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Brody: Let’s get communication right

I want to talk about communication.

Why? It sounds so dry and uninteresting. However, the lack of it in a relationship, in a business, in a sermon, in a family, can lead to total misunderstanding and loss of opportunity.

The dictionary states that to communicate is to transmit information, thought or feeling so it is satisfactorily received and understood.

Where I live in assisted living, communication is vital, yet often overlooked.

Let’s get personal here.

Older people most often have trouble with change. They like consistency and a regular routine. If routines or schedules change, it throws them off.

Even worse, if an activity or an entertainment is omitted or substituted, it can upset them the rest of the day.

Here, we print out a weekly activity sheet and pass one to every resident to offset this situation. But, even then speakers cancel, exercise leaders get sick or it is simply incorrect information printed on the sheet, and bingo, residents get quite upset at the change.

So communication is very important in such a facility.

Native Americans, “got it.” This is what they practice and practice religiously.

“My Creator, give me the courage to share and the courage to listen.”

It is a Native tradition to sit in a circle and talk, to share what is in your heart.

The talking circle is also a listening circle. The talking circle allows one person to talk at a time for as long as they need to talk.

So much can be gained by listening, too. Is it a coincidence that the Creator gave us one mouth and two ears?

The power of the circle allows the heart to be shared with each other, and they believe that what they share also heals each other.

What about in relationships?

So often, life fills our time, our thoughts, our daily routines, and we get careless in what we say to our mates or to our children.

I can give you an explicit example between a mother and her daughter. The daughter is me and the mother is mine.

She was a good and loving mother and made sure we three kids were listened to and understood, that is until one Sunday afternoon when I was 11.

My parents were taking a Sunday drive, my two brothers were with friends, and I was taking a shower and then writing a book report.

Without a care in the world, I slipped off my clothes, looked down and — oh my God — blood, lots of blood!

In a panic, I showered, redressed and huddled in my bed praying my mother would come home.

When they returned, I called out to my mom. When she saw my predicament, she shut me in the bathroom and carefully passed the necessary stuff to me with instructions on how to use it all.

Shaking, I asked her if I was bleeding to death. She quietly laughed and told me to go to bed that this meant I was growing up.

Now that was communication that totally missed the need and an 11-year-old naive little girl.

Years later, when each of my three girls started growing up we danced, we celebrated and we talked intimately about what it really meant.

Looking further at the importance of good communication, let’s look at how it affects business.

We owned and operated a bakery and health food store. My husband, Gene, was a master baker and created the recipes himself.

It was vital that the workers listened intently, read instructions and recognized change in recipes. An entire line of croissants could be comprised if the baker got careless.

In another area, sensitive and knowledgeable time with the very young is so necessary because in their youth they misinterpret so quickly. So many things we might say are frightening to them. Spending time finding good books to read to them communicates to them that you love them, you want to hold them, and you give them all the time they want to look at the pictures. They feel safe that way.

Then there is romantic communication. How many of us have said the wrong thing during an argument that ended in giving the entirely wrong message?

Words hurt, and they can’t be taken back.

There are two basic rules when it comes to communication. One I just stated. To remember how powerful the spoken word is.

Secondly, we must learn to be sensitive listeners.

I don’t believe we are to be alone without a connection to other beings. There have been many studies about what old people need in their life, and the connection with others is right after basic needs. Also having a pet to love and take care of often gives them a sense of purpose.

And this last statement brings me to what I feel is the most important line of communication. I have written about the importance of purpose in our life. And feeling we have a purpose for being alive almost always involves other people and making their lives better.

We need to know how to communicate so what we say is really what we mean and feel.

We use words, so we must remember how important our thoughts are expressed through the best of our words.

That is why communication is important in all of our lives.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in The Sun for more than 25 years.