Two weeks ago I shared with the readers a partial overview of the three sessions that were held for staff on the topic of "Anger Management". The topic included issues of respect, dignity, attitude and service. Our instructor, John Beams from the Center For Nonviolence, was an avid instructor as he continued to teach the session titled "Personal Path to Professionalism".
John's guidance was critical for preparing us for potentially challenging encounters with others. Some may be in the midst of their own anger episode. In the course of the training, the participants were asked to introduce themselves and respond to the following question. "As a professional working with people in need, are you in a position to alleviate suffering, or increase the suffering of people in need?" All 30 individuals responded in the affirmative.
That was a relatively easy question to answer. The next question was, "What are the words, phrases and actions that you use to alleviate suffering or to increase suffering?" This exercise was beneficial to self-evaluate our actions and how those actions determine how we fulfill our mission to help people in need.
Throughout the training we could see the importance of understanding our personal issues and controlling those issues in the workplace. Once we looked at ourselves, it is a natural progression to empathize with the clients we see daily. Now this allows me to be more mindful, aware and sensitive of the humanity of people in need. Our own personal distresses can spill out on people around us, including staff and our clients.
As we progressed through the training, we discussed ways to help each other through distress, and maintain professionalism while dealing with our own needs. The emphasis was placed on being aware of our clients who are in need.
At some point, most of us has been hurt or made to endure unfair suffering. Before we can overcome suffering, we may feel like a victim; become angry; give up; become demanding and sarcastic; or we may even retreat into a shell. On the same note, our Clients, the people in need, sometimes reveal their suffering in the same way.
We were asked to close our eyes. Think of a person receiving services from Wayne Township Trustee Office. We were encouraged to "become" that person for a moment to think like he or she thinks; feel what she or he feels; be the voice of this person. This activity was so revealing, because so much was revealed about the needs of our clients.
We began to share memorable encounters with clients (anonymously) and it became clear to me that my staff is human. They want to do all that they can to help every person that walks into the office. Because of guidelines and statutes our hands are sometimes tied and this may contribute to our individual frustration.
Our workers are not here because they are being paid major dollars. They are focused and here to assist. The last thing anyone wants to do is further aggravate a client's situation. Every member of the team has a key role in helping our organization and our clients succeed.
Again, I am encouraged and inspired to strive towards what is important, and that is to provide excellent service to our clients at all times.
Last weekend was Father's Day. I am reminded that family is most important. We are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success, they constantly push us toward it. Let's honor our Father's everyday.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee