top of page

A New Practice Manual

  • Introduction
    A well-paying job is the foundation of financial stability. Our mission is to help remove barriers to successful employment. One of the biggest barriers to attaining and retaining employment is unresolved trauma. Building client resiliency, along with the more traditional workforce development practices, can help increase the likelihood of success in the workplace. This guide represents our efforts to share what we have learned through researching best practices and from collaborating with professionals who work in the field. We are encouraged and inspired by the dedication of Chicago’s many workforce development organizations to help uplift neighborhood residents and provide the resources they need to find stable employment.
  • Intake and Assessment
    Most if not all of the clients that are served in job readiness and workforce development programs are attempting to recover from or manage ongoing traumatic life experiences. Recognizing and responding to the negative effects of physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual trauma can help your clients heal and succeed in the workplace. In order for clients to take full advantage of the skill development opportunities, they need to trust the organization as a whole and the individual staff members providing direct services--they need to feel safe. Look for ways to build safety, trust, choice, collaboration, and empowerment into all interactions and conversations. The intake interview is a great opportunity to begin the process of building trust and demonstrating your respect for your client. Your program’s protocol should build rapport and avoid triggering new anxiety or past trauma. Ample time should be given so that clients don’t feel rushed. Rushing the intake process may leave clients feeling unheard and unsupported. Build 15-minute breaks between interviews so clients don’t feel rushed Privacy is important to everyone but is especially important to people with a history of trauma. Ensure your clients understand that health histories are confidential. When scheduling interviews, the staff person should explain your organization's commitment to confidentiality. Clearly explain policies around confidentiality of health information Some clients may need trauma-informed accommodations, such as having a person of a certain gender conduct the intake interview. The scheduler should ask each person whether they would like any accommodations and make those arrangements before the person’s appointment. This process allows the client to make requests comfortably and not feel anxious about needing accommodation on the day of the interview. Ask about requested accommodations during intake – this helps clients be in control of the process Understandably, clients may be hesitant to discuss trauma histories for fear that it will impact their employability. The safer a person feels, the more likely they are to reveal their experiences with trauma and make you aware of their need for support. Intake Interview To help build trust and rapport, try to conduct interviews in a private space. If you are holding in-person interviews, ensure that your meeting room is welcoming and feels safe. Find ways for clients to control the experience – for example, offer water and/or the ability to take breaks If you are conducting interviews via Zoom or another remote platform, consider selecting a peaceful virtual background (such as a nature scene) During your intake interview and subsequent sessions, your clients may share something distressing. You may not know how to respond. Not knowing what to say is okay. Sometimes words can’t help. When you listen compassionately and express your support through your non-verbal communication, you will help your client feel safe. It’s okay to say ‘I don’t know what to say’. It can also be helpful to normalize the person’s feelings and experience by reminding him or her that it is not unusual for people to have strong feelings that arise following this type of interview. End the intake with a gentle wrap-up - “We have covered a lot of territory over the past hour. How are you doing right now?” To access additional information regarding intake interviews, click here. Job Readiness Checklist After you have gotten to know your client through the initial intake process, it will be time to discuss their job readiness. The following questions are designed to help your client develop a preparedness plan and to take a closer look within themselves to address any barriers prohibiting employment. About my employment I have a clearly defined employment goal. I have a short and long-term employment goal. I have determined a time frame to achieve my goal and I am fully accountable for it. I identified my obstacles to finding and keeping a job and have a plan to address it. I know the industry and my capabilities. I understand my background check and am able to effectively address any issues that appear. I understand the demands of this industry and know my capability. I am willing to accept transitional employment until I can land the job I dream of or one that will allow me to be self-sufficient. About my preparedness I have explored known personal issues related to employment such as unresolved trauma. I have learned two self-regulation techniques that I can use while at work. I am able to show all required documents to an employer such as Social Security, I-9 documents, state-issued identification, and work permit. I demonstrate the necessary verbal and written communication skills to meet my employment objective. I have a resume and the resume is typed, neat, and organized. I know how to fill an online employment application. A potential employer can easily get in touch with me. I can pass a drug screening. I have explored known personal issues related to employment such: Housing/Food Disability Child Care Mobility/Transportation No Legal Status to Employment Substance Abuse About my Finances I have a budget and spending plan to help me manage my current income/financial situation. I know my credit score and what is on my credit report (applicable if employers check credit). I have a plan for how I will transition from receiving public benefits to supporting myself through my own budget. About my search I have prepared a list of potential employers. I have a plan to network professionally. I have established a strong online reputation/presence, (if appropriate). Such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and attend job fairs and job clubs. I will apply and complete follow-up on applications submitted. I will make follow-up phone calls and emails. I have the appropriate references.
  • Preparing for Employment
    Helping clients practice setting goals can lead them one step closer to their ideal future. As you help your clients develop this skill, you will find that some goals are not “set in stone,” they may change as your clients change and grow. Change is good - the important thing is for your clients to have a positive vision for their future and begin the process to make that vision a reality. Goal Setting Step #1: Personal Vision Worksheet The questions below are prompts for your clients to begin exploring their Personal Vision -- who are they? What kind of life do they want to live? You. What kind of person do you want to be? What qualities do you admire in others and would like to possess? Health. How does your physical health factor into your life vision? What aspects of your health would you like to improve? In what ways are physical exercise and healthy eating habits a part of your vision? Home. What living situation do you want to create? Material Things. What things would you like to own or have in your life? People. Who else is in this picture of your future vision? How are your relationships with friends, family, co-workers, community members, and others? Life Purpose. Your life has a unique purpose—fulfilled through what you do, your relationships, and the way you live. What is this purpose? Work. What would you like to create in terms of your career or profession? How much energy are you willing to spend to create this situation? How does your chosen work impact others? Community. How is the community a part of your life’s vision? What do you give to your community? What do you receive? Hobbies and Interests. What activities, hobbies, or interests will complete this picture? What Else? What else could you create or have in your life? Goal Setting Step #2: Vision Board Writing is a powerful tool to help process your thoughts and create goals. However, sometimes writing is not enough. Using images can reinforce goals and create a clear picture of what you want to achieve. One way to develop a strong mental picture if to create a dream board, also known as a vision board. To create a dream board, have clients cut out pictures from magazines that create a picture of their goals and glue or tape to cardboard or corkboard. They can hang their dream board where they can see it every day. As they combine actions with this vision, they will be well on their way to making their goals a reality. Developing a 30 Second Commercial After your client has developed clear goals and a vision for their future, they can begin to develop a personal sales pitch. Developing the ability to describe what skills and talents they bring to the workplace can help them land a job. The commercial will help the listener quickly become aware of the client's interests and talents. Remember to write the word that best describes your skills and attitudes. This commercial is a thirty-second chance for your clients to shine! Tips for developing your commercial: Use crisp, clear language Say what position you are seeking Talk about your abilities and experience Emphasize your individual strengths Use good eye contact and body posture Samples of sentences to help you write your commercial: Hello, my name is… I am a… I am passionate about... My strongest skills are… Preparing For the Interview Interviews can be stressful. Clients only have a few minutes to showcase their personality and skills to an employer. The interviewer isn't just evaluating WHAT they say, but also HOW they say it -- nonverbal communication is important. Tips to help clients prepare for their interviews: Do a mock interview several days before your scheduled interview. Practice more than once. Remind clients to lay out clothing the night before. They don't want to figure out what to wear on the day of the interview. Clients should make sure their outfit is clean and neatly pressed and should take care of other tasks the night before (polishing shoes, nails, etc.) Clients should also gather all of the important materials that they will need—put them in a folder or portfolio. Place them where they won’t forget them. Include things like a resume, letter of reference, directions, identification cards, etc. Interview Do’s and Don’ts for Clients: DO -- Arrive 10-15 minutes early to show eagerness and have a chance to get a feel for the environment. Greet the interviewer with a smile and a handshake. Answer the question thoroughly. Write a thank-you note within 48 hours of the interview. Maintain good eye contact. Ask questions about the job and organization to show your interest. Show some knowledge of the company, position, and career field. DON’T -- Chew gum. Smoke prior to your interview. Interrupt the interviewer. Look at your watch during the interview. This tends to hurry things along. Let the interviewer set the pace. Talk negatively about former employers, co-workers, or professors. Common Interview Questions: Preparing some responses in advance can help clients be more relaxed during the interview. Below are common interview questions to think about. Tell me about yourself? Why should we hire you? What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness? Why are you leaving or why have you left your job? What are your salary expectations? Why do you want this job? How do you handle stress and pressure? Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it? What are your goals for the future? Clients should note that they may be asked interview questions for which they cannot think of an answer. The important thing is to remain calm, honest, and try to stay positive. Clients should be encouraged to utilize a self-regulation technique to help keep focus during a stressful interview. Dress For Success As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. The way you dress is one of the first things that a potential employer will notice about you. Of course, you want to make the best impression possible. Nonverbal factors play a big role with employers -- a firm handshake, eye contact, body language, posture, listening skills, clothing, and grooming all make a difference. Clothes do not “make the person” but they do convey your commitment to professionalism. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to overcome a poor first impression, regardless of your skills or unique qualities, so clients should be thoughtful when preparing their outfits for an interview. If they come to an interview dressed professionally and in an outfit that makes them feel good about themselves, they will project a sense of confidence that others will sense.
  • Succeeding at Work
    Positive Attitudes and Behaviors Cultivating positive attitudes and behaviors are fundamental to succeeding at work. Discuss the following questions and tips for developing positivity. Discussion Questions: How do you think we end up with the attitudes we have? Do you know more people who look at life as mostly good or mostly bad? Which do you enjoy being with most? Why? It is possible to change our attitudes? If so, how difficult is it? Share the following Tips with Clients to Improve Positive Attitudes and Behaviors - Affirm yourself: Learn to focus on your good qualities and all the positive things you do. Improve yourself: Continue your education, learn a new skill, read a book, take a course, join a health club, meet new people. Do something that will challenge you and help you feel as if you have accomplished something new. Assume responsibility for your own thoughts and actions: It’s easy to blame others. Remember that we only have the power to control and change our own behavior. Responsibility can be interpreted as “ the ability to choose your response ” Set realistic goals: Sometimes our expectations of ourselves are so high that we can’t achieve them. Be careful not to take on too much at once and end up not achieving anything. Behave according to your own good personal values and standards: Stand up for what you know is right. Maintain good health: Wellness is much more than physical health. Remember the mind, body, and spirit connection. Healthy behavior includes an optimistic outlook and a good sense of humor. Plan your day as if it will be positive: Even if you know that you will face some challenging issues and/or people during your day, try to see yourself handling these situations in a positive manner. Try to see the glass as half full not half empty. When replaying your day, focus on your accomplishments: Give yourself a break—our tendency is to focus on our mistakes and overlook our accomplishments. Focus on the positive things that happened during your day. Professional Behavior Under Pressure Flexibility is one of the keys to success. Adjusting to difficult situations while maintaining a good attitude is a way to demonstrate flexibility and professional behavior under pressure. There will be times at work when clients may be asked to do a task that is outside the scope of their regular duties. Or, there may be times when their work environment becomes very busy and they feel overwhelmed. Discuss the following scenario with clients and provide tips for staying positive under pressure. Professional Behavior Under Pressure Scenario: It is your first week in a new job! You have learned your work routine and feel very confident. Your regular job is greeting clients as they enter your department and directing them to the right place. Because your co-worker is sick, your manager has asked you to answer the phones and make appointments. You are uncomfortable with this change in your routine, so you… Tell the manager that it’s not your job. Discuss the procedure with the manager, clarify your understanding, ask for tips for doing the job, and then try your best to do everything that is expected. Do what the manager asks but complain to everyone about how much work you had to do! Discuss your client's answer and provide feedback. Positive Self-Talk Displaying a professional attitude and confidence on the job begins with how you speak to yourself. Have clients select a few positive mantras that they can say to themselves throughout the day. Talk to yourself in a positive way Give yourself a pep talk: “I am capable and lovable” I know I can do this! I deserve good things to happen to me I am in charge of me; I can control my responses Speak to yourself with respect I am a good person What a great job! I know I made a mistake, but I can and will do better Be honest with yourself- set goals for improvement That was not my best effort, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now. If I try harder, I can do better After one week, I will check to see if my work has improved Self-Regulation: Relax the body to relax the mind Self-regulation skills help to manage stress. Self-regulation is about being mindful of your body. Trauma and stress increase the fight, flight, or freeze response. Our mind perceives this and interprets it as proof that danger is near. When we relax the body, the mind receives a signal that danger has lessened. Whether there is danger out there or not, there will be times when your client will begin to feel very stressed or upset at their workplace. Helping them learn quick ways to relax their body will help them relax their mind. As you are working with clients on this skill, it might be helpful to share a personal example of a time you had difficulty self-regulating. Example: “I remember a time when a supervisor criticized a decision I made. I was very angry because I didn’t think she understood what I was saying. I got so mad that I eventually stopped talking and just sat there upset. I got up after our meeting and cried in the bathroom.” Exercise 1: Quick Body Scan This body scan technique is one that clients can learn to use many times throughout the day to promote emotional wellness, and can also be used in intense moments of emotional distress. Example Quick Body Scan: First, have your clients do a quick body scan by assessing muscle tension from head-to-toe and back, noticing which muscles are clenched. Instruct them to release all muscles from head to toe, wiggling if that helps. They should become a “wet noodle” and hold that relaxed position for five seconds: In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Follow-up by asking how they feel. Compare the feelings before and after. Ask them to think about what if any emotional changes they feel. This is a quick activity that only takes seconds to do. They should practice this every 15 minutes or so, even while busy at work. Exercise 2: Mindful Breathing You may already be familiar with the basics of mindful breathing - simply put, it is focusing your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale. You can do this anywhere - while standing, seated, or lying down. Your eyes may be open or closed. Clients should be encouraged to do mindful breathing throughout the day but it can also help to practice it when they’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious. When a client is feeling especially stressed or angry, it may help them to start by taking an exaggerated breath: a deep inhale through the nostrils (3 seconds), hold the breath (2 seconds), and a long exhale through the mouth (4 seconds). Otherwise, they should simply observe each breath without trying to adjust it; it may help to focus on the rise and fall of their chest or the sensation through their nostrils. As they do so, they may find that their mind wanders and becomes distracted. Let them know that this is normal and is OK. They can take note that this is happening and gently bring their attention back to their breath. Regular practice of mindful breathing can make it easier to do it in difficult situations. We suggest that your clients start practicing this technique 15 minutes a day so that it becomes routine. Developing a Good Work Ethic Employers want to hire people who are dependable. Developing a good work ethic requires honesty, reliability, and showing up to work on time. Under stress, it can be difficult to exhibit these traits. Below are exercises and discussion prompts to help clients explore their values and help build a plan for staying dependable even when times get tough. Work Ethics Exercise: Think of the roles and responsibilities you engage in on any given day. For example, you may have responsibilities as a parent, a worker, a student, a club member, a church member, or as a member of some type of team. Ask clients to answer the following question with these roles in mind then discuss the answer. What personal traits can you list that make you dependable in these roles? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Values and Workplace Ethics Our values represent our basic beliefs, which give us structure and help organize our lives. In the workplace, our values affect our behavior and interpersonal interactions so it’s important to clarify what they are. What are the foundations of good character? How do they help clients succeed at work? Five Foundations for Character: Foundation #1: Trustworthiness Be honest Be reliable Do what you say you will do Have the courage to do the right thing Build a good reputation Foundation #2: Respect Treat others with respect Respect differences Use appropriate language Be considerate of the feelings of others Deal peacefully with conflict and anger Foundation #3: Responsibility Do what you are responsible for Always do your best Be self-disciplined Think before you act Consider the consequences of your actions Foundation #4: Fairness Be open-minded Listen to others Don’t blame carelessly Foundation #5: Caring Be considerate Show that you care Express gratitude Help others Values and Workplace Ethics Exercise: Read the following scenario with clients and respond to the discussion questions. Scenario: You have been working for six months as a Patient Care Technician. You really enjoy this job and worked hard to get here. You feel that you are really good at your job and you are eager to do well. You just received new instructions from your supervisor for improving patient care, but your co-workers who are long term employees have told you not to follow the new policy and continue with the old. Your supervisor asked you to reassure patients that this new policy will improve the quality of their care. Your co-workers say that you should not change what you have been doing. What do you do?
  • Communication Skills
    Customer Service Skills Many of your clients will likely find jobs in the service industry, where strong customer service skills are vital. Helping clients strengthen the skills below will help them succeed in their jobs. Empathy Empathy means that clients are able to connect with and affirm a customer's feelings, even if they are unable to resolve the problem. Providing empathy in customer service means that clients allow the customer to feel heard by acknowledging their feelings. Problem-solving skills Great customer service means getting to the heart of problems immediately, then coming up with solutions. Patience Customer service reps will often find themselves on the front line against unhappy customers. The ability to stay calm and keep from taking things personally will help diffuse tense situations with angry customers. Positive attitude Having a positive attitude is one of those customer service skills that are essential for all employees. Positive people are more enjoyable to be around. Plus, they’re more ready to solve problems and able to execute the next skill: Positive language. Positive language Those with positive attitudes are able to focus on solutions. Building on that, those who speak with positive language also speak in positive terms – they don’t mention the negatives. By using positive language, customer service managers can overcome a customer’s problem before they even knew they had one. Listening skills Even though a rep might face the same problem 15-to-20 times a day, it is imperative they still listen to each person and each call. Asking questions, taking notes, and avoiding interruptions are all excellent tactics to improve listening. Personal Responsibility We’re all human, and we make mistakes. Accepting responsibility for those mistakes and looking for ways to fix them is how you turn a negative to a positive. Tenacity and Resilience Most people only call customer service when they have a problem. This means that customer service reps are often faced with unhappy people non-stop throughout the day. Sometimes, it’s a simple problem to fix. Other times, not so much. Customer Service reps need the ability to deal with other people’s frustrations day in and day out, while still maintaining that positive attitude. The Ability to Let It Go Knowing how to let it go is an important skill. Those in customer support roles, such as call centers, often take the brunt of verbal abuse. People call up wanting to vent and have a source to dispel their anger. If clients are in a customer service role, they may need to periodically take a step back or a short break to engage in a mindful meditation focused on letting go. Accepting Criticism at Work No matter how well we do at work, it is inevitable that we will be faced with criticism from time to time. Clients need to be able to respond to criticism with grace and a willingness to grow. Engage in the following role-play and discussions to help clients build strategies for handling criticism. Role Play Directions: Two volunteers will act out the following scenario. Background/Set-Up: The team leader enters the room with a booklet in her hand. The employee is waiting in a chair and looks up at the team leader, with a startled look on her face. Team Leader: “Is this the report that you gave me to review?” Employee: “Yes, I put it on your chair before I left yesterday. Have you had a chance to read it?” Team Leader: “I can’t believe that you gave me this report!” First I couldn’t read it because of all of the typos and secondly you didn’t follow any of my directions!” This is the worst report that I have ever received in my ten years in this hospital! I need you to redo this thing before you leave today! Discussion 1. How would you react to the criticism provided in the scenario? What do you think is the right way to handle the situation? 2. How might the criticism receive affect the way they felt about themselves? 3. How might the team leader’s tone and body language affect your response? 4. How is asking someone to do something different than telling someone to do something? Which do you prefer? 5. What are some of the factors that affect how you feel about taking directions from others? Factors like their age, race, seniority, personality, etc.? In general, when is it appropriate to try to figure something out for yourself and when is it appropriate to ask questions? Who do you ask? Are you afraid of asking a question that you think is stupid? Do you think that asking too many questions will make you look bad? Managing Conflicts in the Workplace Conflicts at work are common. It can be expressed in a variety of ways - from insults to noncooperation. Personalities may clash and misunderstanding can arise. Conflicts can be stressful so it is important for clients to learn how to resolve conflicts and how to manage the stress that arises. Tips For Resolving Conflicts With Others: When clients are having a conflict with someone, they should consider using the following strategy: Identify the problem. Identify the person you are having trouble with. Figure out the specific behavior or attitude that is bothering you and how frequently it occurs. Look at the relationships. Examine how the person interacts with others. Is it similar to the way s/he interacts with you? What makes him/her act that way? Figuring out the causes of someone's behavior helps point the way toward possible solutions. Determine the costs. How does that behavior affect others? Does it cause people to lose morale? Does it affect productivity? Does it make everyone uncomfortable? Plan an approach. Once you identify that the person's behavior does affect you and others, you need to have a discussion with the person. Plan an approach that fits the nature of the problem, the personality of the person involved, and your relationship with that person. Describe the behavior. When you do meet with that person describe the behavior in a non- accusatory manner and explain why it bothers you. Use "I" statements. For example, "Today during the meeting when I was talking about the budget and you interrupted me before I had finished my sentence, I felt really cut down." State what you want. Next, be clear about what you want. "I hope that the next time I talk that I won't get interrupted". Seek agreement: Be sure the person understands and try to get a commitment to change. "Do you see things the same way that I do?"
  • Working in a Diverse Workplace
    Strengthening client’s ability to work well in a diverse environment can give them an edge. Valuing and respecting differences makes for more successful working relationships and more enjoyable work experience. In the workplace, diversity refers to the differences we recognize in other and ourselves, such as: Gender Culture Race Ethnicity Age Religion Sexual orientation Physical and mental abilities or challenges Diversity can also be used to describe differences relating to our workplace relationships, such as: Management vs. non-management Main office/headquarters vs. field/satellite offices Technical vs. non-technical Employees with families vs. single employees Dimensions of Diversity Exercise: Valuing and respecting differences in the workplace begins with individual self-awareness. It is up to each of us to take a deep look into our feelings and beliefs so that we can understand how we can open our minds and change our behaviors to more effectively value the diversity around us. Directions: During this exercise, clients will have an opportunity to think about their belief systems, and try to identify how they were formed. How has their family or others influenced their attitudes about cultural differences? Some of their beliefs may be based on how they were raised or their own experiences. Have your clients look at the Dimensions of Diversity Model above and answer these questions: 1. Which of the dimensions of diversity are a part of your core identity? Which of the dimensions would be part of your inner circle? Write the three most important things in the space below: _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Now think about yourself at work. What are the two or three special contributions that you would bring to the workplace because of your own unique diversity? In what way would these contributions make the workplace better? _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Tips for Improving Relationships in a Diverse Workplace: Communication: Utilize all aspects of effective communication, including words, body language, eye contact. Practice conscious self talk to change old assumptions about differences. Key skills are openness, active listening, and respectful language. Think before you speak: Be sensitive to others. If you accidentally offend someone, apologize immediately. Avoid generalizations. Key skills: avoid using words, images, and situations that suggest that all or most members of a particular group are the same. Listen more: When people feel that they are being heard, it increases their self-esteem and confidence. Listening encourages people to be less defensive and talk through concerns or problems. People are more likely to cooperate with a person who listens. For additional skill-building focused on diversity and inclusion, this short video OUCH - That Stereotype Hurts, is a must-see. Click here to watch. The CLARA Technique – A Tool for Effectively Negotiating World View Differences Gandhi taught that one of the things that make nonviolence work is that “everyone has a piece of the truth.” Training yourself to look for and find that truth can help to make space for different perspectives and connect with others regardless of their world view. This may change your life in unexpected ways. All of us have hot buttons in the back of our minds. When these buttons get pushed, conversations often get heated. By using the CLARA technique, we respect each other’s differences so we can have more meaningful connections and resolve conflict effectively. The Steps of the Technique: Calm Internally calm yourself sufficiently to… Listen To exactly what the other person is saying Affirm Say something that acknowledges one “piece of the truth” you can honestly recognize in the person’s statement (not the reflection of active listening, but something you can genuinely acknowledge). Notice that the first “A” is “Affirm” not “Agree”—it’s not the same thing. What you’re really trying to find is the common ground you have with that person. Respond To the exact concerns the upset person raised when you were listening Add: Something about the way you see the topic that may not be the issue they raised Important! Never use “but” or “however” when you use CLARA. “But” or “however” invalidates the idea that “everyone has a piece of the truth” Use “and” or “at the same time” instead Final Comments: Like any tool you learn as a formula, it can seem forced and unnatural Your partner, friends, and coworkers may ask you to stop and talk to them “like a human being” As you practice, CLARA can become a part of your language and authentic self. CLARA Method Scenario Ask clients to think about something that a coworker or supervisor could say that would trigger them. What is the statement/situation? Have them describe it briefly to you or write it down. Use the steps and questions below to practice using the CLARA Method - Calm: What steps will they take to relax their body? What will they do to calm themself? Assess your reactions and emotions Prepare yourself for the conversation Calm yourself, breathe and relax your body Listen: What do they hear the other person say? What is the meaning behind the person’s words? Intentionally listen to the speaker for something that you understand What is the person really saying? Practice active listening and attentive, nonjudgmental body language Affirm: What can they say to show that they understand and relate to some aspect of what the person is saying? Say something that acknowledges that you can relate to at least one viewpoint of the person’s statement; that you “get” what they are experiencing. Consider what in your experiences can help you understand what the person is saying even though the situation may not be the same. Remember that all of us hold “a piece of truth.” Remember that you share common ground even though it may not feel like that at the moment. Your common humanity, if you cannot connect with anything else, is firm common ground. Remember that when we feel heard and affirmed, we are generally more receptive to feedback and less defensive. Respond: What can they share from their perspective that connects with the issue at hand? Perhaps there is something in your lives that helps you to understand how the other person is feeling. REMEMBER! Never use “but” or “however” when you use CLARA. “But” or “however” invalidates the idea that “everyone has a piece of the truth.” Use “and” or “at the same time”. Add: What new piece of information can they share that the other person can think about? Share your perspective with the person with the intent of reframing or showing the person another way of thinking about or understanding the issue. Remember to continue to practice intentionally attentive, nonverbal communication.
  • Staff Resilience
    Being a workforce development professional can be extremely rewarding but it can also be a source of stress. Supporting clients, many of whom have experienced trauma, can take a toll on your mental health. It is important that you take care of yourself and build your resilience. Resilience exists when a person can bounce back and thrive. Work often tests resilience by placing us in stressful situations. Resilience is a key element in well-being. Resilience is associated with greater job satisfaction, work happiness, organizational commitment, and employee engagement. Strengthening resilience contributes to improved self-esteem, a sense of control over life events, a sense of purpose in life, and improved employee interpersonal relationships. When Stress is High, Strengthen Resilience! 65% of US employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. The likelihood of developing depression or anxiety is higher for those who work in stressful work environments. Stressful work environments can lead to negative physical and mental health outcomes for employees and organizations. Alcohol and substance misuse has been linked to employees experiencing high-stress levels. Initiatives and programs that foster a resilient and mentally healthy workplace increase productivity, lower healthcare costs, lower absenteeism and decrease turnover. Staff can strengthen resilience by learning the Three Antibodies for Compassion Fatigue - Self-Regulation, Reframing, and Self-Care. 1. Self-Regulation - Relax the body to relax the mind When we perceive a threat, real or imagined, the Sympathetic Nervous System activates. Our bodies are sent into a fight, flight or freeze mode. Our impulse control is weakened and we lose the ability to problem solve and use rational thought. You can benefit from the same skills you teach clients! Incorporate the Body Scan and Mindful Breathing from the Succeeding at Work section into your daily routine. 2. Reframing - Intentionally change the perception Supporting clients can be challenging. When you are having an especially tough day, it can help to think about the promise you made to yourself when you became a workforce development professional. You can keep this promise to yourself by remembering to reframe your perspective and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can under stressful circumstances. Try the Great Supervisor Email Exercise below - Exercise: Dear Supervisor Email or Text: Take five minutes to write an email or a text to yourself. The message is from a Great Supervisor, the ideal supervisor that notices every good thing you did today at work and praises you for it. Think of at least two effective things you did this week and allow your Great Supervisor to give them credit for each. Try this exercise today! 3. Self-care - Refuel and access support Self-care gives us the fuel we need to keep going. One of the most powerful techniques for healing anxiety and secondary traumatic stress is by putting it into words and sharing (unloading) this narrative with someone “safe”. This is something that needs to happen periodically throughout our careers. Each of us needs someone to listen to our stories of caregiving. Someone who will listen and understand. Dare to Trust (social self-care) Find a person in your life to be your support. Tell them how you want them to listen to you when you come to them for support. Reach out to them when you need someone to listen to you when you are facing something difficult. Personal Self-Care Make a list of 2 to 3 things to do today to refuel and commit to them. It may be calling a partner to hear ‘I love you,’ or humming your favorite song. It may be looking at a picture of your family, friend, child or seeing the beauty of something we take for granted (a tree, breathing, tasty food, warmth of the sun) _____________________________ References A Workforce Development Professional's Guide Job Readiness Instructor's Guide East Baltimore Pipeline Job Readiness Training Curriculum
bottom of page