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As we begin the second half of 2020 with ongoing COVID-19 concerns and social unrest, it is normal to have some degree of uneasiness about the future. In dealing with this tension, I encourage each of us during the next six months and beyond to strive for individual and community wellness through healthy communication.

May each of us take a look at how well we communicate with others and consider what positive changes we can make to improve our interactions. Making even the slightest change in how we communicate verbally and nonverbally can make a difference.

The longer I serve as a chaplain, the more convinced I am that effective communication (healthy communication) contributes significantly to personal, family, organizational and community wellness. Healthy communication builds trust, addresses problems, provides clarity, enhances relationships, increases engagement, improves productivity and promotes team building. All of these benefits help reduce anxiety, stress, and personal and professional roadblocks for the individual and group, leading to a more ready and resilient force.

Since healthy communication contributes greatly to wellness, it is important to define it and point out how to exercise it in daily interactions. In short, healthy communication is when two or more persons respectfully deliver, receive and understand messages between each other. Showing respect when communicating is key. As we engage in conversations with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers during these challenging times, I offer you my top 10 ways to demonstrate respect when communicating.

Listen to learn

Listen with fresh interest

Listen with your heart

Do not interrupt

Think before speaking

Avoid hasty conclusions

Practice a calm approach

Express gratitude

Welcome feedback

Watch body language

In the end, perhaps, the best way to improve communication is by smiling more. Mother Teresa once said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

Please join me in putting on a smile as we celebrate and practice healthy communication. Together, we can all contribute to wellness.

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