We need to talk! A Convo on the Very Real Topic of Intention ≠ Impact in Conversations
The pandemic has kept us physically separated and emotionally drained. We miss the in-person daily interactions with colleagues, friends, and family, and in their place, we got added responsibilities, zoom gloom, and stress from our new reframed existence.
Educators are known to be the “cheerleaders” of students and their success. But since the pandemic, Educators felt compelled to accept the extra responsibilities of being the stable mental and academic support to students. After all – that’s what Educators do! But despite 69 percent of students saying college administrators and 78 percent of professors were supportive, 87 percent of educators felt the pandemic had made their jobs more difficult.
Over a year’s worth of virtual conversations and the collective grappling of this “new normal,” you’d think compassionate language would seem like an obvious skill to learn. But how can we be supportive when our self-care is on the line? Minor stressors have become triggers, and often, not knowing what to say in times of stress has become a default in self-preservation.
In a quest to help other Educators (and ourselves) regain strength in supporting each other, URep Abroad’s staff, Shawntia and Dawn created a “Pay What You Can” (PWYC) webinar to find solutions. Here is how the conversation went down…
When did you realize there were challenges in communicating support?
I’ve worked my entire professional career in higher education. Even my degrees are in international ed or higher education. So suddenly, I found myself unemployed for almost a year and a half and questioning everything I thought I knew about myself. It was incredibly isolating.
Exactly! I realized the struggle was real while texting with my IE friends and kept finding myself without words. Which is odd. Anyone that knows me knows I’m a person who cares deeply about others and wants to connect and be there for them. I’d receive text messages about job loss, workplace stress, enormous workloads, and struggles with work/life balance.
I’ve most definitely been one of those texters who shared about my job loss and my struggles to find work. One day I realized I had no idea what I expected from those people. Was I simply looking for leads? Did I want pity? I had no idea, and it forced me to refocus on myself to figure it out.
And for me, all the ways in which I connected with colleagues and friends (i.e., conferences, in-person meetings, retreats, travel, etc) were suddenly removed. Somedays, I was fine inside my bubble. Other days, it felt isolating as well, and alone.
How has going through one+ years of COVID changed how you communicate with others?
I use to be the person that said, “Oh, don’t worry, you’re awesome, another job will come your way,” or “Hang in there, you got this! [insert emoji].” Now, I realize those blanket statements were rather empty. It took me going through the process of not having job opportunities and receiving those same messages to recognize, “ouch,” I was an “inefficient” communicator, not really a compassionate one. I owed it to myself and all the people I respected and cared about to be better. To show up for them!