What a week of adaptive conversations I’ve had during my Northern #NHSSafeguarding odyssey. On Tuesday in Wolverhampton, I was humbled when listening to Nicola about her family’s journey as she lost her son Rasheed to radicalisation and how she knew during a phone call that would be the last time she would hear her son’s voice ………….
On Wednesday in Manchester I met the awesome JaneW. She is a nurse who is trying to get her colleagues to discuss safeguarding issues. Her own lived-experience of domestic violence has meant she is a thriver, not a survivor or victim....................
On Thursday I had the huge privilege of listening to Peter from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. Peter had been abused by an older relative, a priest at school before being passed to others to be abused. His brother had also suffered at their hands six years before him. His brother died of alcohol disease and John has made it his mission-in-life to support others who are impacted by sexual abuse in childhood. My take away message was Listen, Believe, Do Something
Why were these adaptive conversations which have all affected my own understanding of safeguarding?
Nicola, Jane and Peter are not a number - they profiled their personal narrative;
Nicola, Jane and Peter are not a data point - they had adapted their powerful dialogue; Nicola, Jane and Peter are not an academic study - they are brave enough to tell their own story.
Nicola, Jane and Paul are amongst of lived-experience people who have chosen a path of sharing their lived-experience, as an adaptive conversation, to make their families, their communities and our NHS a bit better for others.
Here are the 10 tips for adaptive conversation:
1. Know your purpose
First and foremost, it's important to figure out why you are having the conversation. Your intentions should be more than simply to "get something off your chest," which implies a one-sided dialogue. Instead, they should include the other person, too, and your shared reasons for having the conversation.
2. Know your goal
Knowing your goal goes hand in hand with knowing your purpose, but focuses on the outcomes of the conversation. Outline what you hope to achieve from the discussion and your reasons for it.
3. Preparation is key
Once you've worked out your purpose and your goal, think about a few key messages that will help you convey them. Also give some thought to your conversation partners' likely reactions and how you will deal with them. That does not mean writing a script, however. You should be able to respond as the conversation develops — the other person's response might just surprise you.
4. Stay on message
Once you're ready to have the conversation, make sure you stay true to those key messages and don't let yourself be derailed by the other person's emotions or reactions.
5. Listen actively
Keep an eye out for what is being communicated both verbally and non-verbally. For example, does their body language match what they are saying? Always remember listen and silent have the same letters for a reason. When responding, make sure you take the whole picture into account.
6. Ask questions and be curious
Gain a better understanding of their point of view by asking questions. Open questions are best for drawing out insightful responses, while "why" questions can provoke defensiveness and should be avoided.
7. Show empathy
Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and be empathetic to their feelings. Avoid talking about yourself and your experiences and focus on the impact of the situation for them specifically.
8. Be open-minded
Try to approach the conversation with an open mind. If you're harbouring negative feelings then it's far less likely to result in a positive outcome. Plus, there's always a chance that you could be wrong.
9. Recognise their right
Understand that they have a right to be angry, upset, frustrated or emotional about your comments, especially if you have given critical feedback or unwelcome news. Sometimes the most valuable outcome from a difficult conversation can be giving the other person the opportunity to express themselves and feel heard.
10. Know that the end of the conversation is not the end
Finally, make sure you're available to deal with the possible fallout from the conversation. If you can't be, you should perhaps think twice about having it.
Thanks again for reading my reflections.
Kenny Gibson, Head of Safeguarding NHS England