Warm Languages: Musings of a Millennial

Post by Tori Kissner, Family Support Specialist - Better Indy Babies/Healthy Families

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. –Nelson Mandela 

As a proud member of the millennial generation, the news of former South African President Nelson Mandela came to me via the true blessing that is my precious smart phone. As I rapidly began typing his name into search engines to learn more, I came across a beautiful quote that spoke to me as a HealthNet employee.

As a Family Support Specialist with BIB/Healthy Families in the metro Indianapolis area, I have the privilege of seeing and experiencing a variety of cultures, languages, parenting practices, interpretations, and perceptions on a daily basis (and typically I can have all of those experiences before lunch!). It is part of what I love about my job. I have also seen other HealthNet employees have the same diversity-infused experiences at the clinics, administration office, and various outreach agencies. And perhaps without even knowing Mandela’s quote, I have seen those people speak to patients, participants, and other community members in a way that is easy to see words going to someone’s heart, not just their head.

In the last 10 years or so (forgive me, more than 10 years ago I was an adolescent or pre-adolescent), I have noticed a lot of emphasis on words and public word choice surrounding the holiday season. Whether it is choosing to say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, or “Seasons Greetings”, there seems to be a significant amount of emphasis on what words we choose to share a warm sentiment with another person.

So my challenge to you this holiday season, as well as the other 9-10 months of the year, is to internalize Mandela’s sentiment: whether it is literally speaking to someone (or attempting to speak to someone) in their native language, or if it is showing cultural sensitivity and consideration,  speak to someone’s heart. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up in the most ‘heart-felt’ conversation that you never even saw coming.

Warm Wishes from this Millennial!

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