It began 15 years ago. At that time, I was teaching Speech & Drama at Julia Gabriel and writing for magazines. That’s when I realised how powerful language was and how asking the right questions made all the difference. I gradually found myself understanding thoughts and emotions more. Later, I moved to Hong Kong, and began teaching at this wonderful place, where no one understood English. That’s when I had my second ‘aha’ moment. I realised the importance of reading the non-verbal cues as well. To my delight, language wasn’t the only tool to understand people. There were many, many other ways. The art of asking the right questions remained important though.
Armed with the 2 epiphanies, I began looking for avenues to reach out to those who might gain from insights in to their minds and lives. I became a volunteer-mentor with the Ministry of Social & Family Development (Singapore), specialising in teen/ family mentoring. What followed was training by the Ministry, an added degree in Psychology, and certifications in therapies and Creative Problem Solving.
Apart from volunteering, I started mentoring and coaching professionally as well, and my life was filled with conversations. I began talking to people of all ages, trying to understand what they said and what they couldn’t. Why would people talk to me, I wondered or to anyone else for that matter. But they do. They do because of 4 reasons:
- Talking is one of the ways to make sense of one’s thoughts and emotions.
- It releases stress.
- Most people have a need to be heard.
- It helps in decision-making.
I have had conversations with kids who have been bullied, teens who are struggling with their identities and with adults, hoping for clarity of thoughts or looking for assistance in decision making. These conversations have changed my life. It has changed the way I think of the world around me and it has changed the way I perceive myself too. And it all began 15 years ago, in the month of June.
There’s still much to learn and still much to know but somehow, learning how to ask the right question has been the most important tool in this journey.