As I explained in the other parts of this series, the first two pieces of advice to people starting an interaction with a person with a communication disability is first ask “What are the offers here?” and then join in with the offers and Do What You See. The purpose of this method is to see new opportunities for interaction and then hang out with the person, sharing their space and beginning to develop a rapport. There is one more thing however that newcomers to the practice often miss and this is where my third piece of advice comes in.
To mirror a person’s behaviour closely a practitioner must be able to improvise and follow the person’s lead. This requires the practitioner to let go of his/her objectives or goals and be more mindful of what is happening in the moment. My third piece of advice relate to not this letting go, but to what we actually add to the interaction, what we bring. This is what I call Celebration.
When you have observed the offers and joined in with them by Doing What You See, don’t just copy the behaviour… copy the behaviour and celebrate it like this is the best idea the person has ever had and there is nothing that you would rather be doing right now. What is really interesting to me is that a practitioner can choose to celebrate or not and that it feels nicer for the practitioner to celebrate something even if reluctant and the celebration is done on purpose.
Celebration is a key factor in developing rapport and is something that is often missing from my staff obervations. Of course some people are very celebratory by their very nature and this is not something they have to work on but for others, particularly those working in stressful conditions, the emphasis on celebration has really helped them to find connections and also more job satisfaction.