June 13th, 2024

Let’s Chat: Communication in the community

By Linda Tooth on May 22, 2024.

When I talk to students about the importance of being a good communicator I show them a visual depicting the components that make up human communication. Many believe talking or being verbal is the only thing they should be concerned with.

It is so much more than that.

The following components make up human communication; perception and self-awareness, verbal messages, non-verbal messages, listening and responding, and diversity, or being able to adapt to each unique individual.

When I look out at a classroom filled with diverse students, I can tell by the non-verbal cues that many are most uncomfortable with communication and having to speak on emotions and vulnerability. For some, we have no problem with that and welcome conversation.

I recently attended a meeting where the topic of conversation was communication. The presenters were men talking about what it was like to communicate in a world where masculinity dominates everything they do.

Do they show emotion? What does their mental health look like? How can they be better dads and listeners? How do they have hard conversations with those closest to them?

The statistics on reported family and intimate partner violence in this province and country are staggering.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2022 there were more than 120,000 victims of police-reported family violence and more than117,000 victims of intimate partner violence of those aged 12 and older.

Worse yet, these numbers represent only those called to the police. The sad reality is many incidents go unreported.

Statistics Canada goes on to report that a large majority of those who are victims of intimate partner violence are girls and women. The Medicine Hat Police Service recently shared that in 2023 they responded to 1,700 calls for domestic violence. This equates to 4.6 calls per day with some being repeat calls.

As a woman who recently completed a gender studies class the literature supporting gender-based, family and intimate partner violence is overwhelming. We – not only feminists but everyone – must work toward a healthier and safer environment, not only for girls and women but also for boys and men.

Back to this meeting I attended. The seven men in attendance shared stories of their lives as children, parents and employees in today’s world. One gentleman said, “You never achieve anything by being angry.” He has lived experience to support that statement and shared it with the group.

They meet once a month and it is the hope that the numbers will grow and men will understand that by sharing stories they are on their way to being better communicators and all-around better humans.

If you would like to know more about this group, please reach out. I can put you in contact with them.

Linda Tooth is a communications instructor at Medicine Hat College

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