I pray you are all well. I just wanted to take a few minutes to offer some recommendations and insights (based on my experience) in hopes that they will add to your experience with the clients we serve.
Setting the Tone & Rhythm
As you all know, we started our third phase of clients out with group zoom sessions. We conducted 5 and it has paid off in terms of opening the clients up faster and breaking the ice. This approach accomplished a few goals:
1. Provided an example for newer mentors - not that you all have to do things my way, but just to give an example of how to approach things like a conversation.
2. Built on the group setting and inspired the youngsters to share more openly - kids feed off kids and don't like to be singled out in a group setting. By engaging in a group forum to start out, everyone had some skin in the game - so to speak.
3. Familiarized everyone with everyone - this made the transition from group engagement to mentor-mentee engagement much easier because names, faces, and voices were already familiar.
With those group engagements, the tone has been set for how the sessions will flow. Building on these notions, the desired rhythm that allows us to move through the modules quickly and maximize the one-on-one time is as follows:
1. First 15 minutes, review answers to the previous week's modules and homework from the google doc and get insights they have to share.
2. Next segment (15 - 20 minutes) introduces the next module and the purpose of the module. The object is to give them insights, instructions, and suggestions on how to approach completing the module.
What I've found is that once I established this rhythm with the client, it becomes automatic and the zooms flow seamlessly. The expectations have been set, the work is clearly defined, and the client is eager to participate. Zoom sessions can be completed in 45 minutes and even if they last longer, I found that the engagement is of a higher impact and quality because they are tuned in to what is being transmitted.
Moving Beyond the Introduction
As we work towards building a better rapport with our clients, I've found that it is easier to progress past the introduction if we take a few minutes at the beginning of the first official zoom and address the issue that brought us all together in the first place. Given that it is naturally a difficult conversation to have with a somewhat familiar stranger, lead with "let's get this out of the way" or "let us talk a little about the 800-pound elephant on the zoom." I've found that when this difficult conversation is talked about in the beginning, it does two things:
1. It relieves the pressure. Nobody likes to feel like their mistakes are hanging over their head or getting ambushed with an off-subject reminder of wrongdoing in the middle of a conversation. It really helps to get it out in the open (in a non-threatening non-accusatory way) so the client feels comfortable sharing and understands that there is no judgment from you. Not addressing the mistake that was made in the beginning can lead to the client believing that it's OK to not account for their errors and leaves the door open. Close the door with accountability.
2. It lays a foundation for the healing process to begin. Explain to them that the reason to get it out of the way is so that you can get to the part where you learn from one another. Don't forget to share an experience (or two, or three) where you made a mistake and had to overcome it so that they can relate. Also, ask them what they will or are doing to make things right. Then, let it go without dwelling on it for too long. Then get to the healing.
Each time I did this, the client automatically acknowledged their mistake and that they wanted to atone for it. In most cases, they had already apologized and committed to turning things around but that additional layer of accountability serves to solidify that commitment to change in their minds. Some were silent and required a little more coaxing, but even then, they came around rather quickly.
Maximizing Each Engagement
An hour is not a lot of time so we have to maximize the time we have with each client. Some techniques I've been using are to give homework with each module outside of (but related to) the worksheets. These types of activities provide a challenge for them and force them out of their comfort zones which are healing in and of itself. Get the client to clip pictures online, research youtube for videos and search google for answers to your questions and place the links on the google doc. The idea is to be engaged with them outside of the zoom session. These activities also instill a sense of ownership of their own healing, redemption, and growth.
I pray that these insights strike the right chord with each of you and help to spark some thought and innovation with how you all handle your zoom sessions. The most important thing to bear in mind is that we are just having conversations with a niece or nephew in the human family. We are in control and have the authority of the courts backing us so let's take advantage of that. Be creative. Push yourselves and the client beyond comfort zones so that we collectively harness the blessings God has placed in our paths.
When time allows, please take 15 minutes to review this video I found about
Enjoy and God Bless!