Let’s get down and dirty.
I was recently at a talk about gathering data to show how hard people in the caring profession find it to ask for help. The very word ‘help’ seems to make a lot of us recoil. Beliefs around looking weak or thinking you’ll be judged appear to keep a lot of us silent. This seems to be endemic of the British people. Our culture is steeped in stoicism, with the slogan of Keep Calm and Carry On fuelling repression and reminding us that though we won the war, we may also have lost our capacity to talk about feeling vulnerable, if that was ever there in the first place.
‘Acey Choy’ who designed the Winner’s Triangle: a simple diagram, that changed the way I thought, talks about using our vulnerability to empower us but this feels hard to do.
So much of how we feel about ourselves is based on gender, culture, socio economics and the impact that our primary carers had on us from childhood. I believe these powerful forces can be inhabited in new ways with time and focus. It feels like there’s a hopeless inevitability about just accepting yourself or the status quo for the way things are…I feel like shouting at the next person who confirms just how awful things look politically but isn’t actually doing anything about it. I’m not talking about you, Extinction Rebellion protestors, who loudly waved the flag of activism, but more generally about a passivity that seems to have taken hold of people who don’t know how they really feel or what to think.
For me, this is about curiosity. When did we stop wanting to know more about other people? To try to understand their differences, instead of judging them or dismissing them? Why don’t we find ways of expressing our anger or fear of the unknown through looking at our own behaviour instead of passing the buck on to what is essentially self-responsibility. Our communication skills have become progressively politically corrected and mind numbingly digitalised.
I don’t believe I was ever taught at school to ask for what I truly needed; or to think about how I communicated this, without feeling like I was being demanding. I was taught to say ‘yes’ and to do what I was told. I don’t do that so much now. It’s scary and liberating. I have to be ruthlessly honest with myself and sometimes with others. I’ve lost friends and made some new ones. I’ve started to say ‘No’ more and ‘Yes’ when I want to. I can admit that I may be wrong and I choose to seek help if I need it. Sound easy? It hasn’t been, but my life and my self-esteem is all the richer for it.
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