You may be reading this thinking ‘I’ve got this, I know how I use language and how to use it to support others too” But… when was the last time you really thought about how you use language? And is how you perceive your own use of language actually how others perceive it? Prior to attending the “Language of Safety” presented by Di Margetts and Bronwyn Clee, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of how to use language to support others. And it was solid enough for me to be able to do that, however this workshop reinforced just how much more there is to learn and ways to use it even more effectively to support others.
Every behaviour has an effect. It can evoke a huge range of emotions and have many impacts on ourselves, others and everything around us- including self image. Language can be this behaviour, reflect it, reinforce or contradict it. We constantly use language- with words, our body language, writing and art- the list goes on- and is something that so many of us just don’t think about- children and adults alike!
It’s something we don’t always stop and think about- often until someone gives us a reaction that makes us check back in on what we said or did.
The power of words is immeasurable!
Di Margetts developed the “Language of Safety” as part of Protective Behaviours and has given us a framework to reflect on our language, and to build our own language skills to better support others and ourselves. I recently attended this day course with Di Margetts and Bronwyn Clee from Protective Behaviours International who shared with us this framework and their insights. Di describes “the Language of Safety” as the ‘glue’ that holds the Protective Behaviours process together. Within this framework she highlights Quality of Language (is my language victimising, racist, or putting others down?), Shared Meaning (do we both have the same understanding of words and our body language?), Clarity and Ownership (do you really mean what you say/do? Are you assuming that’s how others are feeling). Seems simple right? Well putting it into place takes time, it can be a huge shift in thinking!
There is also an element of empathy with this (though I don’t feel that word quite describes it) to understand the effects of language. Taking a step into others shoes can help us see the impacts of our own and others language. How does what others say impact how you feel? And ultimately, how you might react? Language can define us, can break us but it can also build and support us so we need to make sure we are using it in a positive way to support others.
So how can we make changes and use this language?
- Language needs to be internal. It is something within us, that makes us, that represents us and allows us to interact with everyone and thing around us. That is one of the biggest points that this day reinforced for me- you can learn all you like but unless you believe it, and hold it within yourself, applying it to your own life and experience- it is simply just another tool for your toolbox, but one you will likely never be able to explain or use as you yourself do not understand its power.
- Reflect on your own use of language in different situations, is there a way for you to use this even more effectively?
- To build rapport and trust with those we work with, live with, our family, friends, and people who come into our lives.
- To use this relationship to support ‘just right’ challenges to continue to grow towards reaching other’s goals.
- This can be a tool to analyse situations- to work out the role language has played in a situation, for both interactions with those we work with, and situations others may have experienced and need support to work through. For example: What was the disagreement about? And which of the 4 subcategories might have played a part? Was it that they interpreted your body language in a different way to what you intended? Or was it that you didn’t pick up on how they were really feeling?
- Even one thing of one of the four categories doesn’t align between the parties in the relationship, it can lead to conflict and misunderstanding. If this is left unchecked, it could have a huge impact on the relationship
How do you use language? Is what you say (verbally and body language) is a true reflection of what you feel, and believe? And how can you use this to better support those in your life?