We can smell Fall (and bacon) in the air on this crisp September morning as we enjoy a pancake breakfast at Grange Hall #15. A benefit for my sister’s volunteer fire department, and we are attending with our sons. After sitting for just so long, our 15-month-old kids want to squirm away from the confines of the table. I glance at my son’s sticky face and use American Sign Language (ASL) to sign (as well as speak), “Are you finished …or do you want more?” He shakes his head, “No”, like many typical toddlers and I laugh, “Ok!” We are finished.
I use a handful of baby wipes to chase drips of syrup down sticky baby arms and legs, when a fellow breakfast guest approaches our table. She politely inquires, “I’m sorry to eavesdrop, but I ‘read’ your conversation from across the room. … Is your son hearing impaired?” I kindly reply, “No, he is not, but we use ASL as a strategy to talk/communicate.” At 8 months old, we began signing in addition to using spoken words. Since children this age often struggle with verbal skills (think ‘Terrible Twos and tantrums’), ASL allows communication without spoken language. Now we sign; ‘more, eat, no, yes, cat, dog, bird, book/read, sleep, bath and I love you’ regularly.
Our new friend finds this practice intriguing. She shares that she knows ASL because her sister is deaf, although she is not hearing impaired. She learned ASL alongside her sister when they were very young. While we pack, we reflect on how a small interaction between a mother and child has sparked our thoughtful and pleasant conversation. The act of signing and communication, without barriers; in an open and boisterous gathering space, spurred the connection of two strangers.
Why do communication failures occur in our workplaces? Perhaps for a multitude of reasons. It’s not typically one strategy or means that fails. Stephanie Watson shares a quick overview in her article ‘10 Tips for Effective Workplace Communication.’ However, at the end of the day, it may simply be patience and respect of others that supports and fosters effective communication. Both at work and at home.
So how do you connect and share information in an effective and agreeable manner? Share your ideas in the comment box below.
Nikki Pierce, CDFA, LEED AP BD+C, currently serves as the SDA National Vice President.
She is the Administrative Manager for Clark Nexsen in Charlotte, NC.