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Building Community Through Better Relationships

Sick and Tired (Of Being Sick and Tired)

Two drivers on their morning commute in an urban area get too close for comfort. One yells an obscenity. The other chooses to express his response in sign language. They both perfectly understood the other’s perspective and continue to their destinations. For decades working Americans have wanted less stressful commutes to work. The trauma results from traffic, short tempered drivers, too many old drivers, too many new drivers, or just because it is Monday. Urban traffic has stretched bad attitudes and shrank tempers on drivers’ daily travels to employment for a long time. But, in the last year Covid 19 has seemingly invaded every aspect of American lives, including what used to be the workplace commute. The virus’ reach has impacted so many aspects of American’s daily existence, that people simply accept that they are now “Sick and Tired, Of Being Sick and Tired”.

Zoom Fatigue

As Covid 19 expanded its influence on the American workplace, physical work locations became more problematic and virtual meetings replaced them. Connecting with colleagues and customers from the comfort of home sounded great in theory, until workers realized that they nearly never left home, nor family members for that matter. Simply, focusing on communicating via screen created new problems. Workers soon became eager to replace work – life balance with work-life separation. If being “on” for your boss for eight hours was bad, being “on” for family members of assorted ages and background was worse. “Zoom fatigue” quickly became the popular term to describe being accessible via audio-visual communication without ceasing.

Fundamentally, fatigue is no joke. Where once fatigue resulted from physical exhaustion, intense exertion, or mental weariness, now staring at screens incessantly has become mind-numbingly exhausting. Only seeing people from their mid-torso and up results in greater annoyance. From a Social Emotional Learning perspective, people at work encounter more irritability and greater fatigue because now the technology seems to monitor individuals, as opposed to supervisors managing groups. People are not just concerned about getting caught slacking, they are concerned that a technological record of the slacking is now available at all times. The perceived additional scrutiny results in increased trauma. Ultimately, workers are wearing down emotionally because they continuously carry psychological burdens with fewer resources to support them.

Quarantine Fatigue

In the event that Zoom Fatigue did not social-emotionally wear people into the ground, then Quarantine Fatigue emerged as the second punch in the arsenal of corporate boxing. Quarantine fatigue was the next attack on unsuspecting citizens. As the Covid 19 pandemic ebbed, flowed, then surged, people were being required to adhere to Stay-At-Home orders. The result was that people who co-habitated could no longer escape. At its core, Quarantine Fatigue results from too much closeness overpowering individuals’ coping skills. Quarantine Fatigue is not the need to distance from others in your proximity, it is the inability to manage the trauma of being around them at all times! At the core, is the resultant fatigue a byproduct of never escaping the tools that people use for commuting and communicating, or is it the technology evolving to the point it channels our human bitterness more efficiently than people can personal space and comfort?

Essentially Quarantine Fatigue is the tiredness that results from being detached from others. The human experience features the ability to connect with other people, preferably in a multi-sensory fashion. Voice conversations are good. Being able to interpret body language in addition to verbal expression is much better! Positive connectivity resulting from multi-sensory contact invigorates people. The invigorated activity leads to productivity. When Quarantine Fatigue urges people to engage less, the associated energy required for productivity decreases along with it. Even introverts, who stereotypically prefer to be alone, in reality desire some connectivity. Often, their connectivity is strategically in moderation.

Conclusion

Being sick and tired of being sick and tired eventually diminishes productivity. The human experience is not really complicated. For desired outcomes, positively engage people visibly, verbally and emotionally. Personal energy increases productivity. Zoom communication is more effective than a phone call, yet still less optimal than personal interaction. Performing in a quarantined environment works well in the short-run. However, denying emotional connectivity ultimately results in sub-optimal performance. Nevertheless, deliberately maximizing the energy that any functional individual can produce can lead to extraordinary results. Minimize Zoom fatigue by visually experiencing the rest of the world through a window, with a pet or via one-on-one conversations. Multi-sensory exchanges make a positive difference. Acknowledge the rest of the world. The purpose is to experience life beyond the social emotional limitations of a stifling work environment. Then, get back to work! Maximizing your productivity is still good for your personal well-being and ongoing employment.

By Glenn W Hunter

Board Chair, Touchstone Youth Resources Serices. For more information or to contribute, please go to www.TYRS.org

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perseverance is Power, Knowledge Steers

The old saying states that “Knowledge is Power’. However, in our constantly changing world even knowledge’s role evolves. “Perseverance is power!” Effective immediately, knowledge has assumed a diminished role! To create momentum and ultimately progress, the ability to continue performing results in value, influence and growth. Knowledge still has a meaningful purpose. Its purpose is to ensure that mental energy and information grows in a positive direction. Knowledge steers this incredible, positive force!

Knowledge 

American school systems provide 13 years of education in a typical K-12 system. Skills like reading, writing and arithmetic represent the classic tools that students receive. These skills remain a baseline, but the ability to grow those skills, integrate new skills, and synthesize deeper thinking eventually facilitate more powerful outcomes. The challenge is that these additional skills are not successfully emphasized nor distributed across the American cultural spectrum. More knowledge is undoubtedly good. Still, too many young people learned basic skills and declared that they have sufficiently learned. Whether no one corrected this common misconception, or the youth were ill-equipped to grasp the requirements of their education, they were wrong. Subsequently, the ability to facilitate learning growth through additional empowerment became a benefit directly related to additional privilege. The less privileged students across the spectrum neglected to continue expanding their learning at a comparable pace.

Perseverance

However, for those students that were coerced, incented, or privileged enough to pursue learning with rigor acquired more advantages than just more information. The additional knowledge bestowed a certain amount of direction. Furthermore, the lessons from perseverance imputed incremental benefits of confidence and power. Additional knowledge did not simply mean more information. When combined with perseverance the ability to synthesize and grow their intellectual foundation resulted in new experiences. Furthermore, it manifested a larger worldview. An urban elementary school kid with good grades may leverage his ability to advance learning within his community. Meanwhile a stereotypical suburban youth with the same prowess has a path for additional learning in other communities, perhaps through specialized programs, or by international exposure. In both cases, the knowledge steered them out of their immediate environment. The order of magnitude varied! Knowledge with perseverance opens windows and doors for advancement where less privileged opportunities merely take their knowledge to another closed off room.

Conclusion

Ultimately, knowledge is dynamic. For learners of all categories to benefit from assorted educational opportunities, incremental lessons need to be accompanied by encouragement and accolades. The victory is not the best grade today. True victory is the opportunity to benefit more from increased competition. Who really wants to be the smartest sixth grader in their school, when the rest of the world presents so many more opportunities for growth? Perseverance in gaining more knowledge is the power that truly makes the difference. For curious learners, doubling down on perseverance requires being surrounded by better minds, as well as better information. Individuals who want more, will find more, do more, then apply more! Next, they repeat! Knowledge has its advantages. It steers toward unimagined value. Yet, perseverance provides power to exceed the wildest ambitions!

By Glenn W. Hunter

Board Chairman, Touchstone Youth Resource Services

Learn more about social emotional learning, or to donate go to TYRS.org

December 31, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Normal, New Dysfunction

Somewhere in America, from a freshly redecorated home office, an employee communicates with a multi-tasking boss overseeing multiple employees under her watch, and her children who cannot be fired! With evolving telecommunication technology, remote workers can create visual facades and silence background family arguments in order to demonstrate professionalism. Parents have threatened children and placated customers simultaneously since the hold button first entered the workforce decades ago. The New Normal’s challenge is that these two important responsibilities now intersect because a pandemic has caused domestic and professional roles to collide shamelessly in the same physical space. 

NEW NORMAL

Regardless of the environment, workers must find a way to get along. Despite numerous concerns of technological disruption within our work world, a physical virus completely disrupts how workplaces operate. A familiar refrain delivers a stark reminder of the new reality: “The virus is in the driver’s seat.” Consequently, the workplace continues to evolve, largely as a result of a microscopic adversary. Physical distancing is now a counter-intuitive, yet important, component of human interaction. Nevertheless, functional human connectivity remains essential to most job performance. So, what coping skills are necessary to influence and impact this new reality where people yearn to connect, just not closely?

A paradoxical, yet important, part of workplace interaction, as well as school environments, recognizes that maximum productivity involves both communal and individual performance. Successful people functionally cooperate! In virtual environments, individual performance appears to be easier considering that most likely workers are in an environment without interrupting colleagues. Nevertheless, too often personal lives collide with the reality that multi-generational families are confined to one dwelling unit. Less traffic may be in the environment, but more people, including students and the elderly occupy that space. Sometimes, families benefit from the availability of extra contributors for academic and professional purposes. However, virtual work’s urgency creates ongoing pressure that the next family emergency or outburst can put undeniable strain on the primary breadwinner’s professionalism. 

NEW DYSFUNCTION

Vulnerability to concurrently combining professional and personal responsibilities are hard enough when priorities across generations can erupt at any time. But, the vulnerability has new, heightened urgency when it involves colleagues peeking into your home life. Regardless of the workstation and the work-life balance that a diligent worker displays in their presentation, inevitably, a personally improper conversation will be overheard, or an indiscrete family member will wander too close to the lens during a video conference.

Furthermore, realize that the video lens goes both ways. What are the consequences of a team leader revealing human indiscretions within their household, or personal space? Realistically, Vice-Presidents have family members of all ages in their household that may not care about discretion, too. From a social emotional perspective, an untimely revelation can lead to shame and lack of confidence. Some personal weaknesses should not be exposed. Subsequent judgment of underlings may also compromise a leader’s authority and performance. To combat effectively these threats in a practical sense, employees of assorted ranks need to acknowledge the potential of family-based indiscretions disrupting professional interactions. Proactively, embrace the power of empathy!

CONCLUSION

New Normal still means dealing with people. If colleagues are incompatible they are not going to like each other more because one set of kids has more trophies. In the event that best buds are involved, they are not going to like each other less because one has a child that is an emotional wreck and now everyone has seen it. Most importantly, virtual employees, like live employees, have a job to do! Then, stakes elevate upon realizing that jobs are not necessarily easy to keep. Nor, are they necessarily easy to find. Ultimately, workers in this environment have to confront dysfunction, anxiety, and uncertainty. Manage situations with empathy. Regardless of age, developing coping skills leads to more functional performance. Empathy makes the insanity more bearable. Listening becomes an empowering tool. Such positive examples travel well whether employees are in their house, or the downtown office. Better performance happens when people cooperate and collaborate. Teamwork makes the dream work!

By Glenn W Hunter

Chair, Board of Directors, Touchstone Youth Resource Services
Learn more about social emotional learning, or to donate go to TYRS.org

December 24, 2020 Posted by | Better Business, Better Communication, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Communication Using Compassion or Engagement?

Why do so many people talk and relatively few communicate? Verbal communication is relatively straightforward. A person speaks. Another person listens. Optimally, they are using the same language. But, even without a common language, grunts, expression and gestures can often carry the point. Still, what happens when essential communication is required? What occurs when a point must truly be made?

Urgency suggests two communication approaches emerge: Compassion and Engagement. Although many approaches are available, these two work well because they involve the emotional connection that best serves effective communication. If an idea is being communicated, then the associated emotion contributes to context.

Compassion

Communication with a sense of compassion reinforces the emotional component that facilitates transferring ideas. Compassion is best described as experiencing with your heart, as well as your ears. In return, the other party has the option of continuing the conversation with an emotional foundation. Feelings matter! The advantage through this verbal mechanism is creating support for an idea, a sentiment, or participation.

The advantage of sharing feelings in conjunction with the knowledge or point is that the emotion reinforces understanding. An infant demonstrates this point through various levels of crying: whimpering and wailing communicate very different messages. Additionally, school- aged children show this point as they respond to instruction. Children respond to praise and punishment based on the teacher’s attitude in delivering these responses. Is the teacher joyful in giving praise or treating it like an obligation? A child can tell the difference. Obedience by obligation is never genuine.

Engagement

Another facet of the communication jewel is engagement. In engagement the transceiver and recipient are bound in mutual benefit. Engagement goes beyond an emotional connection and can transcend into an intellectual connection. Engagement occurs best when the communication clearly involves vocabulary, voice inflection, and visual cues. Multiple senses and channels are involved in transferring information to maximize communication.

Engagement equally emphasizes the speaker and listener. Engagement features listening with ears, eyes and heart. Engagement is established with the intent of being understood and the expectation of sincere response. Engagement’s power resides in the expectation and establishment of a meaningful dialogue. Returning to learning environments, engagement comes equipped with the expectation of understanding, in addition to facilitating more communication to ensure better understanding. Engagement maximizes understanding by establishing the framework at the beginning.

Conclusion

These nuanced communication techniques are essential in elevating intellectual and emotional comprehension. Creating an environment where more understanding occurs enhances the learning environment, as well as inspires additional learning. The joy of learning is not a student’s transition to better English skills. The joy of learning is transcending to the point that an appetite for more knowledge emerges. Fundamentally, communicating with engagement elevates the joy of intellectual growth. Engagement inspires growth and cognitive development between teachers and listeners. Essentially, engagement facilitates educating more broadly and inclusively. Consequently, we all grow.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services

To learn more about social emotional learning, or donate go to TYRS.org

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Same Trauma, Next Generation

Hispanic father and daughter

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Unknown. Trauma behaves similarly. People embrace fears “that just ain’t so”, yet have just enough truth to be believable. The challenge is that fear often overpowers the ability to discover truth. Under those circumstances, trauma can then spread. Fear can then overpower facts. Once a set of facts are associated with a specific outcome, people will go out of their way to protect and perpetuate that misguided truth. Trauma explains why an adult survives an auto accident, then never drives again. Generationally, that mindset can extend fear into that adult’s children. Are fears stop lights or beacons? The answer lives in the individual’s relationship with trauma.

 

Coping Skills

To move beyond debilitating trauma, the person has to acknowledge the obstacle. An important part of coping skills is recognition that an issue exists that requires management.Successful management depends on persistence as much as proper techniques. For a child to overcome a fear of reading in front of the class, the remedy involves confidently practicing reading as opposed to reminding them that “a” represents the sound in “apple”. To reinforce the point, a willingness to release old ideas in favor of new ones empowers a child to learn new materials while releasing old fears.

 

Applying coping skills to new challenges results in better behaviors. Overcoming old beliefs requires releasing them. As young and old people develop, releasing former beliefs to make room for new and improved ones is essential. Wounds heal. New experiences displace old fears. People, regardless of age, who are receptive to accepting new experiences are taking steps toward embracing a new and improved reality. Exercising the courage to displace fear with activity is essential to coping with new challenges and celebrating new achievements.

 

Family Curses

Unfortunately, one of the primary reasons that old fears overtake new possibilities is the traditions and mores embedded in families. Each family, or any other group, has both acceptable and unacceptable practices. These practices evolve over time based on stories and experiences that are passed down. This phenomenon is true across cultures and time. The problem occurs when lessons from stories and traditions no longer reflect reality. For example, a parent insists that a teenager cannot go to college because the teen’s grandfather took a college class decades ago and was badly injured in a campus riot.

 

The events coincide, they do not reflect causation. In this case, the curse is internal ignorance, not external evil. Information and awareness can minimize the likelihood of repeating the tragic event. Too often, updated information is rejected in the name of preserving tradition. While traditions have their place, environments to establish progressive thinking is not necessarily one of them. In managing family trauma, embracing new possibilities with other people who can articulate positive outcomes provides a healthier growth outcome. Removing the sting from curses with better preparation and education, provides a pathway to progress.

 

Conclusion

Fundamentally, progress emerges when old baggage is discarded. Trauma does not have to move from one generation to the next. Learning facilitates new experiences. New experiences can introduce more progressive ideas. Trauma can be overcome with better information with regards to fears, outdated beliefs, and growth opportunities. Fears can be flushed out of the shadows with enlightenment and truth. When the stove top is on, it is hot. Staying out of the kitchen in fear keeps you from getting burned. It also keeps you from eating. Reverse the curse. Embrace new ideas. Enter the kitchen. Use a mitten. Wait for the food to cool before eating. Enjoy a better experience.

 

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services

To learn more about social emotional learning (and even donate) go to TYRS.org

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Quarantine Fifteen

Lion Cub Mirror

During a scorching California summer featuring pandemics and quarantines, I decided to wash my 20-something daughter’s car. After sitting in a desert driveway for weeks with nowhere to go, her vehicle had finally accumulated enough dust. Nevertheless, even good deeds must abide by edicts, rules and protocols. “Thou must not touch the radio in her car.” is one such edict! As I listened to music that I had never heard before, and commercials for products that I did not know existed, some 20-something on the radio mentioned the “Quarantine Fifteen”. I quickly peeked at my stomach that was uncomfortably close to the steering wheel and knew exactly what that 20-something meant.

Quarantine
I felt shamed. I felt alone. It had nothing to do with me driving in a car by myself. I had just been outed by an unseen voice who knew my loneliness and had imposed body shaming on me. How did he know? In reality, the voice was a recording and I had already internalized some trauma regarding my weight. The loneliness of the quarantine made me vulnerable. Conforming to the Covid 19 pandemic’s authority, I physically and emotionally retreated. Snacks were my refuge. I retreated behind groupthink so not to spread the virus. No one cared. Unfortunately, more of me had become available to be alone.

But, aloneness and loneliness are choices. The recorded radio voice really did not know me. Physical distancing was designed to minimize human-to-human contact which could decelerate spreading the virus. But, engagement remains alive and well. The “Quarantine” exposed that I was susceptible to messages that did not reflect my reality. The “Quarantine Fifteen” shamed me to accept that consequences exist for being alone. Equally true, it can be a call that self-care demands to be a priority. Not just cleaning the car, but cleaning my esteem, health and personal appearance is still a priority. Positive results are available.

Fifteen
The “Fifteen” simply indicates a number rhyming with quarantine. Nevertheless, body shaming is real. The commercial wants you to see the world through their lens. Individually, we each can determine the lens in which we see the world. Fifteen pounds is too much because someone with a microphone, that you will never meet, said so? The truth is that an individual has the authority to dictate their own perception. A Fifty and Fabulous grandmother has as much authority over self-esteem as a teenager dragging around the Quarantine Fifteen. Realize that Grandma is having a much better time.

Likewise, Dad washing the car is performing an act that brings joy. It may not be as much fun as being Fifty and Fabulous. But, it beats the heck out of hiding in the living room waiting for the quarantine to be lifted believing that the extra 15 pounds will leave the house first. The fifteen is not the problem. The attitude is the problem. Personal uplift results from identifying the point of pain and remedying it. Soap and water coming out of a wand solves the problem of the dirty car. Proclaiming “Today I am going to do one thing to be a better me.”, promotes improving your personal identity.

Conclusion
“Be True To Who You Are!” Whether you choose to reveal yourself as you are today, or intend to be in two weeks, perform consistent with your chosen reality. Kind people need to go ahead and perform a kind act for someone else. If loneliness in a pandemic has you down, find individuals that you like and trust both personally and health-wise so that you can arrange to engage each other. No one is absolutely sure what the New Normal will look like. Nevertheless, being true to who you are, and showing kindness will probably be an important part of your successful plan.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chairman,Touchstone Youth Resource Service
www.TYRS.org

July 19, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Viral Boundaries, New Behaviors

woman wearing black face mask

Photo by Zulurid on Pexels.com

 

Children now stay at home from school, highways overnight became abnormally empty, and adults dramatically changed work options. American society is experiencing severe shocks to its normal course of operation! Particularly changes in routines that our youth must endure has caused dramatic shocks to society’s normal flow. This disruption has created many unexpected consequences that extend beyond a uniquely violent strain of the flu. Besides wearing masks publicly, handshakes, bro’ hugs, and gentle squeezes between genders are endangered gestures. Personal space is now sacred. Who even heard the term social distancing before this insanity began?

 

VIRAL BOUNDARIES
As American society endures its latest pandemic, individuals must learn the unique terms of engagement for this latest illness, while acquaintances, friends, and loved ones are dying. The body count has become part of the news cycle. And through it all, both young and old are clueless regarding next steps for the behaviors that will permit our species and society to continue. The boundaries are determined by a virus that we cannot see, hear, feel, or smell. Nevertheless, once it impacts anyone, all doubt is removed that it is present.

While adults struggle to figure out society’s new normal, our youth are baffled.Yet, as youth has done across the ages, they make up rules as they go along. Presently, six feet represents the benchmark for physical distancing. But, how well is a five-foot tall grade schooler equipped to measure that distance? Beyond the physical boundaries, emotional boundaries are impacted. Hugs can result in severe illness. Job losses disrupt harmony at home. Friends of all ages are viewed with suspicion because everyone is absolutely clueless regarding what contact any given friend has had with other acquaintances and family members. Plus, it only takes one innocent contact to circulate a mind-numbingly painful and contagious illness. Frustration in every household begins when the first alarm clock rings. Then, it escalates!

NEW BEHAVIORS
So, new sets of behaviors are required. Except that old behaviors have not been properly displaced. Alcoholism that has been routinely in the family unit, now must stare down a quarantine. The new reality features a casual drinker in the house who typically has a daily drink or two to take off the edge. Except, the new reality leads to abuse because the edge never leaves! Elsewhere, friends are sick or scared, so socializing is minimized. Even, close family members are contagious and cautious such that everyone at home is justifiably paranoid. Once social outlets have closed, then domestic abuse surfaces as a convenient option for frustration. Unsurprisingly, the next generation follows suit. Consequently, substance abuse, and its BFF, domestic violence, now run rampant throughout our communities’ new reality. Data confirms this.

With fear, violence, and uncertainty taking up permanent residence in every corner of our community, destructive cycles perpetuate. Dysfunction literally goes viral, as children have no escape. Their schools are closed. This means, social outlets are closed. Their physical outlets are closed. And, far too often, recreational options are closed. New behaviors are driven by fear, hunger, uncertainty, separation, and physical loneliness. How do our youth cope? How do our youth connect? How do our youth manage the unprecedented rush of emotions that floods every corner of their existence? Who is in charge? Who knows what to do?

TAKEAWAYS
Ironically, the solution resides exactly where the problem began to gain significant momentum. Unfortunately, the solution is back in the belly of the beast. Community is the answer! In this case community means convenient resources and relationships that are trustworthy. Community means guidance from trusted authority figures to help youth navigate these uncharted pathways. Community requires instruction from multiple sources that at least include, law enforcement, healthcare, education, and local government. Unfortunately, any moral breakdown from any of these social pillars will only escalate the destruction of public confidence or progress. Currently, boundaries are established by a viral enemy that has the ability to take what we hold dearest. Consequently, communal efforts that align with common behaviors over time will save society. Either trust the authorities to guide communities within proper boundaries to return to safety or risk anarchy.Accept conventional behaviors that benefit the masses, even at the risk of the individual. Or, descend quickly to social and physical depths featuring yet unseen horrors and destruction. Let’s choose each other. Be Safe! Good luck.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose Community Wants 3 Cs?

Father-Son-Talk-Truth

In Kansas City, years ago a young, urban preacher, barked a bold and abrasive interpretation of biblical passage which caused many worshippers to bristle. Then, to emphasize the rough edge that the passage indicated, he challenged his allegedly more polished congregation by proclaiming, “I can say that… y’all don’t know all my previous addresses!” As the laughter subsided, it successfully raised a key point. What community does he truly represent? Community can often refer to neighborhoods, ethnic groupings, or a core of common beliefs. Fundamentally, a community can arguably be a manifestation of a core set of similar behaviors and morals.

Community
With regards to establishing local behaviors and morals that embrace destructive tendencies, determining what people a community truly represents becomes very valuable. Consequently, when coping skills are required to manage individual inconsistencies in acceptable local behaviors, the community has a larger role in establishing acceptable standards. For example, in a rough and tumble community, an unwritten rule may exist that real men do not cry. The unintended consequence of this rule is that young men never learn to process their emotions. That dynamic results in another generation of young men who only learn to express themselves through anger and retaliation. They never developed, let alone expressed, more advance emotional skills. However, a community can function much more emotionally balanced through residents, and particularly young men, who develop a more rounded set of emotional expression. Less inhibited frustration clearly leads to less violence.

Coaching
While developing more balanced emotional capacity and expression works well in controlled environments, human interactions actually occur in a complicated world. Role models, both positive and negative, exist in that complicated role. By intentionally equipping adults, young adults, and youth with balanced emotional skills, violent outbursts erupting from pent up frustration can be minimized. Specifically, coaching can build emotional tools to manage already identified destructive community behaviors. Coaching is different from teaching. Coaching emphasizes developing established skills to an improved level so that people perform better in their environment. Ultimately, by developing positive coaching acumen among community leaders and formal teachers, the result is building coping skills in future generations to interact productively.

Communication
Creating all these positive connections among generations and community segments are unproductive without developing better communications tools. By communication tools, the community must develop abilities to share and receive ideas. In other words, people need to speak and listen with equal understanding. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the population believes listening means waiting on your turn to talk again, people’s listening skills are in serious need of an upgrade. That upgrade can start with local students, who already are in learning environments, and equipping them with skills that require paying attention. Then, encourage them to share without judgment to develop communication skills so that basic understanding will meaningfully improve. Consequently, a key element for improving Social Emotional Learning skills includes elevating listening skill levels. Effectively developing listening skills can significantly reduce misunderstandings and resultant violence.

Takeaways
As developing these tools, Community, Coaching, Communication, the 3 Cs, becomes more prevalent in communities, mutual understanding will elevate. Unsurprisingly, as cultural rifts and angry expression are currently enabled, violence and division continue to escalate across too many communities. No group, class, nor social strata seems liberated from these ills at this point. The 3 C’s of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) are essential tools to build more cohesive local environments. The benefit begins once communities become receptive to coaching so that civil communication can begin in developing better coping skills which result in more harmonious environments.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fearless, Reckless, or Clueless

Fearless Clueless School Fight

Violence rages out of control in too many schoolyards and playgrounds! Today, should school-aged children be taught to be brave, or fearless? While boys are traditionally taught to be brave as a sign of maturity, society is increasingly communicating that bravery must now cross genders. Bravery used to be a physical characteristic, featuring feats of strength. But now, it is really a social-emotional attribute. Walking away from a fight can be a sign of bravery. It demonstrates cooler heads prevailing. But, what happens when fear irrationally appears? Typically, undisciplined and reckless behaviors follow in the form of fight or flight. Often, violence follows.

Fearless
The absence of fear is close to bravery and its positive attributes. However, the absence of a negative action is not necessarily the presence of a positive one. The ability to look fear in the face while maintaining dignity clearly suggests being fearless. Where school children used to learn “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”, know today that words can be painful and scarring. Consequently, at best, fearless now means looking at long-term potential harm, and still deciding to act. Fear can be present. It may even be limiting. But, persevering through the fear and embracing the consequences is literally courage.

In most communities, youth carry many fearful emotions with them daily. The emotions result from various forms of abuse and irrational role models that routinely intrude into their daily lives. Whether these threats are real from dysfunctional families, or fabricated from media images, they contribute to many destructive decisions when interacting with others. To combat such fear-based environments, school structures must contribute to reinforce knowledge and productive life skills. Unfortunately, that step means more training for educators. The next degree of difficulty features constructive coaching from other community influences and authority figures, as well. Simply, young people need to spend more time in social environments demonstrating life-affirming traits.

Reckless
Destructive behaviors among youth often result directly from them being reckless. Such behavior coincides with the absence of discipline. Fundamentally, discipline is acknowledging established rules. In its absence, lawlessness takes root and chaos quickly follows. From a community standpoint, locals lose confidence in authority figures, including law enforcement. More aggressive rogue influences organize and assume control. The groups may be called gangs, community organizers, or concerned citizens. Regardless, once they communicate disruptive values, and then fear, locals can expect violence, and lawlessness to influence the community’s behaviors.

This social evolution potentially spreads until reckless behavior becomes the norm. Furthermore, with aggressive groups increasingly dictating local behaviors, positive and cohesive activities to strengthen community values disappear. Recklessness is the byproduct of fractured communities establishing their own guidelines despite being inconsistent with the greater society. The outcome is local groups leading through intimidation. Then, the youth grow in an environment where inconsistent rules and random authority figures represent their reality. Recklessness takes over the community and re-establishing a positive social order consistent with the broader community can literally take generations.

Takeaway
In prior generations, bravery implied standing up to bullies. Now it means being intellectually clever and emotionally flexible to avoid physical confrontation. Furthermore, youth are increasingly vulnerable to psychological stressors, in addition to physical trauma. The ability to look fear in the face and do it anyway has become increasingly difficult, yet more necessary. Developing camaraderie among youth remains a powerful tool to reduce fear. Likewise, building personal relationships among like-minded peers is an effective coping skill at all ages. Even in a digital world, common traits, mutual likes and similar dislikes attract like-minded personalities. Fearlessly welcoming others into personal, social-emotional engagement is the first clue toward building relationships. Then, personal relationships will evolve to build strong communities.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

 

 

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sitcom Solutions And SEL

watching-TV-with-kids mesmerized

Watching your favorite show typically means that the episode’s issue will be resolved in a predictable amount of time. Unfortunately, real-life challenges are not done in a 30 minute block. Even considering longer programs, 60 minute increments of time rarely solve real-life issues either. Problems like sharing personal challenges, figuring out positioning in social groups, or equipping someone to manage raging emotions all need deliberate steps amidst uncertain navigation. But, who has tools to help these situations? How do people of all ages and maturity navigate paths resulting in functional adults? Why are these problems not resolved in one episode?

Nature
Watching a school yard full of children play at recess illustrates a full spectrum of human experiences. In 30 minutes outside the classroom, exercising physical bodies, social skills, and innermost insecurities are all simultaneously happening. As children develop over the years, these seeds flourish further into identities resulting in varying degrees of functional behaviors. However, at the dysfunctional end of the spectrum, emotions run rampant toward aggression and rage. While tools are available to curtail negative behaviors, who is responsible for deploying them? Who stops the negativity from dragging down the community?

Uplifting the community coincides with uplifting the individual. While authority dictates establishing rules and parameters, positive societal outcomes result from listening. Technically, positive outcomes are a result of communicating. However, the listening component is the more difficult part. While popular entertainment delivers conflict, then resolution within a single episode, human behavior does not obey any set schedule. Strengthening tools to communicate and cope depends on the skills of the teacher and the learner. Consequently, teachers proactively need to acquire effective coping skills so that they can teach the elements of cooperating socially.

Nurture
Unfortunately, developing such coping skills defy any imposed schedule. Based on the learners, emotional, psychological, or intellectual baggage, the necessary time for correction varies dramatically. Factors ranging from school environments to home structure affects any individual’s ability to communicate appropriate, social interaction. Furthermore, this variance includes, teachers, leaders, and authority figures. The absence of Social Emotional Learning reverberates through communities and learning environments. Teachers that are burdened with emotional baggage are often ill-equipped to impart skills they never adequately received. Essentially, they cannot nurture attributes that they have not acquired themselves.

Consequently, without tools, nor allocated time, the problem festers. Poor behavior that results from poor guidance continues to foster aggression, apathy, and insensitivity. Simply starting to develop stronger listening skills often contribute to improved behaviors in developing minds. Furthermore, incorporating role play scenarios with encouragement allows positive behaviors to surface from turmoil. Also, empowering learners to establish group guidelines often facilitates positive behavioral outcomes. However, requiring conflict resolution inside a pre-designed timeframe is a recipe for frustration and failure for all involved parties.

Takeaways
Without understanding the degree of scarring that initially created dysfunctional behaviors, leaders are ill-prepared to predict in any way the necessary time to correct behaviors. Through intentional academic and community-based programming, people have the potential to develop behaviors that are more consistent with socially acceptable actions. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) helps build that strength. Creating ongoing education for all involved parties, leaders and learners, reinforces the tools to reform aggressive behaviors and transform them into more compassionate interactions. Despite not fully knowing the necessary timeframe to conclude training that improves social behaviors, the evidence is clear that the time to start instilling better behaviors is now.

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even DONATE – go to www.TYRS.org

 

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment