This holiday season I am thinking about what gimmicky public relations idea I have to share with you. I remember my section being called public relations. I do have some suggestions that I will share with you but what has been on my mind recently is Preparation being great PR.
During this Advent season I have been thinking about preparing to be a doula; I mean readying myself to serve the women who come to me. We are all doing that now through reading, experience with clients, workshops, book reviews, networking, sharing, and so forth. I want to share a poem with you that I found in the ALACE manual. It says:
What is Support?
Support is unconditional. It is listening, not judging, not telling your own story.
Support is not offering advice. It is offering a touch, a hug, a tissue...caring.
We are here to listen...not to work miracles.
We are here to help women discover what they are feeling...not to make the feelings go away.
We are here to help a woman identify her options to choose.
We are here to discuss steps with a woman...not to take steps for her.
We are here to help a woman discover her own strength...not to rescue her and leave her still vulnerable.
We are here to help a woman discover she can help herself...not to take responsibility for her.
We are here to help a woman learn to choose...not to make it unnecessary for her to make difficult choices.
I believe a great part of Preparation is making time to listen. To listen to the Holy Spirit to guide you...and to listen to the women you serve. We all have much to share with the women we serve but I have found that when I listen to women, I can hear them and help guide them into finding their own path. We do not have to do the work for them. We can benefit from listening to where a woman is at and offer guidance (through books, websites, experience, referral) to help them get to where they want to be.
I was a peer counselor in high school. The program was led by a wonderful social worker named Ron Dow. He focused on Active Listening as a skill to help others recognize their alterntatives and make decisions. It can be helpful for a woman who is planning to birth or for improving communication between couples. Most of us do not feel that we have truly been listened to for even 10 minutes a week. The art of listening is fading. The following are some of the active listening roles. Be careful, using these active listening skills can become patronizing if not used with sincere compassion and empathy. Reflective listening (see definition below) is important because the listener is tapping into the feelings of the speaker.
Active Listening Skills
Paraphrasing means to state in your own words your understanding of what has just been said.
Clarifying means asking questions until you are both confident that you have understood.
Feedback. This part of the listening process involves sharing what happened inside you, your thoughts and feelings, with the speaker.
Reflective listening. Another important variation on giving feedback is "reflecting" back the feeling content that you hear the speaker share. (from this link -- see more on reflective listening and empathy) There are many definitions of active listening. I also like the discussion at this link under "Listening as a way to help another person, sometimes called "cathartic" listening."
To listen to someone is to hear them, let them know you heard them, and offer insight and guidance if appropriate.
Okay, so back to the public relations ideas. Give your clients gifts for the holidays that have your message on them. You can use pictures, logos, verses, scripture, song, color, sayings...whatever. These can be put on T-shirts, infant shirts, cloth bags, cloth squares. You want it visible! Print out your message on T-shirt transfers (you can buy a pack at WalMart or Office Depot near the printer labels) and iron onto cloth. My favorite birth saying right now is "Peace on Earth begins with Birth" - how appropriate for this season, and for the state of affairs with our international neighbors.
Happy Holidays, Christy.