Smile!

Yes, it’s a cliché, but the fact remains that, in working with people and their problems, we are likely to get better results if we smile. Smiling gives a clear message to the effect of ‘I am pleased to be in your company’ while not smiling can give the message that we are not pleased to be in that person’s company. Of course, we don’t want to go overboard and come across as insincere, but smiling really can make a big difference. Sounds obvious? Not worth saying? Just watch people around you and see how often people interact with one another without smiling. You’ll see that lots of opportunities to make a positive connection are being missed.

Take account of trauma

The term ‘trauma’ is often used in a very loose and ‘watered down’ way to refer to any difficult or distressing situation. However, in its technical sense, trauma refers to a wound (physical or psychological) that has lasting effects. We are now realizing more fully that so many of the mental health problems that people encounter are linked to earlier experiences of one or more traumas. Indeed, difficulties in life more broadly will often have their roots in trauma. So, if we are working with people in any sort of supportive or supervisory way, we would do well to ask ourselves whether trauma is playing any part in the situation – particularly those situations that are proving problematic or challenging in some way.