When we engage in service it is important that we think about not only how we communicate with those we are working with but also those who are interested in learning about the work we are doing. The way we communicate can be a source of inspiration or the root of misunderstanding. Effective communication can help you build a strong rapport with others and generate support for your work while starting a dialogue about the issues you are passionate about. While it is important that we share our experiences with others, it is vital that we do so thoughtfully, strategically and humbly.
Communication might be something we do everyday, but it is also a skill we can improve with practice. Whether you are speaking with a friend, community partner, or the media it is important to take a moment to think about what you are saying (or writing!) before you say it.
Ask Yourself the Following:
- What is the goal of my message?
- What is the intention behind my words?
- Is my point clear?
- Am I representing myself and my community well?
- Am I speaking from my own personal experience?
- Am I allowed to share this information?
- Should I share this information?
Take a look at the statements below. How do you think they would be received? How might they be interpreted? How could you edit them to make them stronger?
- I know the community I am working in needs my help. If they didn’t, more progress would have been made by now. In some ways, it is surprising that more people are not helping fix the issue of hunger, but I feel good knowing I am making a difference.
- It’s shocking how far behind the educational curve the students I tutor are. One even told me that her parents have never read her a book, which is unconscionable. It’s really hard work, but it is also important work. These kids need me to be a positive influence in their lives.
- I volunteer three times a week at a senior citizen home. I really enjoy learning from and engaging with the people I have come to know. It is so easy to fit into my schedule. Anyone who doesn’t make time for service is just making excuses.
Develop a quick pitch about your work. How would you describe your work in a few sentences? Remember to not only talk about what you do but also why it matters.