…I owned my own shop.
As a shop owner I realised that my customers were all individuals who all thought differently and expressed a broad range of opinions. To keep people coming through my door, I had to show them respect by listening to them and
acknowledging their opinions. Also, crucially, I understood that a smile with the eyes as well as from the mouth led to an impression of good customer service.
On to my role as a support worker, wow, this tested me! To ensure the people I supported kept allowing me to come through their door, I had to, as before, show them respect by listening to them and offering a genuine smile.
During those first few weeks and months a few questions, but only occasional answers, came to mind: How can I understand the people I support? Observing individuals was going to help here; I tried to recognise any clues as to what was going on for them. How can I make myself understood? Using individuals preferred method of communication was going to be the only way, but what was it?
I muddled through but reflected on the fact that I had a lot to learn. When the opportunity to attend Great Interactions training came up I grabbed the opportunity to attend, some of the things I learnt there began to help me a lot.
Some of what I learnt seems obvious now and I hope some of it comes naturally. I find the facilitation skills need constant practise and they need to be thought about all the time to make sure I’m getting close to getting it right. The skills include positioning, eye contact, listening, touch and I think, above all, warmth as a genuine smile works wonders.
I recommend that you take any training or support you are offered about Great Interactions, you’ll find it interesting and it’ll get you thinking about the job and enjoying it all the more. Having something to talk about helps, I need to do some more work on this. I’ve got photos, magnetic wall boards, albums, books, art work, music and so on but using them has to be tailored to the individual. Resolving some of these individual preferences is my next challenge. Sometimes my attention and encouragement seem to be enough for a Great Interaction; at the very least I get a smile back.
Lately I have read the Great Interactions book and I would ask you to read it. It’s an interesting pointer to what we are all about, maximising well-being through Great Interactions. You might have issues, time, supervision, supporting
people with behaviour that challenges you and a whole lot more but reading it and following it up can only help. Oh yes, try things, they might not always work but keep going, a lot will work and you’ll find everyone is a winner.
Finally, persist and keep smiling.