May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! This annual event, sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is designed “to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of ASHA members in providing life-altering treatment.” This year’s theme, Building Connections, has us thinking about all of the different ways we here at Hello are involved in that pursuit — connecting families to services, connecting new clinicians to mentors, connecting gen ed curriculum to goals, connecting students to their peers, connecting research to practice . . . the list goes on and on!
Building quality connections with colleagues is one of the most important tasks for anyone working in the schools. It is also one of the most challenging. The ability of school staff to form meaningful relationships, though, is critical to our ability to provide quality service to kids. For that reason alone, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to think about how we might improve the connections we have with our staff and our peers.
Rosan Auyeung-Chen is a Registered Clinical Counselor. Her TEDx talk (below), Building Connections: How to Be a Relationship Ninja, has some interesting things to think about in this context. Here are her key points, along with some questions that came up for me while watching:
- Know yourself and own your strengths and weaknesses – we tend only to show our good side to people when we’re first getting to know them, but strong connections come from showing our imperfections, too. How do we do this while still projecting confidence and maintaining reasonable boundaries?
- Don’t take it personally – if someone says something that feels like an attack, it might be more about them than it is about you. How can we de-center ourselves when we’re in a challenging dynamic with a team member?
- Explore the bad vibes – sometimes you’re just not going to be the best of friends with everyone, and that’s ok. But don’t stop at “I just don’t like them.” Take the time to think about what, exactly, it is that isn’t vibing. How can we figure out a way forward with people we don’t like?
- Beware of judgments and assumptions – if you find yourself using terms like right, wrong, should, or always, you might be placing barriers between yourself and the team you’re on. What sort of stories are we telling ourselves about the other person/people that might be getting in the way of a connection?
- All in the delivery – sometimes we have to have uncomfortable conversations with people on our teams, and sometimes we have to do that before we’ve had much of a chance to build up trust. How can we use “communication gift wrapping” to consider not only what needs to be said but how we should say it?
Auyeung-Chen’s thesis statement is that quality connections take time, effort, commitment, and courage. We don’t have much control over the team dynamics we find ourselves in, but we can always explore and grow our practices to better equip ourselves for whatever situation we find ourselves in. Here’s to BHSM and all of those connections we build every single day!