Q: We have a youth group in our local community which is the next generation after the older one and I’m currently the leader of it.
                                                                  I have couple of questions regarding this.
                                                                  What are good communication skills? Like as a youth group, we struggle a lot with replying to each other or communication in general. We tend to have problems with miscommunication which lead to arguments. We also aren’t able to be completely honest with each other either because we are afraid of hurting each other’s feelings or worried what will happen. Is there any way to solve this problem Maharaj?
                                                                  I guess my nature is to be too nice which is why I feel that the members of the group don’t take me seriously sometimes as a leader. How should I balance being both firm and nice at the same time?



                                                                  Good Communication Skills(drafted with assistance from a good communicator!):
                                                                  Effective communication is very important in maintaining good relationships with devotees. The key to communicate effectively is to speak the matter clearly and directly. And, respect for the other person should be inherent in your expressions either written or verbal. Whenever possible it’s best to have a personal conversation to avoid misunderstandings in verbal communication.
                                                                  When we express ourselves in situation of a hurt feeling, it’s best to speak in “I” messages – for eg: “I felt hurt” instead of saying “You hurt me”. In that way you are taking responsibility for your feelings and are not blaming the other person.
                                                                  Another important aspect in communication is to be able to listen what other person has to say without filters and judgements. You have to be present in the moment to be able to hear the other person and not get distracted. Also, make sure not to take things personally when the other person expresses their heart. Be in a place of detachment, yet very caring and loving to the other person.
                                                                  As a leader, do not be afraid to voice any concerns or difficulties. However, ensure that you are practising open and honest communication. You can express your limitations in a humble manner and at the same time your genuine desire to be of some service as a leader of the group. As devotees, we definitely want to make sure our speech is pleasing to others, but that should not be done at the cost of being disservice to the other person and the situation.
                                                                  Bhagavad Gita 17:15 is a good verse to meditate to practice good speech and communication qualities.
                                                                  Always remember to be in the mood of service and pray and depend on Krishna for strength and intelligence to express yourself in appropriate and devotional manner.