This month article covers how to create a better connection with our young people. One of the first things that we need to be aware of when we are looking to create a better connection with our young people is we have to get our own agenda out of the way. What I mean by this is you might have an agenda of wanting them to listen, wanting them to calm down or wanting them to be more confident. Get all of that thinking out of the way because the thing is they’re not stupid. If they feel like you have an agenda that is different to theirs and that your agenda is one that they do not want to fulfil you are going to meet with resistance.
We want to be able to minimise that resistance. It needs to be that the connection you create with them is seamless in a way that it’s flowing and that it’s easy. As soon as you start flagging up things like we’ve got a problem with our communication, I just don’t feel like we’re in a good place right now or I don’t feel like we’ve got a good relationship going on; it’s much more likely to create that sense of resistance from them and it will also make them feel a little bit under scrutiny and under attack.
It is important that we raise the fact that there is an issue; you have to focus on where it is we want to get to and not where it is that we are right now so that might mean saying something like:
“I know that you’re not as happy as you could be right now and ultimately, I want you to be happy. I know that you’re not feeling as confident as you could do right now, I want to make sure that we can improve on that situation”.
Once we can get our own agenda out of the way, what we’re going to be doing is thinking about how they like to communicate, how they like to listen and what makes them feel good. We’re going to be thinking about what would work for them right now because the thing is ultimately what we want when we’re building connection and trust with others is to make the other person feel good enough to allow themselves to be a bit more vulnerable and a little bit more open to letting us into their life.
If what we’re doing is just thinking about what we can get out of it like ‘why is this connection missing for me’ or ‘why is the communication not there for me’. It becomes quite a selfish act, and the other person does pick up on that at some level. We’ve got to instead stop thinking about what our needs and wants are in this relationship and start thinking about what their needs and wants are in the relationship. How we can fulfil those and then we’ll see that that connection begins to build without the resistance there.
We’re going to be really invested in them really invested in how I make this person feel good, how do I have this person feel most relaxed around me and how do I have this person, you know, feel at their absolute best. The key thing is beyond making them feel good in developing the trust in getting that connection and better communication flowing between us we then have to know ‘how do I know when I’ve got it’ even here this young person is that I’m building a connection with realistically what’s it going to look like when I’ve got it with them even who it is that we’re working with like what’s it likely to look like?
If you are a parent of a three-year-old girl, there may be a connection on that basis that she offers for you to play Barbie with her, you know, so just think about like who they are but what is a realistic outcome to be working towards. What does the connection with that particular person look like?
The key things are we’re going to get ourselves out of the equation and instead of thinking about what we want to get from this; think about what do I need to do to really build up a connection, communication and trust with them? Do I need to adjust the way in which I am listening to them? The way in which I am communicating with them. Give them more space if that’s indeed what they are asking for! Sometimes part of bringing people closer together is actually about stepping further away for a time as well. Think about what you need to do for them.
Once we have got ourselves out of the equation think about what the outcome is going to look like given the fact that we’re being realistic about who they are, what age they are, and what actual connection might be like for them rather than just what it is like for us and if we can’t communicate with them about what it is that we’re working on then we will but it is absolutely not necessary because we’re the one with the problem here. They’re quite possibly not experiencing any kind of problem except for the way in which we are interacting with them so keep all of those things in mind.
The original version of this article was written by Gemma Bailey, director of
It was republished and rebuilt with additional content by NLP4KIDS PRACTITIONER Ian Davies