© Anna Miller-Tiedeman 2001
Chapter 8 in Learning, Practicing, and Living the New Careering, p. 181, the practice chapter.
I start most of my presentations with what I call "owning of perceptual responsibility" exercise. I quote the scientist Ilya Prigogine who said, "We are part of nature and nature is part of us and we can recognize ourselves by the descriptions we give to it." So, I tell my group, "Whatever I do here today that you find pleasing or that you agree with, that's you, and whatever you don't like or whatever doesn't fit your paradigm, well, that's you, too." Then I say something like, "As you work with this idea in your daily experience, notice how your language changes. Educators are historic in their criticism of in-service days. Of course, in their judgment, it tends to be the 'uninteresting' presenter, but when you take responsibility for your perceptions, a presentation that you might have called 'uninteresting' turns into "That didn't work for me." See the shift in responsibility, the lack of negativity, the owning of your own projections, and the lack of verbal violence? That exercise helps students get somewhat past their belief systems, which frequently has the effect of increasing what they hear. You, too, will have at your command a very useful and powerful idea, applicable in every-day life.
Look at page 110 and 111 in Learning, Practicing, and Living.... for the notations on the difference between a counselor working from the Conforming Stage of development and one working at the Self-Aware Level. I can tell you that many students function at the Conforming Stage, which sets up natural resistance to anything new. Remember, you're not trying to convince, you’re merely presenting a different point of view. Resistance and anger often represents a failure to be able to hold two differing points of view in your mind at the same time. Conformers have more difficulty with this, while those at the Self-Aware Level often do it with practiced ease.
Practical application for the New Careering differs from traditional career in that it doesn't start with tests and/or techniques, advice, opinions, or any other quick solution. It starts with listening and has considerable “pause” in it. The New Careering Professional also uses considerable clarification to make sure he or she gets a fairly accurate picture of what the client has said. On Page 224, in Learning, Practicing and Living the New Careering, you’ll find a “Checklist for the New Careering Practice.” The first six items embody what I do. Remember less is more in life and particularly in one-on-one sessions.
Finally, remember the objective of the New Careering is to support and encourage experience-based learning. It’s about orchestrating the vision of the client, not superimposing your version of that based on your experience. That way we can help mature an individual's career theory and not stand in the way of something he or she may want to do, but failed to do because of something we said or a nonverbal cue we sent. While you can sue a ham sandwich the New Careering has very little that could be called "actionable."
Here's an Illustration:
A counselor in Iowa got his or her legal fat in the fire (a West Virginia expression) by advising a student that a particular English class was certified as acceptable by NCAA (Sports). The student missed a four-year athletic college scholarship and sued the school district citing negligence on the part of the counselor. While you can't do much with this, having only 1/2 hour for presentation, but you could ask the students what they would have done as counselors.
You’re probably wondering, “What would you, Dr. Miller-Tiedeman, have done.” First, it’s much easier to set at my computer and pontificate about what I might have done. It’s much more difficult in the situation. But given I knew about the New Careering, or given I had taken a mini-law course, or given I had, at least, a small awareness that everything I say could be actionable, I would have asked the student to get a faxed okay on the class from the NCAA (even though I have a list of qualifying classes in my office. Things change.) Then I would have required the student to sign that fax and another form stating he or she, based on the information in the fax, took full responsibility in signing up for the class. I then would have faxed both papers back to the NCAA and placed the original in the student's personal file. The key here is "Everything in writing, and put the responsibility on the student for making sure the class qualifies." Written contracts work because recall, at best, is unreliable.
Counselors need to prepare themselves for more potential court cases, as advice will be more and more called into question. Some examples, "I don't think you would be very good at this." or "That field is too crowded." Anything a counselor says to a student and/or a parent is actionable in a court of law. Remember, you can sue a ham sandwich. Counselors haven't thought too much about this, but it's coming. That's another reason to work in the New Careering framework as it uses mediation type procedures where the mediator (counselor) doesn’t interfere or add personal comments of a judgmental nature. This makes mediators (and New Careering counselors) poor court material because they haven't put themselves verbally at risk, and mediators tear up notes at the end of the session, and New Careering professionals destroy notes after the final session. If the counselor in this situation had followed the above suggestions, no suit would have been forthcoming.
Finally, the New Careering practice usually reflects the idea that we know nothing about "how it is" for anyone else, whatever "it" represents and we know nothing about his or her destiny may be or how even choices that appear not good, frequently figure into the destiny in ways we will never understand. That at best, it's all a guess. Never mind impressions, common opinion, or any of those things that cause us to feel like experts. We only know what is good and best for us in any one given moment, which, even for us, can change the next moment. That's life.
Hope this helps.
If you want more clarity call me at 304-697-1110 and if you have to pay for minutes, I can return the call as I have unlimited minutes. In addition, I do enjoy talking with students and further seeding the New Careering out into the culture.