"I'm doing stress management and assertiveness training next week. A corporate gig."
My sister nearly choked on her soup.
"You? Assertiveness? What did they say? Hey - you're going to do this assertiveness training next week. Without pay. And you just nodded, ok, sure.... right?"
Um. Something like that. No. I am getting paid. Really. Just that, they sold it as an assertiveness course but its not geared for that. Its a stress course. So please just - make it into an assertiveness course, whatever, just, you know, throw in a couple of extra exercises...
Er, ok. Sure, Whatever you say.
Stress management, me?
She who has been eating her lunch at 4 pm because she forgot/ didn't have time/was rushing out the house and left the lunchbox on the washing machine...
Driving and putting on lipstick in the rearview mirror because she's late but she just can't arrive looking like, well, like that.
That funny feeling of - whats that brushing up against my earlobe? Oh, its my shoulder.
But it was fun.
Me and nine stressed employees in a training room. I made them dance, I made them meditate, I made them breathe, I made them look at the deep beliefs underlying their stressors.
It's always the same with those corporate gigs. I gird myself for a long drudge of hard work. The ennui of powerpoint and melamine desks and carpeted rooms with canned air and poor coffee. But inevitably, you get to play with an interesting bunch of real South African DNA. On this gig, there was the poor-me desperately unassertive pet-lover, grappling with big family issues. There was the balding SA version of Ricky Gervais who made sweeping comments, old South Africa style about Zulus being a war-like nation (this was somehow a stressor for him, I didn't quite get why). There was the giggly make-a-joke-out-of-everything woman who is traumatised by Joburg crime and has a desperate need to control her environment and all the people in it. The shy first-born in a family of 9 siblings (father has two wives) who feels burdened by the need to bring his dispersed family together. The just-out-of-varsity bright young thing who is just biding her time in this job. The hardened credit-controller who thinks she has no issues with assertiveness, its everyone around her who has the problem.
I love these courses. They are exhausting. But there's something very rewarding about working with the raw matter of peoples' problems, stresses and organisational miscomforts. And trying to release some of that stuff, and forge new pathways. A two day course is a pathetic amount of time to do this, of course, and next time, I'll politely say that I think it might be better if they tailor the course towards proper assertiveness exercises, instead of asking us to make the shoe fit, magically. If that's ok with them, of course.