You may have noticed at the end of the blogs is the tagline “written by Emma Pister and Karl
Pister. My wife and I have been blessed with four marvelous children, one of whom is our family traveler and superb writer. You might remember some of her blog writing last year from Europe and Israel.
Currently she is in Thailand. I have requested that she share with you, over the next month, some of her experiences and how they relate to the work that you do with your patients in the variety of healthcare settings that you serve.
I’m working in a women’s shelter in Thailand, a northern city called Chiang Mai.
I am one of five volunteers. And one of ones that is fluent in English.
The women in the shelter are all mothers who come from high risk situations of domestic abuse. None of them are over the age of 26.
Despite their circumstances, each one of them is phenomenal. Truly examples of rising above horrible circumstances.
The first few days I was readily accepted as just another volunteer, making small efforts to learn the language. They’d smile and occasionally laugh at me, but aside from that I was pretty unscathed.
However, about five days into my assignment, I went to help in the kitchen. In front of everyone I threw a bunch of greens away into the wrong bin. Apparently this was a big deal because at least ten women erupted. First yelling at me for what I’d done wrong. I couldn’t understand what they meant. Then all of them started laughing at me and my mistake.
I could feel my whole body flush with embarrassment and I felt a flare of anger as I’d just spent the whole morning doing jobs that no one else wanted to do.
It was an odd moment as I stood over those bins fishing out greens. I realized this could go one of two ways. I could either get angry and offended and walk away. Or I could start laughing with them.
Thank goodness I did the latter, because from that moment on they started liking me more…despite my mistakes.
Even though I faked the laughter for the first ten minutes until it became real and my anger/embarrassment dissolved, this lesson was so valuable to me.
Even though the word “professional” implies doing something at a higher level, it doesn’t take away the fact that we’re human.
Each of us is going to run into a situation, eventually, in which we are humiliated, embarrassed, put down, or any other painful word you might think of.
It rarely ends in us getting fired, but it almost always ends in us feeling like a complete nobody.
So the fact of the matter is, we are going to go through this at some point in time. My challenge for you this week:
Determine from your past history how you know you will react to these situations, and make a game plan for how you are going to react in the future.
With this, I am not saying that bullying, lateral violence, intimidation is OK. Not at all. However, how we react can definitely influence the behaviors of others. While there are steps to address these inappropriate behavior our individual ability to react well is always something that could use work.
Sound a little obscure? It really isn’t. We might be surprised by just how often we are in situations that make us feel inferior. We either get offended, angry, defensive, or… we can take a much more productive path.
Good luck this week!