Relationship Management Skills for Interacting with Adults and Kids

My resume so far is heavily dominated with research and instruction. It is going to be hard at this point to explain my interest or commitment to any employer offering me a chance in a field that did not necessarily relate closely or loosely with the areas I just mentioned.

I’ve been through some personal indecisive moments where I wondered if I my interest in international affairs, a masters degree, and a foreign language were enough reason for me to go that into international civil service or if I am indeed cut out for academia. For the most part, I would say I have made some progress trusting my life’s path, genuine interests and process, and so I currently, I remain on academia’s path. Who knows? *Shrugs*

My training sessions recently have been on relationship management with young people. They have left such a strong impression on me and I would like to share some of the information I received in this post.

I am not a parent yet, however, observing young people and working with them makes me see how comparable and nearly the same adults are to young people.

Relationship Management With Adults and Kids, The How Tos –

Never Try to Negotiate through Tantrums/Arguments

Have you ever been in a conversation that is far from friendly and civil? An argument is what that is! Raised voices, overly assertive stances, egos at play and a stubborn view that the parties hold because they both think they are right. As a rule of thumb, disengage when tempers soar. Discontinue the conversation, walk away or wait until the person calms down. Same with young people, do not argue, reason with, coerce or bribe an upset young person. Let them know, ( both adults and kids ) that you will only engage in conversations once there is calm. I’ve seen young people and adults grow fiercer, nastier and act out more only because the other person tried to calm them down, I mean, fires get bigger if you try to put them out in the wrong way. To disarm, only continue when they calm down.

The Go Lower, Go Slower Rule

As a segue to the first rule, the go lower , go slower rule is where you would slow down, quieten your own emotions and speak slower to an agitated person. Remember at this point to eliminate hostile words, postures or gestures. Assume the position of the logical one because quite obviously, the upset person is moving mad.When we meet upset people with the same amount of energy, fireworks will happen. The go lower, go slower rule is how you calm down and quieten or tone down the scale of the argument. If this does not work, we move to the first recommendation which is to disengage.

Don’t Expect Behaviors You Don’t Teach

@themillenial.therapist ‘s Post on Ig

A lot of us women get upset at other women and men because they do not treat us the way we want them to or better yet, expect them to. We think they should already know what to do. Does this make any sense at all? How does a person expect a thing they do not ask for? For young people as well, you need to be explicit and teach or say what you expect, and then when the expectation is not met, you hold them accountable.

Punishment, Accountability

I am very interested in language, wording and positive reinforcement and so there is no way I would ever forget my elementary teacher’s comments on my report card. The comment was always along the lines of ‘Talks too much in class’ or ‘Can do better’. We can’t go through sugar coated moments all throughout life; but then we can always say constructive things to people. In retrospect my teacher could’ve said, the student has a good potential for leadership etc etc and should be offered resources and opportunities to channel that interest in self expression etc etc. because really, what does ‘talks too much in class mean? And what should anyone do with that information? I do agree that not everyone has time or the brain power to reword or constantly remember to be sensitive and offer constructive feedback, however, the key thing is to try. Coming to the word punishment, our trainer offered that we exchange the word punishment for consequence. That made sense to me. That also reminded me equally to remember to make consequences meaningful. To make consequences constructive, explain the relevance of your action ( the consequence ) and then allow the person you’re mad at a chance to rethink what they did and then discuss next steps. Sometimes kids and adults go through consequences and they have no idea the relevance of what they went through or why they need to do things differently. We miss good teaching moments when we do not offer explanations for the consequences we place on others.

Attack the Behavior and Not the Person

Often in arguments, we get distracted and go on unprofitable tangents. Whenever you need to address an issue, try as hard as possible to focus on the action and not the person. Instead of saying you always do this and I’m tired of you; ( Sounds accusatory ) – say this is what you do ( state the thing ) and this is how it makes me feel ( focus on the action ).

Thanks for reading!

Is Success Predetermined? ( Shoe Dog and Two Cases of Study )

Sisyphus and the Incessant Rolling Stone – Sometimes Symbolizing the Futility of the Human Pursuit of Success/Power

I live on African news. On a certain evening in late October, I was having dinner and listening absent mindedly to the London based Nigerian reporter who hosts the BBC Africa podcast. I liked her pace, voice and near casual delivery. I threw down whatever crumbs of food I was eating and walked away from the speaker that filled the apartment with the news. I was going to pace the entire square foot of the living space with no real aim in mind until I gave up and went to bed. Then the story of Dr. Ismail Ahmed, the founder of World Remit came on. There was mention of his having been let go of while he worked with one of the UN agencies; the UNDP, to be specific. He was working in the remissions department and had noticed a gross whirlwind of corruption and intended to blow the whistle. I rolled my eyes. This was truly a whistle blowing age we lived in. He was so concerned he wanted his superiors to support him while he changed the world and straightened things up in the specific UN office yet that was sadly not going to happen. He was told he could lose his job if he went ahead with the probe and outing. He eventually lost his job, doubled his fiery determination to make a difference and started World remit. Dr. Ahmed was recently named first on the 2019 UK power list in recognition of his success so far with World Remit.

My UN Experience

I worked in one of the UN offices in Accra for a year. While I think I didn’t work long enough to notice any activity worth whistle blowing over, I did encounter an image that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Naturally, any young graduate who cared enough about change would have stirrings in their spirit over the pace of work and things to be done. This was me in 2013; I had graduated with a bachelors in liberal arts and a foreign language under my belt. These diplomats had better make room and watch me change the world! My equally ambitious friend and I often spoke about books, travel, places to eat after work and the lady in the HR department who we asked the same question each morning. Did she need a hand with projects? Did she need help with pending work, help with future work, anything? Did she want us to clean her office even? We probably would have, but each time, the answer was a curt NO. The lady was a whole topic of discussion because unlike our boss boss, who practiced an open door policy with us, this one was very different. She was hostile, passive aggressive and never willing to assign or offload work to us. We were after all interns and there to work! Anyway, outside this, we quickly noticed the bureaucracy of the UN. To back the frustrating realization of this clogged up system, there was an image in our office of a dog. The dog appeared in many versions; imagine mugshots that continued for the span of about 14 boxes. Essentially the dog was captured looking excited in the very first shot and not so excited in the last. The images were a gradual and dismal transition of emotions and energy, from total motivation to eventual frustration. The dog was a representation of the effect work in the UN could have on you; – you would come in excited, eager to change the world; and eventually withdraw your excitement in exchange for a trite acceptance of the reality that changing the world might actually take a lot more longer than you’d expected….And this image was in our office! The presence of the image in our office was a bold and saddening admission that we all knew, and somehow accepted all we saw.

Francis Ngannou’s Story

Francis Ngannou is a successful mixed martial artist from Cameroon. He lived in poverty growing up; the crippling type of poverty that stifles any chance or effort to be resourceful. He migrated to France, met nearly the same amount of suffering if not more and then walked randomly one day into a training studio where he met a man that would train him, cultivate his skills and hone him into the world star he is today.

Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog is an intimate memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight. Throughout the thirteen hour audio book, I have been unable to shake off the tremendous contribution of his coach, in the shaping of knight’s character, intellect and spirit. Phil Knight tells of his coach’s resilience, industriousness, strength, force. Bill Bowerman’s conviction that the type of shoe an athlete wore had a direct relationship with performance. He is Nike’s cofounder and the brain behind some of the brand’s very first creations.

Take Aways

The three individuals from these three encounters definitely worked hard. However, I am still mulling over the contribution and convenience of the relationships and steps and events that came their way that led to their success. Their stories enforce for me that….

…..the dots always connect.

Shooting for Entertainment

In an earnest attempt to get to know my students; I asked one of them how their weekend was. This student is a shy individual who would avoid an instructor at all costs and speak only when spoken to. Knowing this, I went ahead to probe and get him talking about how his weekend went.

Fort nite is an online survival game whose essential goal is entertainment derived from the satisfaction of self defense delivered by guns. This student I was speaking with had had a relaxing fun filled weekend and it was grace a cette jeu ( because of this game ). This game whose sole purpose revolved around shooting for self defense and ultimately fun derived from killing opposing forces. I walked away feeling unsettled. What subliminal messages were these games pushing?

The conversation blog which I follow ardently published a post based on the logic behind fear. In this post, the main idea presented revolved around the illogical nature of fear. It maintained that fear, specifically xenophobic and fear of the other, rested not on the logic of otherness equaling humanity but rather an us against them mentality which encouraged an attack on different groups if the one group wanted to survive. I see the same idea in this game.

A quick online search showed that variations of the Fortnite game features zombies who must get shot at if the player wants to stay alive. Many games that even I have played innocently feature this idea of self defense against the being that is new, foreign, terrifying and out to get regular people or take what they have. Zombies are feared and need to be quelled before they multiply. Read related post also featured on the conversation blog. Around the world, and especially in South Africa, immigrants who even have the same skin tone have been targeted because of their otherness; with the idea being that though African, they aren’t technically South African. They are different, Nigerian for example, and dangerous. Just like in South Africa, zombies are everywhere in their indecent numbers and must be stopped. America’s zombies are as usual its foreign immigrants whose skin tones are different, – little heed paid to other immigrants who have the same skin tone as the man. This society is a place where entertainment in the form of online games, marketed and meant for younger members of society equals shooting at other BEINGS WHO ARE DIFFERENT in order to survive. This is the society where a lone armed shooter walks into a grocery store just because he knows that that part of town will certainly have DIFFERENT people aka zombies. In this space, I continually remain eager to understand what entertainment there is, for example in a game that rests on shooting others.

Mental health pulls the trigger not the gun. Where does this statement fit where young people are getting unconsciously wired to derive fun from shooting at the other with aims no matter how benign.

Understanding the Proverbial ‘Bad Bitch’ Through The Black Lady Sketch Show

Out of a plethora of shows available on creative platforms, I choose Black shows because I seek to clearly understand the many complex issues plaguing the Black community and especially the Black woman.

I came upon this show on Instagram. It was advertised as a coming soon on HBO and looked like it held so much value because of a HILARIOUS preview and later scenes that serve/d as fluid vehicles to push social commentary about women’s lives in post modern society. In summary, I  would say the show is an honest parody of societal issues with a limelight on feminine life. The topics projected in the show span impossible beauty standards, a comparison of marriage and it’s gradually changing or totally changed standards and expectations from our parents’ generation as compared to the millennial generation and a lot more!

This post will explore the Bad Bitch Support group scene from one of the episodes and hopefully spark your interest in jumping on this show as a way to understand, reinforce or refute certain ideas you may already have.

The Bad Bitch Support Scene –

Impossible Beauty Standards Enforced by Who?

Context

Words at Play – Bad Bitch,  Basic Bitch, Okay Bitch, Pressure, Men, Lace front, Waist Trainer , Fucksicodone ( Spelt as heard on show ).

This scene is set in what seems to be a lab. The women  are seated in a group and are observed through a glass window by two scientists. The scientists have a representative ( Angela Basset) who chairs  the group. The Bad Bitches are in deep conversation about their lives and some of them speak of the pressures and stresses of maintaining a life that is eternally linked to heels and make up. Some of the members of the group seem perfectly fine with their state and are horrified at the thought of ever allowing their partner ( Men in this case ) see them without make up. They all agree to some extent about the need to remain in their current state all except one of them who is distraught and ready to give up. The rest of the ladies and the scientists are shocked at her questions and non conformity. The scientists resolve to increase the dosage of Fucksicodone ( a coined term from the word ‘Fuck’ and the suffix of a family of drugs that are meant to numb pain and in this case common sense or a desire to rebel against imposed beauty standards.)

From The Top

Third/Forth wave feminism circles around agency and choice. Particularly for Black women who have witnessed struggles shaped in the form of sexism and racism, the state of being a Bad Bitch has become a doubled layered protective tool that could help navigate the aforementioned terrains. A Bad Bitch is defined as a woman who embraces her body while simultaneously using it as a commodity (Lavoulle and Ellison, 2017).

  Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 13.17.04In the scene above, the implied truths portrayed are that these women must be confident, tall and unflinching because as one of the characters say; ‘they didn’t choose this life, this life chose them‘. This statement though is indicative of a certain kind of lack of a choice, of a lot that has been cast on them through the workings of the male gaze, objectification of the Black female body and capitalism, link to the second factor. The location of the scene, –  a lab, – is a weighty portrayal of the fact that indeed, there is a working behind the scene when it comes to beauty standards. Through the scene we further understand how a woman can be objectified with no gain and with shame only and unnecessary vulnerability as side effects. For this reason and in tandem with the specific definition of a Bad Bitch as offered by (Lavoulle and Ellison, 2017), Bad Bitchery can enamor and position women  to  gain over the forces that suppress them. One of the characters explains that she goes great lengths to fix her make up an hour before her man is up. It is unclear if this work (of rising early to make up), is meant to elicit some form of gain from the man; – however, if it is, then the choice of the character to use the tool of make up ( which equally functions as a tool of objectification ) to her personal gain guarantees some kind of a win for her.

The final scene where the scientists question why the outlier lady does not want to play into the idea of what a woman should be ( made up, waist trainer clad and in heels ) sums up the play of capitalism and the male gaze in objectifying women. However these females have a choice in how they can turn the powers to their advantage via Bad Bitchery.

Related Post

 

Thank You for reading, here is a Song for you.

How the New ‘Aladdin’ stacks up against a century of Hollywood stereotyping.

This article is authored by Naomi Schalit and first appeared on the Conversation Blog. I reposted here because thematically, misrepresentation touches the African ( my area of interest ) as much as other minorities in their treatment under the Western lens as is portrayed by the author in this article. To read click here.

The Burial of Kojo Movie as a Window into some of Ghana’s Pertinent Issues

The Burial of Kojo debuted on Netflix in April and combines magical realism and realistic depictions of Ghanaian society to tell the story of a girl that journeys between two spaces to save her father from giving up the ghost.

The narrative voice in the movie which narrates from opening to end of the movie belongs to the protagonist; – (Ama Abebrese) who is reading the story of her childhood which she has set in a book to an audience. While this story is moving, surreal and well told, it succeeds in triggering our emotions mainly because it resides on filial rivalry, struggle and finally revenge that ends fatally. However, the film maker, Blitz Bazawule, accomplishes the telling of this unique story with stark juxtapositions that show Ghana today –

Ghana ( Africa ) is in Bed with China

In Uganda, elementary school kids of Ugandan origin are learning Chinese. For better or for worse, the Chinese are now a strong part of their community and learning Chinese in the words of one of the students will open many doors. In Nigeria Chinese firms own exclusive rights to mine gold in Zamfara, ironically, Nigeria’s poorest state. In Ghana, the situation is no different. The New York Times reported in 2013 that a Chinese illegal miner was shot by Ghanaian police which led to heightened tensions. Chinese use/used locals as fronts to engage in mining that they are/were otherwise not allowed to do. Ghanaian miners that work with Chinese companies reported many problems including a deep disregard for labor laws and the environment as well as the use of violence. Today, in 2019, the same situation remains and nothing has changed. The movie beautifully delivers this societal plague which interestingly acts as the bridge between the dramatic plot and the realistic matter of Ghana’s economy and its murky part linked to the Chinese. The fact that the co protagonist dies in a trench dug up on a mine site speaks volumes. This death re illuminates the danger that miners face / have faced over time and in different spaces. The trench is undoubtedly a symbol of exploitation, danger, injustices and above all, inequalities in Ghana today when it comes to foreign presence, investment and local gain. For this reason, The Burial of Kojo also fits well into art that calls for change in society.

Behind the Scenes of the Trench Scene

Though the movie touches on other issues such as the great exit from small towns to the capital mostly for better opportunities and better amenities, the scenic shots from Nzulezo, Ghana’s south western village that sits on stilts (and mirrors a similar settlement in neighboring Benin . ) are wonderful additions that probably add onto the surrealism of the plot. While living in the water village, the girl ( Esi ) has many recurring dreams that show a black crow that she later comes to fully understand and tackle. Speaking of the Black crow, the pink hues that appear in those scenes that otherwise should look morbid and dark, make the scarier scenes easier to watch.

The movie however feeds into the cliché of certain stock colors representing good and bad. Why does the White dove not represent evil and why can the Black crow for once not represent good? Regardless, a particularly unconventional aspect of the film is that it is totally in two major Ghanaian languages; Fante and Twi, and subtitled in English.

Kojo in the Water Village (Nzulezo)

Symbols

The use of dream sequences ( Kojo’s recurring dream and Esi’s dream ) as a technique not only facilitates story telling but also speaks of the Ghanaian socio consciousnesses that attaches so much importance to dreams. Esi finally discovers through a dream, the cause of her father’s near fatal situation in the trench and goes into another dream to try to rescue her father. The dreams in addition to the moments where the characters undergo deep streams of consciousness feature special types of lights that signal to viewers the difference between regular scenes and scenes that are supposed to be mental projections of the characters.

The Scene with Esi’s mom’s stream of Consciousness

Why Jordan Peele’s US Movie has Inequality Written all Over It

Theme song from the US movie

Any literary fanatic knows that the technique of recurrent motifs in a work of art be it literary or visual is a way of sending home an idea.

Motif – In a literary work, a motif can be seen as an image, sound, action, or other figure that has a symbolic significance, and contributes toward the development of a theme. … In a literary piece, a motif is a recurrent image, idea, or symbol that develops or explains a theme, while a theme is a central idea or message.

The Image of the Bunny

The movie opens with a shot that enlargens as viewers are brought from the image of the pink eye of a bunny to a larger frame containing a good number of bunnies all stuck apathetically behind the iron mesh of individual cages they are kept in.

Question – So how does a bunny connect with the idea of inequality?

Answer – All the bunnies are white, and stuck either inside the cages they are assigned or freely wandering in the rabbit hole in which the minions ( whose doppelgangers are up above on the earth are located ). The color white is a symbol of innocence, and purity. The bunnies are victims of their situation, are powerless and incapable of doing anything except wander. The use of an even color for all the bunnies symbolises the sameness of all the bunnies, their sameness does not only stop at their color, their sameness is seen in their collective lot; they are all trapped in the rabbit hole or the cages. At some point, we are unable to quite distinguish between the bunnies and the doppelgangers that remain in the underworld with the bunnies, who represents who? do the bunnies represent the puppetted humans or do the puppetted humans become an extension of the bunnies?

A bunny is an animal that can connotatively be linked with docility, apathy and indifference. Ever seen a bunny eating mindlessly? They eat as though they do not even care about the food itself; I’m yet to encounter a bunny that has been aggressive or that has tried to exit its circumstances or act in any kind of proactive way. In the same vein, a rabbit hole denotatively defines as a bizarre, confusing, or nonsensical situation or environment, typically one from which it is difficult to extricate oneself. ( credit Google ) The puppetted humans are trapped in an underground area with the rabbits; this underground area which is nestled beneath a lone house on a beach is a place of chaos, brainless and idiotic repetition and confusion. The tethered remain down the rabbit hole and for the rest of their lives, are subjected to only doing exactly what their copies do on earth. The camera shows us many a person that simply repeats exactly what their earthly copy does without a will to stop or break out of it. The people trapped in here seem to be a part of an entire calculated system that is designed to keep them there; the cages of the bunnies are a larger symbol of the prison of a carbon copy life these people are subjected to. The bunnies in their own terms also hop around the area without any particular direction or purpose in mind. This repetitive system and bubble that these beings are trapped in mirror a system that is designed to keep people below and hopeless. The people like these bunnies being the puppets they are will forever be unable to leave the shackles of their situation ( cages/rabbit hole). Which is why when they get the chance to leave their circumstances, they come out with a lot of little bit of contempt to trade places with their alter egos who by living their lives have subjected these minions to suffering.

Aimless bunnies in the rabbit hole

A Reversal that is Born out of Contempt

To start quite tragically, the people on earth who by living their daily lives deprive the tethered of will and choice do not even know of the existence of their suffering doppelgangers. The tethered – The very name of the alter egos indicate a deprivation of will. To be tethered translates into being tied or bound to a thing or person out of compulsion. Adelaide’s tethered often describes herself as the shadow of Adelaide. How then can a person separate themselves from their shadow? It is the impossibility of this separation that irks the tethered and makes them exact revenge on the earthlings because as we see, the very existence of the earthlings guarantees an endless suffering for the tethered. In Red’s ( Adelaide’s alter ego’s) narration of her life, we see a binary that is deeply soiled with inequality. While Adelaide enjoys a warm bed and gifts and love, Red barely lives, enduring what she is dealt which is the exact opposite of what Adelaide enjoys. The first thing that gives a brash indication of the stark message Peele wishes to send across comes through when Adelaide asks Red who the tethered are; to this question, Red answers, ‘We are Americans’. This answer begs many questions, if they are Americans, and humans at the core of everything, why do they get a different treatment from the other Americans who live freely? Let’s not forget that the protagonist as well as their friends are middle to upper middle class families who can afford a vacation, a vacation home, a yacht and other luxuries. Gabe is college educated from his overly apparent alumnus Howard sweater and his taste for the finer things in life which pushes him onto an unhealthy need to rub shoulders with his wealthy White friend whose wife is as vain as a peacock. These are a cohort of people whose concerns exceed the mundane and painful lot of living as a puppet ( which is the fate of the Reds so to speak).

Also interesting is the fact that the movie commences with the obvious message of a humanitarian organization ( Hands across America ) that is known for its 1986 protest of a people connected hand in hand in a solidarity statement to end poverty, homelessness and hunger. In the US movie, it is no longer regular people that hold hands, it is the Reds that hold hands perhaps to protest inequality. After all, what is the aim of standing in solidarity and unison with connected hands if not to support each other? The imagery of this human connectedness is cast in such dramatic irony when we realize that Peele’s characters are everything but connected. Like in modern society, they remain apart and far from connected while one group suffers and another ‘lives’

Follow theAffickyPodcast for an extensive conversation on what the movie meant for us 🙂