Inspiring Open Communication
Girls want someone who will listen to what they think, feel, and
want to do. They like having someone they can talk to about important
things, including things that might not seem important to adults. Listen
to the girls. Respond with words and actions. Speak your mind openly
when you are happy or concerned about something, and encourage girls to
do this, too. Leave the door open for girls to seek advice, share
ideas and feelings, and propose plans or improvements. Help girls see
how open communication can result in action, discovery, better
understanding of self and others, and a more comfortable climate for
fun and accomplishment.
Communicating Effectively with Girls of Any Age
When communicating with girls, consider the following tips:
- Listen: Listening to girls, as opposed to
telling them what to think, feel, or do (no “you shoulds”) is the first
step in helping them take ownership of their program.
- Be honest: If you’re not comfortable with a
topic or activity, say so. No one expects you to be an expert on every
topic. Ask for alternatives or seek out volunteers with the required
expertise. (Owning up to mistakes—and apologizing for them—goes a long
way with girls.)
- Be open to real issues: For girls, important
topics are things like relationships, peer pressure, school, money,
drugs, and other serious issues. (You’ll also have plenty of time to
discuss less weighty subjects.) When you don’t know, listen. Also seek
help from your council if you need assistance or more information than
you currently have.
- Show respect: Girls often say that their
best experiences were the ones where adults treated them as equal
partners. Being spoken to as a young adult helps them grow.
- Offer options: Providing flexibility in
changing needs and interests shows that you respect the girls and their
busy lives. But whatever option is chosen, girls at every grade level
also want guidance and parameters.
- Stay current: Be aware of the TV shows girls
watch, movies they like, books and magazines they read, and music they
listen to—not to pretend you have the same interests, but to show
you’re interested in their world.
One way to communicate with girls is through the LUTE
method—listen, understand, tolerate, and empathize. Here is a breakdown
of the acronym LUTE to remind you of how to respond when a girl is
upset, angry, or confused.
- L = Listen: Hear her out, ask for details, and reflect back what you hear, such as, “What happened next?” or “What did she say?”
- U = Understand: Try to be understanding of
her feelings, with comments such as, “So what I hear you saying is . .
.” “I’m sure that upset you,” “I understand why you’re unhappy,” and
“Your feelings are hurt; mine would be, too.”
- T = Tolerate: You can tolerate the feelings
that she just can’t handle right now on her own. It signifies that you
can listen and accept how she is feeling about the situation. Say
something like: “Try talking to me about it. I’ll listen,” “I know
you’re mad—talking it out helps,” and “I can handle it—say whatever you
- E = Empathize: Let her know you can imagine
feeling what she’s feeling, with comments such as, “I’m sure that
really hurts” or “I can imagine how painful this is for you.”
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