Volunteering taught me how to listen, rather than rush to solutions
KaSondra is a dedicated HR professional, focused on helping others define and attain success on their own terms. She believes that with the right foundation and support team, everyone has the ability and power to be great.
How did you feel after completing the conversation?
I felt like I made a difference for someone else and that was empowering. There is something powerful about being able to help someone who can do nothing for you in return. The people who volunteer do so because we genuinely care about the person on the other end. We are helping others and it’s amazingly humbling to be able to do that.
What surprised you most?
I was really concerned that the statements and questions in the “shift aid” (the guidelines volunteers use to help facilitate conversations) would not feel authentic—but I was wrong. Not only were they applicable, they were beyond helpful. The “shift aid” helped me maintain focus and direction in the conversation and could be easily tailored to meet the needs of the texter. I also didn't realize how much more prepared I would feel by knowing that I had a team around, watching, supporting, and encouraging me.
What skill was most helpful during a texting conversation?
Patience and silence. You have to give yourself and the texter time to process the information and you must formulate thoughtful and encouraging responses to continue the process. It is also important to know that sometimes you won't have enough time to get to a solution. But you can still get the conversation rolling and their wheels moving so even if the texter doesn’t return, they have something to ponder and act upon.
Did you learn anything that you'll use in your own workplace or life?
Honestly, yes. I work in HR so my main focus is solving the problem. But there is something exhilarating about watching someone discover their own path for themselves. Since we have to type our responses, we are forced to listen to them and allow them to process their thoughts and the information or alternatives we have provided. We cannot rush them or the process. At work I have found myself sitting quietly and processing information rather than attempting to solve all of the dilemmas. I have also found that by asking the right questions, I am better able to focus on the issues that I can resolve, and empower my coworkers work toward their own resolutions.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Be patient with the process. No matter how great we feel we are at communicating or listening to others, we could ALL use improvement. This will be a challenge for those who don't like to see others suffer but by guiding texters, we are allowing them to find a solution that is genuine and authentic to them—and not based on what we feel they need to do.
You will also need to recognize that we have biases. You will inevitably formulate opinions about the person, their situation, and the people they are talking about. It’s important to keep those opinions out of your responses. Remember, your purpose is to empower and encourage. Texters already have everything they need to make a decision, we are just here to light the way.