When Duncan was a toddler, and I’d successfully breastfed two babies, I was asked to train as a breastfeeding counsellor. I wondered what counselling would be like, and this is what I imagined…
A mother phones me. She tells me her problem. I dip into my wealth of breastfeeding information and soon the problem is fixed. The mother thanks me profusely. I put the phone down, feeling very satisfied. One problem solved. Easy!
Now there are quite a few potential breastfeeding problems. I was aware I’d need to gain a lot of breastfeeding knowledge. But once I knew the ins and outs of how breastfeeding works and what could possibly go wrong, I thought I’d be all prepared to take my place in the world as a counsellor.
Therefore I had a big surprise when I found out that learning lots of breastfeeding facts is only part of the training of a counsellor. All the knowledge in the world is useless if a counsellor doesn’t impart it to a mother in such a way that the mother feels understood and accepted and in control of her situation. In other words, a counsellor has to have good communication skills.
It wasn’t long before I realised my communications skills were very poor indeed. Not only were they inadequate for counselling, they were also not up to scratch as far as my personal relationships went. No wonder I got myself into lots of arguments and misunderstandings! I began to wonder… Why aren’t we all taught communication skills as we are growing up?
It seems to me that communication skills are equally as important as numeracy and literacy skills. They are an essential skill. Think of all the people we will communicate with over a lifetime. If we were better at talking and listening to each other, if we could show each other more empathy, and if we thought more about our use of language when trying to help or correct each other, wouldn’t we all be a lot happier? Our families would be more peaceful. In fact the whole world would be a better place.
My communication skills improved enormously after I completed my breastfeeding training. (If they hadn’t, I don’t suppose anyone would have let me go anywhere near a mother in need.) But I know they could still be a whole lot better. (It is so easy to slip back into old habits.) So I have been thinking about working on my skills. I also want to teach my children how to communicate effectively. I wonder if anyone else is interested in this topic. If so, we could talk communication skills here on my blog.
This post isn't really about breastfeeding counselling, but rather about how we relate to our spouses, our children, our friends, those who need our help, those who disagree with us, those we must correct… This could be a perfect topic for Lent.
I did that counselling course years ago, so I have probably forgotten many of the details. But that doesn’t matter as I don’t want to write as an expert. This is what I have in mind… I could start us off by sharing my experiences and then hopefully, you’ll stop by and share your own ideas. It might be very interesting. And if we put all our ideas into practice, something exciting may happen.
I thought we could discuss communication skills over a series of posts. A series? I’ve never done one of these before. I guess it could be a very short series if no one responds!
So will you join me? Are you willing to stop and share your own ideas? Shall we begin a communications conversation? Or should I write about something else?
Apparently, these sheep are communicating. I wonder what they're saying to each other.