When Parents Lead, Children Succeed

B2W Radio - Young People's Communication Skills and the Future Workforce

B2W Radio - Young People's Communication Skills and the Future Workforce

Elane V. Scott
Rick Stephens
Featured Guest:
Joyce Muraoka

Dear Valued Stakeholder,

As part of our wide-reaching health series, this week’s Radio show guest, Joyce Muraoka, brings an important part of the health of the whole being to the fore: language. In our conversations this past month, with spoken with an administrative leader in the field, a neonatologist, a physical therapist and a pediatrician, all exemplary advocates for keeping the health environment, the brain and body sound. But what about language and expression? The ability to think of the words to say when asked or needed, the physical ability make the words with your mouth and tongue when called upon, and the emotional effects of being unable to express yourself when you want to, are what Joyce helps address in her young clients. The language component in each person’s health is directly analogous to the language component necessary to maintain a healthy community. Language, and the many different meanings a single word can have, are things we talk about often on this program—the importance of “common language”; the “power of language” to shape thoughts and drive actions. It is fundamental to the Birth2Work philosophy that “language” is more than vowels and consonants strung together and assigned meaning. Our language – the how, when, and why of our verbal exchange – defines us and reveals what is hidden from the eye. What’s in our brains and our hearts is revealed by our use of language...individually and collectively, as a nation.

When language is inhibited and/or obstructed in an individual, thoughts can’t be properly synthesized in the brain. Thoughts and speech work in tandem, and sometimes the mouth is working even faster than the brain. (Can you recall a time you said something you didn’t even know you were thinking until you heard yourself say it out loud?) Young people with speech impairments become shy and will remain silent rather than risk embarrassment. They suffer frustration as they are unable to make their needs and wants known to those around them.

Similarly, when we at Birth2Work are assessing a community for qualities of communication, we often find the citizen’s voice is either out of synch with or nearly silent toward its sector leaders (government, education, media, health, business, and community sectors). This can lead to a near total withdrawal of engaged citizens, just like with hurt children.

For children who do get help, there is almost always a qualitative as well as quantitative shift in overall behavior. Through speech therapy, an awareness and self-confidence grows along with the development of speaking skills. How that happens, Joyce explains, is from about ½ of her technical therapy and ½ from her listening to the child. As we see it, that reality is a metaphor for community stakeholder leaders - a quality stakeholder leader is as much an active listener as an active speaker. Positive, sustainable growth happens with engagement and ownership of the ideas put forth by the community. But just as a wise parent understands that a child’s early communication skills development is crucial to success in life later on; a city’s or nation’s stakeholder leaders must continuously monitor the quality and quantity of voices in their communities. The parent knows that to let a speech problem silence a child early can eventually wreak havoc on the child’s psyche and be harder to fix, if it’s even possible to, later.

Joyce Muraoka models the path of the successfully integrated, stakeholder leader. She struggled with public speaking early in her own life. Then, upon discovering speech therapy training, she went on to master what she longed to understand and eventually teach others what she first learned to improve about herself. The life of the integrated stakeholder leader is often about learning what you think you need to improve yourself, then finding out that your personal experience and understanding are what enable you to be an important teacher and leader for others to follow. Our most successful stakeholder leaders are usually great speakers. At Birth2Work, community leaders don’t just talk about making a difference, we do, every day.

Elane V. Scott

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