To cry or not to cry? When engagement gets emotional
What do you do when the room you’re facilitating is overflowing with emotion? How much emotional resilience do you need in engagement?
A community member has bravely taken the microphone.
They’re shaking but determined to tell their story. They’re detailing their years of abuse. They talk about specific incidences, how they felt, the frustration, the sense of helplessness.
It’s not the first harrowing story of the day. They’re crying.
And so is most of the room.
What do you do?
Do you remain professional? Being silent but stoic, holding back your emotions?
Or do should you be authentic? Hug them, or cry, showing your genuine reaction?
Community engagement can be tough.
We’re tasked with gathering information for better decision making.
And at the same time, we must build community understanding and relationships.
Learning how to be empathetic, and how to be human when doing a critical task is a tricky but important skill for all of us in engagement.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? What did you do?