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My Style and the Way it Bites Me in the Butt Sometimes

Posted Mar 24 2012 9:43am
Yesterday I taught the Adoption Competency class and realized something about myself. I have a particular teaching and writing style that isn't always easiest to live with -- for me, for my superiors, and even for the participants of my trainings or the readers of my blog or books.

I tend to make extreme comments, sometimes reflecting bias, that engage people and get them thinking. I say things that are a mile away from where some people are to move them an inch. I often will frustrate people on purpose in order to get their attention and then deal with the fallout because engaging them, waking them up, and pulling them into the conversation is more important than me keeping myself out of trouble.

When I was sick I found myself doing this less. The main reason was that I didn't have the emotional energy to withstand the fallout of being misunderstood and the chances of making the wrong people angry and the things I would have to do to try to explain myself. So I was very careful to do things "by the book" when I trained and on my blog I barely had energy to type entries about how little energy I had, which had to have bored you to tears.

But now that I am back and have some energy I did just dive in with my last post on RTCs and most likely was more offensive than I intended to be. I even had a couple people read through that post to make sure it wasn't too harsh before I hit "Publish Post" but it still came across that way to some of you who I would hate to offend because I have a lot of respect for them.

I wonder if this isn't something that a lot of people go through in the adoption field as they get older. They may start their careers like me -- with all kinds of ideas, making risky decisions, driven by child-focused passion and the desire to make a difference in the system. But gradually they get less and less motivated to put themselves out there and say and do things because they have to pay the price of the fallout again and again and again. And pretty soon, it's very difficult to approach things the same way.

I struggle against that every day in one way or another. Do I engage people, spout biases to see if they catch them, make far-out extreme statements that catch their attention and then walk around cleaning up messes I make? Or do I just start to say rehearsed things, proven by research, that will never offend anyone?

Do I make risky placements or approve a family because I have a feeling in my gut that this is a good family or the right family for a certain kind of child, or do I do things that will be easiest -- only approve home studies of families that have curb appeal, only place children who are guaranteed not to disrupt, or only submit cases to ICPC that will clear without a fight? The older and more tired I get the greater temptation I have to surrender to the system and behave myself.

My good friend Jodi, who is an awesome person, has this as her email signature
Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

I want to live like that, but I am feeling the pull at 48 to behave myself. Maybe I'm too old to make history. And I'm beginning to understand those who are not willing to pay the price any more to fight the status-quo.

Lord help me.
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