What has been the most significant moment you’ve had at your place of employment? I don’t know if many of us stop to think about this. If we do, we probably don’t do it enough. Today’s guest writer, Nick, however, is about to share his with us.
You know how the saying goes. “It’s the small things that matter.”
I started my current job at the beginning of 2018. I work in a school for at-risk adolescents. Many of these children come from broken homes. Often these children speak of traumatic events such as divorce with an ease that shakes me to my core.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about. I’ll be walking you through my proudest moment as an employee at this social service agency.
If any of you reading this have ever worked in a social service agency, or been helped by someone at a similar agency, then you would know that building rapport with clients is your #1 goal behind the safety of your client.
Building rapport with your client happens every second you are with them. From the way you look at them to holding up your end of an agreement with them. Each interaction serves to build a trusting relationship with your client to ensure productive and positive treatment.
Moving on to the student whom I’ll be talking about
Most people may be too afraid to admit something like this but here it goes: this student scared the CRAP out of me when I first started my job. After watching other interactions with employees and this student, I became anxious about when this student would choose to finally blow up on me.
Then it happened. One day at lunch, I said to the student that I thought they were fibbing to me about something they told me earlier that week. Something as small as that was enough to set them off. This student went from 0 to 100 in the matter of seconds.
The student was yelling in my face, causing a scene in front of other students, claiming they were going to leave school, and threatening harm to me. Mind you, I was still very new to this job. No one had ever spoken to me in this way before. I was speechless to say the least.
What did that interaction mean?
Little did I realize that interactions like that were simply a defense mechanism for this student. If I were to begin to argue back with this student, she would know I wasn’t a safe staff member. If I were to have given up in her and never interacted with her again, she would know that I couldn’t be trusted. I did neither of those things. I continued to treat her as I would with another student. Consistency is paramount for building rapport with students.
It is obvious this student has trust and attachment issues after realizing that their defense mechanism was yelling and cursing in someone’s face. What this translated to in everyday situations was her attempting to pick favorite staff with whom she would interact with. She would shut down and only talk/look at certain staff who had built rapport with her.
For months at this job, I knew I was not that staff. I would be cursed at if I attempted to help this student with a problem on their homework. I would get yelled at if I attempted to escort them to a different room.
Finally, as the school year was winding down and I had been at the school for 5 months, my most proud moment occurred.
This student asked me to take her for a walk in the hallway as a break from homework!
As stated before, it is just the small things, but I had attempted to take this student on walks before to no avail. But finally, I had succeeded! I had now built up enough of a trusting relationship with this student for them to finally accept help from me.
I’d love to hear about any significant moments in your careers, so please leave them in the comments!
Make sure you read Emma’s beautiful guest post from last week, too!