Finding your voice

Group of women who took part in a short course, run by the Messenger
Group of women who took part in a short course, run by the Messenger.

Story and photo by Carrie Hedderwick

Passive? Aggressive? Assertive? Which of these describes the attitude and the method you use to communicate now, and what do you think is the most productive way to communicate?

Sahra and Khadra are members of a group of women who took part in a short course, run by the Messenger, on how to build confidence and how to be more active in the community by understanding how good communication works.

Jo, the tutor, explained a basic process – whatever it is you want to change or achieve, think hard about what you want the outcome to be! Then work backwards to see what approach you need to use.

Many women, as well as improving their English language skills, are keen to get into work. They are therefore keen to know how to negotiate with fellow workers and employers, how to deal effectively with difficult customers, and how to get a point across without hurting people’s feelings.

Group of women
Group of women who took part in a short course, run by the Messenger.

Jo and her co-trainer, Naomi from the Messenger, both stressed the need to reflect on what the issue or problem is. Make sure that you have all the important facts, be tactful, don’t let emotions overtake any disagreement, and in some cases, recognise that you might have to ‘agree to disagree’. The group agreed that they feel in a better position now to be able to express themselves and therefore to be able to influence situations, whether at work, at home or in the community.

After the certificate awards and some excellent homemade food provided by one of the group, Sahra and Khadra spoke about their personal circumstances. Khadra arrived in Sheffield when she was 9, never having been to school, but has since worked at Firshill Primary and is keen to find further work. Sahra has worked for many organisations as an interpreter and also volunteers at the local Citizens Advice Bureau, and as an organiser of football activities. Both of them and the other women would like to be more active, involved, and in decent paid employment.