Over the next week or so we will each share our own thoughts in response to the first prompt:
Dr. Tiffany Smith. How will you be more human in your professional practice?
In my professional practice I see my primary role as a facilitator. I facilitate understanding, data, conflict, unknowns, diverse perspectives, reflection, creation of tangible goals, “measurable” outcomes etc. In my work I teach others (clients and students) to be “change agents,” be critically reflective in their work, willing to tackle difficult conversations, and prepped to communicate with empathy and diplomacy toward meeting established goals.
I’m humbled to be on the front lines of education and the “production of knowledge” and am proud of my identity as an “evaluator,” using “scientific” inquiry to meet pressing needs and facilitate change.
As I radically (re)imagine our world, I imagine more authenticity, awareness, and care. As a facilitator of this new world, I plan to more fully embrace Two Tenets for Humanness that I feel passionate about:
- Reflective Practice
2. Authentic Communication
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
Our responsibility in embracing these tenets is willingness to be changed by our situation. To listen truly, dedicatedly, in-context. To care about the thing being reflected on.
In practicing reflection, we must be purposeful. But embrace improvisation. Be authentic and vulnerable. Importantly, just do it… take the time… talk with others, journal, try something new and be thoughtful about it.
After reflecting, it is important to assert. Be willing to say, “the direction we’re going doesn’t seem right” or “maybe we should head this direction” or “there is a power imbalance that seems to need addressing.” Be willing to push back; say the thing that needs saying. Finally – Be a change agent. We have authority and responsibility to engage and facilitate authentic communication and reflection in our practice. Silence is assent. And the “new” world needs us now.
“The difference between listening and pretending to listen, I discovered, is enormous. One is fluid, the other is rigid. One is alive, the other is stuffed. Eventually, I found a radical way of thinking about listening. Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. When I’m willing to let them change me, something happens between us that’s more interesting than a pair of dueling monologues.”
– Alan Alda, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned
One thought on “A Post from Your Host”
I love the reflection about improvisation. There’s a lot of discussion about “change agents” within social work and counseling settings, and often being a change agent involves working within a curriculum or series of protocols when interacting with criminal offenders. I have noticed that it is a trap to confine oneself within such constructs, and the thing that helps move with and beyond them is flexibility, willingness to adapt, harboring authenticity, and improvisation, which you directly state in your post. I kind of see vulnerability as a part of authenticity, but maybe because I think it is necessary to be vulnerable in order to be authentic. Small reflection, but it is interesting to me that authentic communication as a construct here is much different than the concept of authentic dialog that I have worked to harbor within counseling/education groups. Although there is large overlap between the two.
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