles. Put the phone or other tech devices aside as you converse with others. Eat meals together with no tech present and make a point of seeing and speaking with each other. The family table is a great place to gather and practice all sorts of communication skills
Often, we approach situations with the attitude that there is one right or wrong way of dealing with an issue. Instead of this type of “black and white” thinking, consider the possibilities. This is much like creating a pro-pro list instead of a pro-con list. When conflict arises, how can a win-win outcome be achieved? What would be a positive solution for everyone? Of course, sometimes people opt-out and you can’t win with them. It will take even more creative brainstorming on your part to come up with a winning scenario for both of you when the other person lacks the maturity or concern to help make it happen with you.
Fix-It: When conflict arises, pause and reflect on how you can contribute to positive outcomes for everyone. Brainstorm those “win-win” possibilities. Create a “pro-pro” chart in a problematic situation and determine how to bring about a good result.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw.
Attacking someone’s character instead of commenting on what they say or do. Be clear about what a person is doing versus who they are. Attacking someone often can mean that we don’t have empathy or compassion for them.
Fix-It: Teach your kids the difference between actions or behavior and the value of the person. Discuss the difference between what your kids “do” and their value as a person. Talk in terms of behavior. For example, you might say “You broke the dish.” or “You did not do your chores.” instead of phrases such as “You are careless.” or “You are lazy.” Help your kids name emotions and teach them to identify the feelings of others. Use phrases like “Mommy is sad that the dish was broken”, “Suzy is disappointed that the toy is lost” and ask “Are you happy that snow is falling?” Knowing how to name specific feelings is a great first step in understanding people. Understanding can lead to empathy and compassion, which leads to clear communication!
It’s easy to assume we know what someone is trying to say and interrupt or jump to conclusions. Listen to understand. Do you listen to hear someone’s heart? This goes beyond just listening to the words, but taking the time to listen to the other person’s heart.
Fix-It: Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking. Hear them through to the end of what they have to say. Respond, “So what I hear you saying is this.” Develop excellent listening skills. Maintain objectivity in the conversation. Push the pause button and take breaks as needed. Remind yourself and the other person that you are on the same team with the same objectives.
We should all display a healthy curiosity about people and what is going on in their lives. Social media teaches and enforces self-absorption. People are hungry to be known, to share what’s important to them, to have someone hear their deepest hopes, dreams, and longings- to have a friend.
Fix-It: Develop the art of questioning with curiosity. Be a student of the world and people. Learn to find out about people; discover their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs.
Being Indirect/Avoiding Difficult Conversations
No one likes to have awkward or difficult conversations. But sometimes they are inevitable. Whether it is sharing about a difficult diagnosis, confronting someone you love about unhealthy behavior or problems at work, we all tend to avoid talking about it. Avoidance can bring its own set of challenges, especially in regards to issues that have a time factor attached.
Fix-It: Practice what you want to say- write it out to get clear on what the real issue is and how you might go about solving it. Do a test run with someone who is objective. In other words, act out the potential conversation. Bring your notes with you if they bring you confidence and pause. Take breaks as needed to get perspective, calm down, and reiterate the belief that you are all on the same team, working towards the same goals.
Practice and Intention
Like all abilities, communication will improve with practice and intention. Teaching our kids how to communicate well is one of the most vital skills we can give them. That is true regardless of what job or industry they go into or whether they have a large family or stay single.
I’d love to hear how you are intentionally teaching communication skills in your family, so drop me a line here or on Instagram and Facebook.
If you want resources for teaching these types of Soft Skills in your homeschool, take a look around our website and blog. Or listen to our podcast at the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network where we focus on tips and resources for teaching soft skills and life skills for all age groups. Our podcasts, blog, e-books, and online classes can help with teaching your homeschoolers about Stewardship, Teamwork, Career Choices, and Public Speaking.
Proverbs 25:11 A Word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Museum of the Bible
We are museum go-ers, history lovers, and knowledge gather-ers. So, it was no surprise that on our recent trip to Washington, D.C., we took a day to visit the Museum of the Bible. Our group included international evangelists with Louis Palou Ministries, a Pastor of 40+ years, a Rabbi, an author and podcaster from Israel, a Psychologist, college student, high school student, and a few wives- all of whom are very involved in ministry, education, and travel. We arrived at 10 a.m and stayed until closing and could easily have come back for another day or two or three.
Visually the Museum is stunning and state of the art. It is also impeccably clean with a staff that is pleasant, welcoming, and helpful. Our group started on the main floor, checking out the Vatican Museums and Library; as we waited for everyone to gather; these are quite beautiful.
Starting at the Top
We quickly decided to start on the top floor and make our way down. Did I mention that this museum was visually stunning? Full of light and windows, wide hallways and elevators that were full of pictures of the gallery. The very ambiance of the museum was delightful!
We found ourselves in an exhibit called, “The People of the Land: History and Archology of Ancient Israel.” We watched two short movies, one on the Land of the Bible and one on the Coinage of the Ancient World. These movies were very interesting. Following the movies, we made our way through the collection, which was amazing! Ancient artifacts, clear descriptions, and clever displays held our interest for quite a while.
We went from there to the Hall of Bible Artifacts- a stunningly beautiful hall- the pictures I tried to take did not do it justice! The hall was chock full of information, videos, collections, and stories about the Bible. From there we went to one of our favorite funny historians, Drive Through History. Here we found excellent visuals, great graphics, and information-packed surroundings!
Time for Lunch!
From there, our group detoured to lunch where everyone found more than enough delicious food, including Kosher selections, to fill our bellies, and keep us going.
Stories of the Bible
Next stop, Floor 3 and Stories of the Bible. This floor included a Judean village, carefully crafted and constructed to give you a feel of what it might have been like to live in a small Judean village in the Ancient World. Again, gorgeous craftsmanship, attention to so many details, videos, plaques and a sense of peaceful serenity filled us as we wandered through houses and rooms. While the entire museum has a sense of gentle calm throughout, this particular section was particularly serene.
We watched more short, extremely well done, videos on the lives of those who lived near or with Jesus and then moved on to The Hebrew Bible Experience.
The Hebrew Bible Experience
This is a 30-minute encounter with the Hebrew Bible. You actually walk from theater to room, and down hallways, pausing midway as you find yourself surrounded or surrounding a part of the display. The Bible Experience includes engaging vignettes from the Bible, including Noah’s Ark, the Burning Bush, the Passover and more! The stories are familiar ones, but the display was ingenious, cleverly designed and included movement, audio-visual and graphics. It is one of the most inventive and ingenious museum displays I’ve ever seen.
If there hadn’t been so much more to take in, I would have gone back through a second time! It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the museum and our Rabbi friend loved it too! He’s been in education for years and his idea at the end of The Hebrew Bible Experience was to do a yearly field trip with True North Homeschool Academy students through the Museum- it is that inspiring!
The Bible in America
We left what I thought was going to be my absolute favorite part of the museum to encounter a part of the Museum that rivaled for first place- and that was The Bible in America. Keep in mind, we were a group of Bible-loving history nerds with a few languages and pet areas of study between us. This section captured our imaginations, caused us to stop and talk and even debate a bit. Again, the displays were engaging and used a little bit of video, plaques, graphics, and displays, including interactive displays that asked your opinion, caused you to question or wonder and piqued your curiosity.
From there, on to the Bible in the World and the Bible Now, including a docent-led display on Gutenberg’s printing press, alongside which was a provocative art display, including one of my personal favorite, lesser-known Bible characters, Simon of Cyrene.
From there, the group dispersed as some had evening engagements, while my husband, who has a Master’s Degree in Theology and years of serious, intellectual Bible study under his belt, went back up to the History of Bible to soak in every last minute of the outstanding displays.
It’s no wonder that the Museum of the Bible is one of the Top 10 Museums in a city full of world-class museums. There is absolutely everything to love about this Museum, that presents the most important Book of all time in ways that will cause you to consider it anew, with wonder and joy.
If you haven’t put the Museum of the Bible on your Bucket List, do it now! This is a Museum that is not to be missed, by anyone who values culture, Judeo-Culture and all things good, true and beautiful!
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