Nonverbal communication can completely change how our words are perceived, but the importance of verbal communication shouldn’t be ignored.
Talk that Influences How We Think
Seemingly insignificant words and phrases can completely change the way we see new opportunities and our potential.
In his book The Achievement Habit, Professor Bernard Roth of Stanford University cites key principles we should pass down to our students and use ourselves.
Examples include using “but” instead of “and” (e.g. “I want this internship, but I am afraid of flying” vs. “I want this internship and I am afraid of flying”) and saying “want to” instead of “have to” (e.g. “I have to take this course I don’t like” vs. “I want to take this course I don’t like”).
Roth explains that changing the words we use will actually alter the way we think about things. It’s an important lesson to teach both our students and ourselves.
Talk that Influences How Others Feel
It is important for students to learn how to influence themselves with their words, but it’s also important for them to understand how their words influence others. One way to encourage quality conversation between students and create a safe learning space is to implement the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s workshop for developing healthy dialogue.
The first chapter defines dialogue using the following comparison: “In a debate there is a winner and a loser. One person wins by putting forward a better argument, the other loses. It is intrinsically competitive and is about establishing difference. In a dialogue there are two winners. I learn from you, you learn from me. We may compromise or agree to differ. It is profoundly reciprocal, and acknowledges similarity and difference equally.”
In this diversity-filled world, teaching students how to engage in healthy dialogue is critical to their success and the success of the other kids around them.
Talk that Influences How Others Understand
Teaching students how to communicate is important, but so is effectively communicating to parents. Jim Bentley’s article, “Communicating with Parents” cites the reality that today’s parents attended school in the 20th century, which differed greatly compared to today’s teaching practices.
“Many parents expect to see nightly worksheets or a constant stream of graded papers flowing home, because that’s what they’re accustomed to from their own experiences,” writes Bentley. “But things look different in today’s blended learning and PBL classrooms.”
Helping parents understand current teaching methods will help learning extend from the classroom to home. Bentley provides a number of examples for how to do that, including an itemized list guiding parents through a standard homework revision process.
Verbal communication — spoken and written — influences how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world around us. Engaging and teaching how to verbally communicate will enhance learning in the classroom and at home.