I was sat with a friend having a relaxing cream tea, both of us sharing how nice it is to have achieved a point in our lives when we have a bit more freedom and time for a little self-indulgence. The cream tea was a treat towards the end of a busy week – hey- you need a good work/life balance and to treat yourself on occasion! We started to talk about the rather scrumptious scones we were just about to tuck in to when I asked her, are you jam first or cream first? This is the age-old quandary between Devon and Cornwall in terms of the right way to eat one. She looked at me rather surprised, not having heard of this before. We decided in the end to eat one of the rather small delights with cream first and the other with jam first, just so we didn’t offend any on lookers.
So why I am talking about scones and the way to eat them? To many it would really seem of no consequence, to others it may be something that really matters. We need to know what is important to individuals, to know what drives them and what matters if we really want to engage with them. We may not be able to always provide someone with the outcome they are looking for, but, by being curious in our conversation with them we are able to connect with them, acknowledge their values and beliefs and instil an approach that everyone is worth listening to, wanting to truly hear and understand their perspective.
One of the core TWBC values is that “everyone is worth hearing, we amplify quiet voices”. Not everyone may be forthcoming with regard to their thoughts, feelings and preferences however it doesn’t mean to say they don’t have them. Finding ways of providing people with an opportunity to be heard can be a challenge but continue to be innovative in seeking out peoples’ voices and it can be surprising, valuable and rewarding.
Back to cream teas, it’s very simple – you give people the choice by offering them cream and jam on the side – no assumptions made about their preference in enjoying the delight. They then choose how they would like to enjoy the experience by helping themselves. Such a simple way to enable someone to express themselves and be heard.
Sharon Outhwaite – The Wellbeing Collective