‘what would YOU do then?”

“If you don’t agree, how would YOU do it …?”

In rigid institutions I have worked, I remember the words “How would YOU do it?” being used as an expression of scorn rather than an invitation to improving workplace practice. One example that stands out was about the reporting system employed by one school I belonged to. When I pointed out that small, overpopulated tables were difficult for a dyscalculic such as myself to access, the senior leader snorted with derision. When I pointed out that if pupils had to work on such an overcrowded platform, we would provide support for those with additional need, she looked like I had just produced an alien out of my butt.

“But you’re an adult,” she sneered, “You should know better. How would you do it then?” and she shrugged and walked away, shaking her head with incredulity at my apparent stupidness.  

This was an attitude  I already knew. It echoed experiences of my family life growing up. At work as an adult, I was a ‘maverick’; at home as a teenager I was a ‘stupid boy.’ The working label was a politer way of the home label. The result of being repeatedly exposed to these attitudes has been that I now live with PTSD. All from mean and truculent responses to my moments of need.

During a departmental restructure years ago, I remember arguing for good practice, that would enable better wellbeing and stronger ethical practice . By the end of the conversation, and after my offerings were drowned out, tutted at, or ignored, it was impossible for me to do my job. One higher up said, “Well what did you think would happen?” as if my criticism was inconsistent with being a ‘team player.’

Maverick. It’s all I deserved.

Her words and made I experienced shame, much like the open palmed slap I once received from a parent, an incident which the adults in my family seemed to think was funny.

Stupid boy. It’s all I deserved.

There is a skill in being able to detect ethical ways of living. I see that now.

I am not maverick; I am not a stupid boy. As a transformational coach I now help others discover what is best about themselves. This helps them enrich their workplaces and enrich others’ lives. 

I was made to do this work.

#PTSD #UKEducation #Tranformationalcoaching 

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