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U IS FOR UNDERSTAND    

U IS FOR UNDERSTAND

Artwork by Fisk

To conclude our series of communication toolkits, we are completing the trifecta of healthy communication with an essential component of both listening and talking: understanding. In order to have effective and healthy dialogue, an understanding of what you are saying and hearing is imperative. Listening is not listening without making a conscious effort to comprehend and retain what you are being told. Talking is not talking without making a conscious effort to understand what you are saying and why you are saying it.

How Can I Do A Better Job Understanding What I Hear?

What must primarily be acknowledged is that sometimes we don’t understand. Every individual has a unique experience with mental health that manifests in several different ways. Thus, the need for effective communication is all the more important in developing an empathetic sense of understanding; knowing that we don’t know everything, but using what we do know to the best of our abilities to support and empower others. 

Improve Your Understanding By:

  • Limiting assumptions and judgements with regards to other people’s experiences
  • Listening to understand, not to reply
  • Empathizing by considering other people’s experiences from their point of view, not your own
  • Asking questions that are free of leading or accusatory implications 

How Can I Do a Better Job Understanding What I Need To Say?

Before we can communicate in any form, we need to figure out what we need to say, and before we can figure out what we need to say, we must develop an understanding of who we are and what is important. Furthermore, before we can even begin to understand others, it is of utmost importance to understand ourselves. This is not an overnight process, nor is there a one-size-fits-all recipe, but there are tangible steps you can take towards understanding what you need to communicate

Reflect Upon Questions Such As:

  • What types of occurrences trigger an emotional response?
  • What is something that I feel like people do not understand about me?
  • What causes and mitigates stress in my life?
  • Do I feel like the people around me support me for who I really am?
  • Do I have healthy coping mechanisms for rough patches in life?

CONCLUSION

Effective communication comes back to each of these categories we just learned about. We can take these lessons and move forward to make sure we are communicating in a healthy way for ourselves and for others. 

While we don’t have to have all the right answers, simply bringing up mental health in conversation is the most important part. We often talk about our role in trying to make the world a more optimistic place. When it comes to mental health, the best way to destigmatize is to talk about it. We love and appreciate being a platform for these conversations to take place and we hope we’ve inspired you to start your own dialogue with folks in your life as well. 

Simply by sharing your story or asking others how they are doing, you are contributing to the larger movement to normalize mental health and create a more optimistic world for us all. 

With gratitude,

The Madhappy Team