Do You Communicate Clearly? Consider This...
By Patricia Smith-Pierce, Ph.D.

You communicate with dozens of people every day. You communicate verbally and in writing, to parents, children, and co-workers. While you may already be a great communicator, consider this…

Do You Use Clear, Concise Messages?
Consider what happened to a center in a neighboring community. The center serves a community of approximately 75,000 people and competes with a number of other providers. The center is unique in that it is the only one that has Spanish-speaking teaches in a largely Hispanic area. However, few people knew this. The fact that teachers spoke Spanish was buried in the back of a long brochure in a list of 12 benefits.

If you have something to communicate, be clear and concise! If what you have to communicate is important, don't cover it with unimportant information.

Do You Use Jargon-Free Language?
Consider what happened when Mrs. Smith was looking for a child care center for he son. Mrs. Smith called a number of centers both near her home and close to where she worked. The more people she spoke with, the more confused she became. One director asked Mrs. Smith what special needs her child might have. While the director was referring to special needs such as attention deficit disorder, Mrs. Smith thought that the director meant something else. Another director said that her center was licensed by the State of Illinois. Mrs. Smith, unfortunately, had no idea what that meant to the care of her son.

Don't assume that people understand terminology specific to the child care field. Whenever you use a term specific to child care, offer an explanation.

What Does Your Non-Verbal Communication Say?
Consider what happened when Charlie's mom came to pick him up one afternoon. Charlie's mom wanted to discuss with his teacher her concerns about Charlie's reluctance to come to the center during the past week. When the teacher approached Charlie's mom with a frown on her face due to a headache, the teacher began the exchange on a negative note. Unconsciously the teacher was putting Charlie's mom on the defensive—and made her angry.

Unfortunately, the non-verbal messages we send are often not what we intend. Being aware of the non-verbal messages we send is the first step. The second step is to make the necessary adjustments so that we intend to say is the actual message we send, no matter how tired we are or how late it is in the day.

The next time you're speaking with or writing to someone, consider these tips. They're sure to improve how well others understand you and their impression of you as an early childhood professional.

Patricia Smith-Pierce, Ph.D., is the founder and President of Power Speaking Consultants, a communications consulting and training firm headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois.