Take Action

Join the movement of young people working to protect our health and lives

Action Center

Take action to help ensure young people's health and rights.


Donate now

Support youth activists working for reproductive and sexual health and rights.


Sign up

Get text and email updates


Building Blocks to Effective Communication

Building Block




 Adult Response


1. Listening

Focusing on the present; not bringing up past problems or mistakes; creating safety to express anything

I feel that right now you need me to just listen to you.

Dad, it’s been a terrible day. Absolutely horrible—I really messed up!

Would you like to tell me about it? I’ll just listen.

2. Praising

Giving earned rewards frequently; recognizing efforts rather than products or end results

You worked so long and so hard on the project.

Look at what I made with my blocks and trucks and sticks!

You worked a long time to build your city and look at how you used every block.

3. Feeling

Sharing feelings such as anger, joy, and frustration; using "I" statements

1) I feel …, 2) I’m so angry when you …, and 3) I love you.

I hate you!

I love you and feel very sad when you say that.

4. Respecting

Letting others make decisions; avoiding judging and advising; trying to help him/her make his/her own decisions

1) It’s your choice. and 2) What can I do to help you?

Mom, I don’t know what to do. He says he will break up with me if I don’t go all the way.

What can I do to help you with this tough decision?

5. Listening

Identifying the feeling as well as the content and asking the person to confirm it

It sounds like you were very frustrated by the class change. Is that right?

I can’t believe that my teacher is giving me a "C" on my paper. I worked really hard and did everything he told me to do.

You sound very frustrated and disappointed? Is that right? Would you like to talk about it?

6. Trusting

Being consistent; asking for input and understanding that children need to learn in their own way even if they make mistakes

I know you will be thoughtful and responsible.

She is a good driver. She is careful and makes everyone wear a seatbelt. Can I ride to the lake with her?

I know I can trust you and you have good judgment.

7. Affirming

Finding the positive to express

1) You are so competent. and 2) You make me happy when you …

Dad, look at me, look at me! I swam to the other side of the pool.

You are such a good swimmer and know how to be safe in the water.

8. Reflective Listening

Reflecting what another says; paraphrasing a person’s words so he/she know he/she has been heard

You sound angry about your friend’s response. Is that so?

You won’t believe what she said and did to me. I’ll never be her friend again!

You sound very angry with her. Is that right? Would you like to talk about it?

9. Clarifying

Asking for more information when unsure

Could you tell me more about your fight with your friend?

I hate him. He’s such a dumb-dumb. I don’t care if I ever play with him again.

Can you tell me more about what happened with him?


10. Acting

Finding physical ways to show care, concern, and attention

1) Making eye contact, 2) Touching when appropriate, 3) Hugging, 4) Staying near the person.

Your child comes home from school, slams the door shut, drops his/her clothes on the floor, kicks the cabinet, and turns on the TV.

You sit next to your child, hold his/her hand, look him/her in the eye, and then tell him/her that you would like to know why he/she is so angry.

Sign up for Updates