It was far easier in the hunter-gatherer days when we just had fierce man-eating creatures to contend with. The basic flight or fight reflex worked pretty well when confronted with a bear, a lion or a sabre-toothed tiger. But now in our working lives many of us must confront some altogether different beasts – we are up against people who are angry, entitled, violent, drunk, drug-affected or just plain rude.
In recent years things have become a whole lot less civil. Retail workers, nurses and hospitality staff all report the growing strain of having to deal with threatening behaviour. Teachers are bullied by parents, emergency line call takers are frequently abused by callers and journalists face growing dangers worldwide (even the US president wants to body slam them).
It would be great if none of us had to deal with this horrible behaviour. Baristas shouldn’t face temper tantrums just because some impatient man-child in a suit is late for a meeting. Call centre workers shouldn’t have to put up with racist tirades, just because they have an accent. And as much as I dislike parking tickets, I’d like to see a world where parking officers could go to work without worrying about being intimidated, threatened or spat on.
Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. As such, we need to teach workers skills to help them manage difficult situations and become more resilient.
While specific training is required to maintain safety and de-escalate situations, RAW Mind Coach provides some very practical strategies for workers who must deal with the difficult thoughts and emotions which such confrontations inevitably trigger.
In heated situations, it’s entirely normal for the reactive mind to take over. When threatened, adrenaline fills the body, the heart pumps faster and we are naturally primed to fight or flee. Most roles however require a very different response. After all, we can’t just go beating up customers or sprinting down the street every time someone gets angry. Instead workers need to be able to quickly access the part of the brain which delivers higher level thought and rational decision making.
RAW Mind Coach teaches people the meta-awareness to register when their reactive mind is taking over and provides a number of simple strategies which they can use to engage the brain’s fabulous frontal lobes. This vital ability can prove the difference between a swift resolution and an ugly full-blown incident.
Of course, it’s not only in the heat of the moment that these skills are important. Once the immediate danger is averted, the brain may not be ready to switch back into a state of blissful calm. It’s more likely that the reactive mind will replay the scenario over and over again, frantically trying to problem-solve an event that has already passed. During RAW Mind Coach learners discover how to process and let go of difficult thoughts, uncomfortable emotions and situations which are outside their sphere of influence. They also discover how to return their focus to the present moment and release the tension which can easily build up in the body.
Most importantly, learners are able to develop their own personalised action plan, so they will know exactly what to do following one of those really ‘full-on’ days on the job. A vital part of this plan is self-compassion. Simple, small acts such as taking a hot bath, going for a walk in nature or spending some time stretching can support people in recovering from a difficult day. As part of their action plan learners can also select their favourite guided mindfulness exercises to listen to and determine which friends, colleagues or professionals they will reach out to for support.
In all sorts of roles workers now face very serious psychological stresses. Thankfully many employers are beginning to take notice and take action. Already RAW Mind Coach is being used by teachers, emergency service personnel, medical professionals, journalists, call centre staff, retail workers and others in a wide variety of very demanding roles.
Of course, it would be fantastic if we could wake up to a world where everyone is kind and thoughtful in their interactions with others. Unfortunately, we need to wake up to a much harsher reality. All workers can be exposed to serious psychological stressors. The very least we can do is equip them with the right skills and coping strategies, to build resilience, prevent suffering and help them through all those really difficult days on the job.
If you would like to discover more about RAW Mind Coach or register your interest please contact us.