Friday, February 8, 2013

Shame Part 3- Disconnecting

Anyone who has been involved in "professional helping" has had clients disconnect. Sometimes it is a conscious choice; they find they do not need help anymore, do not find the help of value, no longer can afford it, or have met all their goals.

However, sometimes I think people disconnect from their support systems slowly, by accident, and then feel too ashamed or embarrassed about reconnecting.

I remember this happening with a massage therapist I was seeing for a back problem, a long time ago. I remember missing one appointment, and then missing another. I remember feeling ashamed about this, and then somehow that embarrassment grew to the point where I could not possibility ever contact her again. The same thing happened in my Egyptian civilization class when I was a freshman in college (but, I forgive myself for that one, great material, horribly boring teacher!).

I have seen this with some of my coaching clients, and also people I have mentored over the years. I can almost feel the shame when they recontact me; they are so tentative, so fearful.

And my response? I just feel glad to hear from them. It is important to make people feel welcomed back, to allow people to reconnect. When we are on the other side of things, when we are the one that is ashamed, we imagine the worst. Usually, however, people are just glad to hear from us. This is important to remember.

Yet, how to connect to those who have "left."  I want to walk the fine line between being a support, challenging the type of disconnection that often is a huge part of people's writing problems, but also respect people's privacy and choice. I think I need to develop some sort of personal and professional policy for this. Any suggestions? I posted about this a bit last week, but wanted to follow up more directly and connect it to some of our past discussions.

1 comment:

  1. I have experienced something similar, although in a different context (when I am collecting articles for a joint volume on X): people start not answering to emails/not writing and then feel embarrassed to get back into the project, although they might want it. My strategy in such cases is: I keep on including these "lost sheep" when I write emails to the whole group, so that they feel still part of it. Then, I write emails which seem to be addressed to many people, although they are aimed to them only ("I have still not received some papers, please consider sending me your contribution in the next two months"). I also try to lower the bar ("Send me a draft" —in your case, it could be an invitation to a seminar with other people instead of personal coaching). It usually helps.