They hear how you say it

It’s Playoff time in the NBA and our own Kiwi Tongan basketballer Steven Adams has become one of the most talked about players in America.

Steven is as well known for his Tom Selleck-style moustache and nifo koula (gold tooth) as he is for his tough and physical style of play and Kiwi sense of humour.


But it was something I heard an NBA coach say about working with today’s players that really stood out to me this week.

Nate McMillan has been coaching in the NBA  since 1999. He was recently asked how much players have changed during that time.

“You have to be thoughtful and careful about the way you communicate with today’s players,” Nate said. “They don’t hear what you say, they hear how you say it.”


Nate’s words resonated with me as a high school teacher working with teenagers over a similar time period, and as a parent of young children. It was a good reminder to reflect on the way that I speak with/to the young people in my life. “They don’t hear what you say, they hear how you say it.” Easy to say, harder to do! But a good goal to aim for.

Happy NBA Playoffs week everyone.

Looking for something to give to young people to read? Check out Jammin with Steven Adams, the story of Steven’s journey from Rotorua to the NBA.

Jammin with Steven Adams

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