I recently had an experience that I felt so strongly about that I wrote publicly about it. The post was called “Trauma Informed Practice; How Do We Walk The Talk” and looked at what happens when a relationship breaks down with an organisation.
That post was read over 7000 times. My inbox was continuously pinging. WhatsApp was alerting me all day. Why? Because the experience I shared, resonated.
- Saying something out loud that people felt unable to share about openly, opened the door for people to feel connected, to experience that sensation of not feeling alone. “That happened to me too.” This is incredibly powerful.
- The resonance was multi-layered and tapped into a multiplicity of experiences that highlighted that feeling of injustice and harm.
- I talked through my emotional response in detail; the feelings it evoked within me. This supported an emotional language where there sometimes isn’t one. In other words, things happen to us and we don’t always have the words to describe how we feel.
There were two main groups of people who contacted me in solidarity and also to say thank you for talking about the issues raised. There were people who spoke to me of how they felt when they had lived experiences extracted from them, re-written, used for the benefit of organisations AND there were people who worked as consultants, usually sole traders like myself, who had work extracted from them only to find it used for the organisations benefit. I heard stories of consultants writing lengthy proposals only to find larger organsiations use their work for their own purposes and tendering processes. I heard of young people feeling completely voiceless and without agency about how ‘their story’ was used.
Bringing both of these areas into the public space left me feeling personally and professionally vulnerable but I am so pleased that I did. It was the right thing to do and it set a clear boundary about what is ok and what isn’t.
What happened next? We were at that all too familiar crossroads that move a relationship forward or harm it for good. Having shared this post with the organisation, they came back to me within 24 hours and we set up a meeting. The first step of repairing this rupture was in place. We have since had a meeting and spent time talking through how this situation went so horribly wrong. I am satisfied that there will be many meetings and that there is ongoing work within the organisation that they will be undertaking due to this experience happening.
It is clear to me from this experience, that this situation happens when an organisation spends too much looking inwards rather than outwards and that existing ruptures within an orgniasation are not dealt with for a very long time and then ‘spill out.’ The pandemic has meant that we have been forced to look inwards, as individuals, as organisations and as a society. Many people/orgnisations have simply been focusing on the business of surviving! It feels that the time has come to start to look outwards again. So the question is, how are we going to emerge from the pandemic in ways that mean we can focus on what we have learnt, what we want to release from our lives/practice and what do we want to deepen? We can go in one direction or another or not budge at all. However, if we have not learnt that we need new ways of being, of living and of working, then I fear we will have wasted an opportunity.