Public service has the potential to change lives. Not only those on the receiving side, but those giving. In 2012, I called the California School for the Blind to initiate a campaign to donate several ergs to the school. It wasn’t until I looked back at this community service project, that I began to understand how it changed my life.
1. Words have meaning
When you are communicating with another it is essential that you create and maintain trust. We have the ability to build or destroy trust by following through on the things we say. Trust is incremental to gain and quick to lose. If we continuously fulfill this dialogue, trust will be built; however, if we do not fulfill what we say, trust will be diminished, quickly. You’ve probably seen a hollywood film with a dysfunctional father who continues to promise to attend his son’s sporting events, yet never shows up. Each communication (every small thing that we tell others) is an opportunity to earn trust.
2. Memory is a powerful force.
The students could remember so many things, even things that we discussed from 6 months prior. Their memories could place and recollect my weekend plans, my colleagues and even my favorite songs. I had to do some serious soul searching when I forgot the name of one of the CSB students. It had been 6 months since I had seen her last, but the look on her face was pure disappointment. I came to understand that I had been failing my own memory. Since volunteering at the CSB, I have seriously focused on my own memory and because memory the capacity to impress or disappoint others.
A few brain games:
- Your brain has more dendrites (10^17) than grains of sand on earth.
- Your memory works well with visual imagery and faces. In a study of children and adults across the board, they recognized 98% of faces shown to them 6 weeks prior.
3. Watch, do, listen
There are three primary ways that we learn anything: visual, haptic and verbal. A blind student only has access to two of these mediums. It means that a good communicator must be very clear about verbal requests and comments. In the outside world, people can get away without giving their words purpose our clarity in part due to visual communication. I learned that being crystal clear in verbal communication was essential to providing feedback and purpose.