For the second time in 3 years, I lost my voice. And when I share that I lost my voice, I mean truly whispers and squeaks were all I had to offer. Resulting from a sinus infection, once I got my trusty ole Zpack on board, I was feeling pretty healthy and continued to work and take part of my normal activities. But geez, without a voice, life got tough – things took longer and frustration set in quickly.
As a preschool teacher – this made my teaching day a bit challenging. Imagine the amount of noise that a room with seventeen three year olds can create, and then add in a teacher that sounds like Minnie Mouse – it was an EXPERIENCE. My sweet little girls showed great compassion and doted on me lovingly. My cutie little boys repeatedly asked me “Why are you talking to me like that?” and “What is wrong with you?”. Teaching three year olds, I work frequently with those that have communication delays. Their expressive language is still developing and they often find themselves unable to speak their minds or make their points effectively. This results in frustration and eventual behavioral issues at times – which I can easily understand after dealing with similar situations recently. Attempting over and over to be understood while not having your needs met is exasperating. It has opened my eyes to the extra patience that I should use as I try to determine the needs of my little ones. It can be exhausting to repeatedly try to communicate a thought without success. I will for sure keep this in mind the next time I find a young one struggling to express his needs.
As I set out to communicate without using my voice, I was forced to try other ways to be “heard”. I found myself using extremely animated facial expressions – wide eyes, raised eyebrows – I’m fairly certain that I looked like a crazy lady, but I also feel that it was truly helpful as I tried to convey emotions without words. I also snapped my fingers, clapped my hands, and knocked on the tables to attract the children’s attention. Turning off the lights was a trick that I already used in order to alert the children to a transition, so that was nice to use since it did not involve my voice. I also found myself seriously considering the necessity to talk or respond at any given moment. Quite often, it was just easier if I just stayed quiet- not making a difference if I had shared my opinion or not. Sometimes we talk simply to fill the silence – but silence isn’t so bad – really, it isn’t.
As my body heals and my voice returns, I’m left with the lessons that I was taught through this experience. Communication is so very important, but in general, we can all afford to be more patient with each other as we try to express ourselves. We all want one thing – to be heard. It’s worth the extra thought regarding word choice and tone of voice as we attempt to share our thoughts and ideas. On the other hand, listening in order to truly hear someone’s concerns is equally important in order to effectively communicate. It’s definitely not as easy as it looks, but it’s worth it when we feel like we are seen, heard and understood. Can you hear me now ?