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Let’s Talk About It: Strengthening Communication Skills in Young Adults

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Parents are concerned that communication skills in young adults are underdeveloped as they’ve grown up communicating through social media and the internet. Although this has helped people with social anxiety stay more connected, young adults today struggle to have open and honest conversations in person without needing the distraction of an activity or technology. Effective communication skills are necessary for young adults to build healthy relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and significant others. Having strong communication skills helps students transition from residential treatment to succeed in the adult world.

Journey Home East follows a relationship-based model that focuses on how to build and strengthen relationships within the program and understanding how to re-integrate into the community. The foundation of relationships is knowing how to balance talking with listening, giving and receiving, and working together with being self-sufficient. Communication is all about connection.

How to Stay Present in Relationships


1. Listen to others


Actively listen. The most important communication skill is knowing when to stop talking. Listen fully without planning a response. Pause before responding. Be open to hearing what someone wants to say, even if it is difficult.

Use reflective judgment. When you are listening to someone, pay attention to the message they are trying to convey. Validate their experience by rephrasing their message. Use statements like “I hear” or “it sounds like.” Try to mirror their logic by condensing their arguments, so that they can re-evaluate it as well. If you want to point out that something is irrational, instead of saying that, exaggerate their rationale and give them space to correct you or to realize it themselves.

2. Relate to others

Choosing the right words. Get in touch with root emotions. Know when to separate your beliefs from your emotions. Knowing the right words is drilled into students in grade school when building their vocabulary and improving their writing style. Young adults realize that there won’t always be the right words for any situation and often overanalyze the right thing to say, which can take away from its authenticity. The most authentic words are the most direct.

Knowing when to ask who for what kind of advice. Consider your audience. When presenting an issue you’ve been dealing with, get to the point. Sometimes the full context of a situation is unnecessary, depending on your relationship with the person. Know what kind of answer you want to hear and phrase your question in a way that makes it easier for the other person to understand what you are looking for.

Willingness to learn from others. Be willing to accept advice that you ask for. Acknowledge that there are multiple perspectives to every issue. Beliefs cannot always be categorized into right and wrong. Be willing to admit that you might be wrong or that you don’t know the answer to something.

3. Connect

Show Empathy. We all share many aspects of the human experience and can tap into our shared experiences to relate to other people. Empathy refers to awareness of other people’s feelings, needs, and concerns that increases our awareness of how to be there for other people. Understanding shared experiences reduces division between people and helps you to understand where other people might be coming from, especially if you have been in a similar place before.

Know your boundaries. Get in touch with your emotions and your emotional needs. Be able to understand the limits of your comfort zone and feel comfortable explaining this to other people. This is particularly important when it comes to self-advocacy and sexual consent.

Getting Help at Journey Home East

Journey Home East is a transitional program for young women, ages 16 to 21. Our program is specifically designed to help those who need ongoing support after successfully completing an intensive treatment program, such as a residential treatment center. We value strengthening relationships, communicating effectively, and owning your personal experience.