All the Chrysalis Online Courses involve aspects of effective communication. Of course, there are also a number of barriers to that effective communication.
These may be external, such as the physical setting, environmental factors, or the methods of contact. Some of them will be about cultural and personal aspects for either the client or coach/therapist. There might be a need to work with a range of disabilities, or specific emotional and behavioural needs.
But one of the main barriers to effective communication must surely be a use of language.
Perhaps it’s a case where English is a second language on either side. Or it might be a strong accent or dialect. Both coach/therapist and client may be English speakers but find a huge gap in understanding between them. I also teach English as Second Language so I am particular sensitive to this area of communication.
I once listened to someone for about 10 minutes talking about his love of role-playing. My mind was both listening to him and also thinking how good gestalt creative techniques would work with this sort of situation. Then I realised he was actually talking about playing video games!
But I don’t do video games, and I had already lost the plot at that point!
I grew up in an area of the country where my mother constantly called me “mardy”. Now, some of you will know what that means…..I have lived away from that area for a very good number of years and so the word went into my passive vocabulary since no-one I came into contact with used it in any way.
And then I moved across country and suddenly almost without exception everyone I talked to described him/herself as “mardy”. I felt quite a jolt inside the first time!
Dealing with these issues in everyday conversation is one thing, but imagine if your client in session went on about being mardy? Or used other dialect words you didn’t recognise? Or even had such a strong accent that you were not really quite sure what they just said? Would you ask? Would you ignore it? Would you try and deduce it from the context?
Language matters. Be aware of your own language. Be aware of jargon. Be aware of accents, dialects, local peculiarities and specific terminology.
There are also those phrases that creep in to our language almost unconsciously. Technical, work-related, and hugely irritating to those “not in the know”. I once worked with someone who used a particular phrase probably 20+ times in each conversation. It drove me to distraction.
Recently, I have heard the phrase “going forward” so many times within one particular setting that it automatically wants me to “go backwards”! – I’m a rebel at heart! Or perhaps just mardy…..
So mind your language!