Today I will be driving to Lindsay to take the second day of a two-day course in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention. Yesterday was mostly classroom work. Apparently today, it gets physical. My knee has been really wonky this week, so I’m going to wear my brace and bring drugs, and I’m going to make it clear to the instructor that this is an issue. Hopefully no one decides Big Bird’s goin’ DOWN. There’s only two old farts in the class of 24 students. It’s mostly shiny young faces. Shiny young strong-looking faces.
I signed up for this class at the urging of my man, who was surprised that we’re not required to take it. Apparently it’s de rigeur for social workers, teachers, security guards, hospital workers, PSWs, etc., etc. – really, anyone who works with people who have the potential to explode. I approached my supervisor about it, and was encouraged to sign up for it. They’re going to reimburse me the tuition, although I’m on my own time, and I have to eat the mileage for two days to Lindsay and back, but that’s okay. I’m to speak about it at our next district teleconference to determine whether it’s of value for our front line staff.
After only one day of the two day course, I’ve already determined that this is Stuff We Need to Know. Every single person I deal with at work is there because they have a problem. They’re all stressed to some degree. I often have to tell people things they don’t want to hear. I’m the messenger. I try to be a humane, empathetic messenger, but often the message is neither. It’s hard to deliver bad news, and even harder to accept it, I think. No matter how nicely you say it, sometimes the answer is still “no”.
I offer alternatives. I outline policy. I apologize. I try to treat people in the way I’d want to be treated if I was on the other side of the desk. But I know myself, when I’m stressed, and not getting what I think I need, that if I’m not listened to, I can get pretty irate.
In past incarnations of my workplace, I’ve sometimes cringed when I’ve overheard staff/client interactions at the counter. High-handed, bureaucratic dismissal, distinctly lacking in respect. I’m not naming names, but suffice it to say, none of those staff are with the organization anymore. I’ve spent a lot of years thinking about this, and it all boils down to respect. I think we all need to feel good about ourselves, yes. BUT, bolstering your self-esteem by comparing your circumstances to the circumstances of others is not the way to go.
We’re a little privileged, and I worry about that. We’re employed. Many of our clients are not. We’re educated. We’re literate. We don’t suffer from conditions that impair our daily functioning. We’re (mostly) sound, mentally. Most significantly, though, Fortune has been in our corners, and nothing has happened to us that has required us to retain the services of a costly lawyer.
It’s a little trite to say “there but for the grace of God go I”, but it’s so, so true. I am my client, and my client is me. And sometimes things overwhelm me, and sometimes I lose control in the face of seeming helpless situations. Sometimes I need someone to listen to me, and calm me down.