What you say matters. How you say it matters more.
Thank you for volunteering to be a writer for The Facing Project. The goal of the project is to collect stories from individuals on the topic of gun violence. These stories will be shared in our community to promote collective healing. As a writer you will be listening to persons affected by gun violence and you have a responsibility to not only honor that person as they share his/her reality, but also to take care of yourself as you listen.
Suggestions for Writers
- Utilize an environment that is physically and emotionally safe
- When first meeting with a storyteller, make a sincere effort to build a rapport and establish trust
- Explain rules to storyteller
- Allow for breaks
- Allow space
- Remind storyteller that they are in control
- Writers need to be aware of verbal
and non-verbal cues:
- Body language
- Allow free narrative, try not to interrupt
- Listen calmly
- Avoid making judgmental comments or conclusions
- Avoid telling your own story of violence
- Resist the urge to say, “I understand how you feel”
- Provide expressions of patience, empathy and understanding
- Acknowledge trauma and/or pain
- Reassure storytellers of his/her strengths
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues of
- Don’t underestimate how your own reactions to traumatic details can influence the conversation
- Excuse yourself if you are having an obvious emotional reaction
- Never make promises or make up an answer
- At the conclusion:
- Thank storyteller
- Remind them of their strengths
- Explain next steps
- Provide referrals/resources
with hopeful message:
- Example: Thank you again for trusting me with your story. It took a lot of courage to share your story and your participation in this project will help to heal our community.
WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS. HOW YOU SAY IT MATTERS MORE.
REMEMBER: Hearing these stories is not easy. If you find that you are having strong emotional reactions during or after listening to a storyteller, it is just as important that you reach out for assistance.