Cut The Crap
Caring relationships can make a difference. As a family and peer support facilitator in an organization, I offered group sessions with clients and/or the client’s family. I had to earn the clients’ trust before they would share what they truly felt and thought.
Connecting with them as they came to the center and meeting them where they were at helped them to get to know me. I told them how I could support them and their family and if they wanted to chat, my office was near the front door. It was left in their power to decide if they wanted to talk to me.
They came to my door, then inside my office and then gradually started sharing their personal challenges. Over time I bravely asked them what it was that had them sharing their issues with me. They told me they saw that I was honest and that I got to to the point. They trusted honesty rather than the fluff. I had one client ask me help him figure out what he had to do and to help him follow through with what he said he would do and to call him on it when I saw he had no intention of doing it. This led him to promising he would do what he said he would do. Breaking his promise would have had him feeling guilty, which would then led to his avoiding me. This would leave the door open to shame creeping in.
What is important in building relationships is to be who you are. I care enough to be honest and to listen. But they test you constantly. For example, a client started telling me what was happening in his life. Then he said, “you’re not buying this, are you?”. I said “no I’m not”. Well he left and returned five minutes later and told me he didn’t expect me to be honest”. I told him to get used to it. If I had said “oh no, I bought what you said”, my facial and body language would have told him I was lying. Trust was built with honesty.
Growing up, when faced with a problem or feeling defeated, I was expected to get up, get at it and get on with it. Even though I was frustrated when I was challenged to quit complaining and to do something about it, I learned to face the issue at hand, find a way to work through it and figure it out.
Muriel Hemmingway writes about breaking the chain after 7 people committed suicide in her family. She decided she needed to do something to make break the cycle for her and her children. Her book ‘Running with Nature’ explains how she has defined a way to deal with this demon. One was “Through thought-provoking discussions and suggestions for lifestyle modifications….”.She said taking action was vital in the process of the time it would take to make the necessary changes.
In short, cut the crap, be honest, and listen.