I am so excited about our second session of Turning Towards Each Other: Communication Skills for Queer People of Color this saturday! I truly can’t wait.
When I tell people I am passionate about good communication, they often give me a puzzled look. And no, I’m not talking about PR, campaign messaging or how to spin a story in the media. I am talking about the basics: how to listen and how to share with each other. They are simple, yet life-long practices. Listening and sharing are the building blocks of our relationships, and for so many of us, our relationships equal our survival. Investing time to learn how to communicate well is crucial to our survival. It grows new worlds that cultivate interdependency and deepen connection inside of a society built upon isolation and disconnection.
The practice of listening is not just how to nod and make someone else feel like they are heard, it is actually being present with someone else with what they are sharing and being present with yourself at the same time. It is learning how to make space that includes both/all of you, not disappearing yourself to make more space for the person sharing. Just the simple act of becoming more aware of how you listen to others can be so powerful, as a first step to becoming a better listener.
In my time supporting folks in good communication, sharing has been one of the harder skills for folks to learn. Learning how to share in ways that don’t dominate or take up all the space, that invite people in, that aren’t one-word answers (or a quick shuffling of ourselves out of the way or withholding of ourselves), that are mindful and aware of the people listening, and that risk vulnerability is a skill. Learning how to share what you actually want/need to share, not what you think the other person wants to hear; or sharing 10 unnecessary things before you can get to that one thing that actually matters to you.
When I think about my work to build community-based responses to violence, I think of communication all the time. The ways we treat each other like we don’t matter or are disposable all the time, the ways we leverage disconnection as a subtle threat, the ways we don’t value ourselves, the ways we don’t practice consent. The ways we lay the groundwork for violence in the small, everyday ways we interact.
I am so grateful to have had access to these tools, which have changed my life, and joyfully offer them to folks with love and hope.
see you Saturday, love!