The CARE Concepts
We process information through what we see and hear. It might seem that what we hear is the most important, but more than 80 percent of communication doesn’t even involve words! This is what we see and feel. The remaining 20 percent is the words we use and hear in response. The combination of what we see and hear dictates what we remember. When there is misinterpretation of what is seen and heard, a breakdown of communication takes place.
Many Strugglers’s breakdowns occur when we rely too much on talking. The result is confusion, misunderstanding, and some level of disconnection. As Strugglers try to make sense of our talking, breakdowns can escalate and frustration builds. The Struggler becomes overwhelmed and separated from the people around them. As these negative experiences repeat, Strugglers find themselves alone, as they are unable to make or keep friends or have means of asking for help. They become socially isolated.
Because our social experiences rely on communication, changing our communication style with Strugglers requires that we recognize the significance of nonverbal interactions. Things like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice are all nonverbal. Think about how we watch YouTube videos of silliness, sweetness, and learn to do new things just by watching someone else do them. Even with the sound off, the messages are intact.
You can see how we can share opinions, expectations, and joys by ways other than simply talking. We don’t necessarily need words to understand other’s opinions, expectations, displeasure, and joy. There are times we can simply look at someone and know what they are feeling. In these moments, it becomes clear how nonverbal communication can improve our interactions, especially with a Struggler. This is often evident when we consider areas of strength with our Strugglers: relationships with pets, online relationships, and even relationships with individuals who are younger or less able.
When the Struggler has difficulty relating to people around them we can adapt our own communicative behavior to help them interact more meaningfully.
What You Don't Say
Slowing down, reducing language, simplifying messages, and decreasing competing stimulation (for example, turning off the TV and moving to a place with less visual distractions) can allow Strugglers to generate their own thoughts and responses while avoiding overload.
Many Strugglers have difficulty managing the performance expectations of our verbal society. A performance expectation happens any time we “expect” someone to do something by intentionally or unintentionally putting them on the spot. Consider a time when you have been put on the sport at a work meeting: There is an unspoken expectation that you will add to the conversation. This is determined by the unspoken rules of the social situation.
Often, Strugglers become so overwhelmed by verbal information or performance expectations that they can’t begin to process the nonverbal cues. You might notice that the Struggler breaks eye contact with others by looking down or away. In other instances, the Struggler may disengage altogether by walking abruptly away.
Because they don’t know how to start or keep a conversation going, and they don’t know what to expect in return, the Struggler has little confidence in themselves, and a bit of anxiety towards those around them. Often, the Struggler rarely shares their own ideas or discuss goals or dreams.
When we recognize the Strugglers in our lives, we can start new habits of communication that lead to better understanding and inclusion.
This is where memory comes in. When we make changes in our own communication, we can help the Struggler become a more active communication partner, and ultimately, create more positive experiences and memories that are the basis for more social interactions. All of us can recall positive and negative memories: things we’d do again, and things we’d avoid. These memories drive our motivation.
Changing repeated experiences into memory requires practice. In this case, we want to repeat positive experiences that build trust. Trust is a concept that is often not paired often with communication. Trust built through positive experiences gives the Struggler a foundation for future social interactions. Trust never happens when we have negative experiences.
Consider this: You need to find something at the store and you ask the clerk. That individual rolls their eyes and rudely points to the item directly behind you. You now have had a negative experience asking for needed help. Your memory of this, may be that if you ask for help, you will be treated poorly. From then on, you internalize the belief that you should not ask for help. Likewise, when you ask and the clerk directs you to the shelf behind you, and smiles, saying “you are really close,”, you find what you need and have a more positive memory of the process of asking for help.
Through repeated opportunities to practice interactions, experiences are built into memory for later use. Naturally, you avoid situations that you anticipate ending badly, as you have learned to not trust the process or the individual in these cases—this is human nature.
How Do We Start?
Connections start with simple things, like how we greet one another. Many times, the challenge is that we talk too much. We use too much verbal language and not enough body language, intonation, gestures, and facial expressions. By reducing our “chatter” and increasing these other ways of communicating, we can connect more easily.
We are looking for natural, spontaneous, brief connections. When we have those small positive “aha” moments, we create a foundation for future positive interactions. “Just barely noticeable” challenges are the key: meaning, if you over-act, your partner might be scared off! Without these moments of success and connection, there is no motivation to try again. Consider how to say what you want without using words.
Remember the 80/20 concept of human communication?
Those of us who consider ourselves strong verbal communicators have a hard time reducing the amount of verbal communication we use. When we reduce what we say, we can highlight our nonverbal communication.
For example, try giving your communication partner the opportunity to generate a response to a message you send, without your verbal input. While this sounds simple, it is harder than you’d expect. The interesting thing, is that it is easier for the Struggler to understand.
If you replace a verbal greeting with a simple wave, smile, or nod, do you get a response? If there is no response, try moving closer. Does the recipient of the greeting recognize your message? You may be too distant for the connection to register. Continue to move closer and try again. Keep practicing until you are right next to the individual. It isn’t their eyesight that is failing them; it is the ability to sort out competing information and recognize the familiar.
These examples are simple illustrations of how we use nonverbal communication in our everyday lives. The Struggler’s responses guide us to figure out where breakdown occurs.
Keep It Going
Practice is the necessary ingredient in any learning curve. We rarely become great at any activity without continual practice. This is true in any situation: a child learning to play the violin; a gymnast perfecting a dangerous tumbling routine; an inventor persisting to create a work that is meaningful, helpful, or profitable.
No matter your specialty, it all comes down to practice, failure, change, and repeated effort to shape future success. But those attempts to keep trying require us to reflect and change along the way so that we can be more successful with each attempt.
The Communication Diet will require you to change your habits of communication. Practice must happen not just once a day, but over the course of the day, moment to moment, over a period of time. Permanent improvements and changes ONLY happen over time.
Consider what happens when you decide to create a household budget and hold yourself accountable to it, or when you commit to a weight loss or workout plan. When you see that you have lost weight, you are motivated to stick to your diet. Success only happens when we persist with small personal changes in our actions. Our success is what we see in the rearview mirror when we marvel at how our changed habits have resulted in something good.
We have helped individuals and families, bosses, teachers, parents, and professionals change their patterns of communication and interaction. They have found success and have gone on to help others become more active participants in their own lives, from achieving life skills to engaging employees in the workplace. We know what is possible, and we want to help you communicate to your personal best to help the people around you.
Like any great coach or teacher, we will ask you do to things that are seemingly simple yet really challenging. You’ll be frustrated at times will not give up. When you persist, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
Let’s get started.
The Care Program addresses every struggler and every level of struggle.
Adjusting our communication simplifies our message and communicates the invitation.
C-Curiosity 4 Motivation
Curiosity and motivation work together.
Curiosity and motivation work together. Drawn to the unfamiliar, curiosity draws us in with interest, while motivation brings the drive to investigate. As partners, they activate our daily interactions. Daily experiences that are simple and understandable, offer opportunities to learn and grow.
Silent language that is demonstrated, not spoken, offers opportunities for partners to isolate important information in meaning and message. Complex gestures, facial expressions are easily misinterpreted.
Keep it Simple!
Communication welcomes others. A smile, wave, open arms, all give a simple, direct message.
As partners, we need both silent and spoken communication to increase our understanding and connections with others.
Small changes are the most dramatic.
Life never goes as expected. What we do know, is that practice does make a difference.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Demonstration is a clear message, acted out-one small concept at a time. A demonstration speaks to us in actions and silent messages. The silence allows important information to stand out. Simple practices universally include anyone who struggles. Accommodating the struggle, we adjust our communication to welcome every ability of participation.
Capable problem solving starts small and simple.
Repeating the same message at different volumes of impatience and exasperation increases agitation and stress, making connections increasingly difficult.
Where are the most likely places you might have left your shoes, coat, or backpack, are resourced through our past experiences. Everyday experiences that are not registered or stored, turn daily experiences into chaos.
Participation is key in memory. Quiet daily practice in simple partnership is the winning combination for progress.
Keep it Simple!
New awareness acknowledges daily practice in simple and quiet variation. Over time, practice is successful with consistency and support.
Tempting, when things fall apart, to return to old habits of criticism, lecturing, and punishment.
RESIST THE TEMPTATION!
Small, simple moments, keep resistance low
As we adjust and practice new habits, simplicity reveals opportunities.
Clear, Simple Invitation
Clear connections invite participation and build history
Adjusting communication to include simple gestures, facial expressions, and sound effects makes a clear connection. Clear connections invite participation and belonging. We know that learning new concepts or skills requires practice. Where do we begin? The best place to start is simple, making practice easy and fun.
As we practice, over time, we notice something is different. Small, barely noticeable changes enhance understanding and participation. Genuine connection grows with understanding others.
In our Rear View Mirror