Quite some time ago I came across the idea that “Talk Blocks for Work” (registered trademark) could be helpful in communication (or even just self-awareness). They’re a set of six blocks, 3 red & 3 blue, with a word & an illustration of the word on each side. The red blocks are emotions & the blue are needs. The idea is that someone could choose one side of a red block to signify how they feel & one side of a blue block to signify what they need. So one might select a red block that says “irritable” and a blue block that says “time alone” to convey “I feel irritable. I need time alone.”
As one who has a very hard time with the common question, “How are you?”, I thought these sounded like they’d be worth a try…but I wasn’t willing to spend $43 on the experiment. I got the idea to try making my own & got wooden blocks fairly quickly (I found a 1″x1″ board & had my mom cut it into 1″ cubes), but then I got stuck & wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. Only recently did I finally put words on them by printing out paper cubes & gluing them on (I picked words I thought were most likely to apply to me & made my blocks pink & light green instead of red & blue). I waterproofed them using “Preserve Your Memories II” (we discipline kitties with squirt bottles, so having inkjet printouts run when they get spattered is an issue around here!)
This would mean, “I feel overwhelmed. I need to ask for help.”
The experiment is still new, but so far, so good. It’s helpful to have the question “how am I feeling?” as “multiple choice”, and to have something tangible to use in answering it (I’m kinesthetic). Even if I can find words for feelings, getting them to come out of my mouth is often next to impossible. With the blocks, that’s not an issue. Then asking what I need…that’s something of a paradigm shift. It’s giving me “permission” to have needs, and the idea that there might actually be something that would help…and they don’t necessarily have to be solutions coming from somebody else. If I come to the conclusion that I need perspective, I have options for that on my own (especially specific songs & books).
The other day, I left the blocks on “aimless” and “direction” (“I feel aimless. I need direction”) at my prince’s place at the table. When he saw them, he gave me sympathy and a very direct little humorous suggestion (which I followed :)). It was good to feel understood, even in a small way. On another occasion, I’d had a good day & just left him the block “satisfied”. He was pleased & asked what had brought about that happy state of affairs. I replied that I’d made several pretty cards that worked (I’ve been playing with designs for popup cards recently :)) & I felt good about them. That’s also communication that wouldn’t have happened without the blocks.
I guess what I’m saying is that I recommend them :), especially if you can make your own, tailor-made to things you’re likely to want to communicate.
Here’s a Word template from mine:TalkBlockTemplate, for blocks about 1″ in all dimensions. The words are “WordArt”, and can be changed to suit what you’d be most likely to use.
Here are the words I used:
In pain (headache)
Out of it
(although today I was wishing I’d added “restless”)
To share my happiness
People to be patient with me
To ask for help