Do you remember a time when you thought, no one listens to me?
Perhaps a time when you felt like you weren’t being heard by a parent, teacher, or even a friend? Many of the youth who reach out to the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) cite that lack of communication is one of the biggest issues in their families. Effective communication is an important skill for anyone to have—some may argue the most important skill.
When NRS started to develop its Let’s Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum we realized that we needed to lay a foundation surrounding the importance of these skills. We spoke with youth about what it meant to not only communicate in an effective way but also how to listen effectively. We talked with youth about what it meant to not only communicate in an effective way but also how to listen effectively.
Listening is the first skill addressed in Module 1. Communication is not only about being able to convey your message to someone but also knowing how to actively listen to another person.
Active listening is a way of listening where you focus entirely on what the other person is saying. In the first two activities of the “Let’s Talk” Module 1, we discuss the idea of what it looks like to be a good and a bad listener.
Youth get a chance to test out these skills and identify things that assist with communication as well as barriers to communication.
Think about a time when you were talking with someone and felt they weren’t listening.
How was their body language?
Did they stare at the ground the whole time or yawn while you were speaking?
These might be examples of someone displaying poor listening skills.
Environment can be another thing to consider as a barrier. It’s difficult to have a conversation in a space with a lot of distractions or noise. By identifying the difference between good and bad communication skills and practicing, it’s easier for youth to start to use effective communication in their everyday lives.
The other aspect of communication that is important for youth to practice is communicating during a crisis. This gives youth a chance to learn about the crisis intervention model that is used at the National Runaway Safeline when callers reach out to us for help.
Crisis intervention is a model of communication to help people express their feelings and then focus on developing a plan to handle their problems.
The model consists of five steps.
- Establish Rapport
- Explore Facts and Feelings
- Focus on the Main Issue
- Explore Options
- Establish a Plan of Action
Crisis prevention not only gives youth a chance to think about communicating when crisis situations happen in their own life but also how to help someone else who may be dealing with a crisis of their own.
Communication can be a difficult skill to master, no matter your age or situation. Understanding what it means to communicate effectively and getting to test those skills out, dealing with real life situations, is what “Let’s Talk” Module 1 is all about.
Not only will this help youth in their current interactions with friends and family but it is an important skill that will come in handy throughout their lives.
If you have questions or want to learn more about our “Let’s Talk” runaway prevention curriculum, email us through our website or call 1-800-RUNAWAY.