Practice #3: Communicating With Others
Effective partnerships are characterized by respectful, open, and accessible communication.
Respect communication differences among partners
How we see the world influences how we communicate. For example:
- Some people easily share emotions, feelings, and stories and are more open in their
communication styles; Other people take some time to warm up to everyone and are more
guarded in their communication styles.
- Some tell you "how they see it" and are direct and assertive with their communications; Others tell you in a roundabout way and are a bit more reserved and indirect with their communications.
No one way of communicating is better than any other way. They are just different. Your role is to let your partners have the space they need to communicate in the ways that are best for them. Understanding cultural differences in communication will also be important as you begin to build partnerships with different communities.
Openly communicate with partners
It is important to discuss your opinions and feelings openly and respectfully. Communicating in such a way that your partners understand the message means using oral, written, and nonverbal skills. Open communication also involves asking questions so that you can understand your partner's thoughts and needs.
Use communication techniques that are accessible to your partner
Different people prefer to send and receive communications in different ways. For example, you may prefer to text, send messages by Facebook, or email. Your community partners may prefer to talk on the phone or meet in person. As you begin working with your community partner, make it a point to talk about the communication techniques that are effective and accessible for your partner. You may need to modify your preferred communication technique to work well with your partner (e.g., meeting in person instead of texting).