10 Ways of communicating better to young adults

Taken from Chapter 25 of ‘Youth in Society’ (Roche & Tucker 1997) a book, which given a short skim read this evening paints a not too distant picture of the lives of young people 18 years later. (nothing to do with another conservative government at all)- so its become and stayed relevant.

However, heres 10 ways of developing good communication with young people, maybe from an individual point of view and as a collective agency/organisation point of view:

  1. For both parties to be genuinely involved in the communication
  2. The importance of showing respect for each others point of view
  3. A Willingness on both sides for there to be give and take in the rhythm of the conversation – each giving way to the other & relative equality in the time.
  4. Try and remember what its like to be in a position of having little or no power. This may be what the young person is feeling, and has an effect on their ability to communicate with you.
  5. Learn the facets of communication, verbal/non verbal cues, positive body language
  6. The context is important – to maximise communication – where it happens is as if not more important as to what is said
  7. Communication is a skill, and can be improved, plan and manage communication.

And three things that have a negtive bearing on communication with young adults;

  1. When one person pursues their own agenda without taking account of the needs or requirements of another
  2. if one party is unwilling to listen to what the other has to say
  3. where one party- usually the adult- is perceived as being patronising or sarcastic by the other.

It is also important to recognise the effects of the inequalities between the generations, even more so in 2015.

Some of these are more appropriate to detached youthwork than others (ie how can it be planned) nevertheless, while not a conclusive list, its a helpful one i think for all who work with young people, if given the opportunity to work with them, communicate with them and desire to interact with them purposefully and positively.


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