The Forgotten Literacy Skills

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Can you remember the last time you had a bad day at work, felt frustrated with a family member, were stymied in your attempts to deal with technology or heard bad news about a close friend or relative? How about the last time you heard great news? If you’re like me, those are the times you yearn to reach out to someone that can listen and help you process the experience. Once I’ve had a chance to share my good news or vent my frustrations, I feel more peaceful and usually even closer to the person who listened. There really is no replacement for human interactions via speaking and listening. Our ability to converse and connect through language, to share knowledge, experiences, and emotions, has great power.

Although technology offers additional ways to connect, the omni-present cell phone or computer often distracts or decreases communication, leaving us feeling isolated, unseen and unheard. No discussion of self-care would be complete without addressing the vital role speaking and listening plays in our every day lives, and in our ability to cope with the ups and downs of life.

Perhaps this is a good time to assess the socialization and closeness you do or do not share with others by looking at different areas of your life. Here are a few questions with some suggestions you might implement, if you feel the need for change or improvement.

Personal Life

  • Can you share intimately with a few special people?
  • Do you socialize with others on a regular basis?
  • Do you have a hobby that connects you with others?

Work Life

  • Do you feel safe and comfortable with the people in your work environment?
  • Are there opportunities to share concerns and socialize with people at work?
  • Do you have a mentor or special colleague to support you in your work?

Family Life

  • Do family members have lots of opportunities for quality conversations with one another?
  • Does anyone tend to isolate and withdraw more than they should?
  • Is there an open environment where it’s safe to discuss feelings?
  • Does anyone in the family intimidate or bully another member?
  • Do family members share fun and laughter on a regular basis?
  • Are there family traditions that are upheld through the course of the year?
  • Is there any kind of substance abuse or other problem that is not being addressed?

If any of these questions give you pause, consider how you can change the dynamics. Some situations are as simple as taking a few minutes a day to give another your undivided attention. Perhaps you need to engage in enjoyable activities together more frequently or have a family or work meeting where everyone can share feelings safely. Don’t neglect the role of outside support if you have serious concerns. Search out literature, support groups, teachers, or therapists and quickly begin to rectify communication that is breaking down.

Mental health issues are a huge problem for people today. The Covid epidemic certainly didn’t help the situation. Reports of people of all ages who are struggling, along with horrific violent news stories, underline the need for help and support. Quality literature offers knowledge and sometimes is the first step towards solving a problem. Here are a few suggestions that might just help you move in a positive direction. Search out books about active listening, family games, craft activities, reading aloud, or addiction. If you think alcoholism, drug abuse, anger issues, gambling or another serious problem is undermining the quality of your life, there is an abundance of literature available and, more importantly, support groups to help you get your life on track.

Hope this third post in the series, “Self-care Through Literacy” encourages you to take stock of ways you interact with others. Don’t let meaningful speaking and listening become forgotten skills.

About Rita K.

Educator and Certified Reading specialist
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7 Responses to The Forgotten Literacy Skills

  1. Barb Edler says:

    Fantastic advice, Rita. I am one who really enjoys talking about something that is bothering me. Finding a good listener can be difficult. I need to do better with active listening, too, so I think I’ll take your advice and look for a book or article for this. I sure wish we had had more training when I first began teaching about mindfulness. P.S. I just finished listening to The Maid. Absolutely delightful book! Kind of quirky, humorous, but touching, too.


  2. Karen Lawler says:

    All good thoughts, Rita. And well written. Hopefully this article will help others. 🙂


  3. rdicarne says:

    Rita, more than one question gave me pause. I think I have some work to do. Thanks for this thoughtful post. It certainly has me thinking!


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