As a professional it's ingrained in us, especially as an Asset Coach, that we need to focus on the positives. However, being able to focus on the negatives can be really useful for both ourselves and the people we work with.
So, you're working with somebody who doesn't have a big social network and they spend a lot of time in their room on the computer, they are also a very talented piano player. This could be argued from an outside perspective that this person is socially isolated and isn't interacting with the wider community; however, you get to know this person and it becomes clear through genuine conversation that they are incredibly happy with the way they live, even if it doesn't look that way on paper. If we only focus on the fact this person is a skilled piano player then the assumption could be made that their areas for development lay socially. However, delve deeper and it becomes clear that what could be assumed an area for development is actually a personal asset. After all, isn't personal happiness something that we wish for all the people we engage with as Asset Coaches?
If we only focus on what's positive, we only get half a story.
Let's face it, if we're having real world conversations with people who we've built up strong relationships with, every conversation isn't going to be sunshine and rainbows. Embracing the negative only strengthens that positive relationship further, because it's real and valid. If we as Asset Coaches fail to acknowledge this, then I truly believe we aren't doing our roles justice. Life throws a lot of bad things at a lot of good people, taking a step back from focusing on the positives is important because we become privileged enough to see the person as a whole.
So, why is it important to know that the person you normally see on a Tuesday afternoon considers themselves to have social anxiety? So you can be accommodating. Not knowing this aspect of their life means that an important part of their identity is skirted over to instead focus on the positive. I'm not saying that we dwell on their social anxiety, what I am saying here is that we acknowledge and respect it because it exists.
The deeper the relationship with somebody, the more colourful their story becomes; allowing us as Asset Coaches to tailor the most appropriate opportunities for people.
So although exploring the positives of somebody’s story can be incredibly useful for them, exploring the negatives can also have the same effect. ‘But surely this isn’t productive?’ I hear you say. Delving into the negative and exploring it both tactfully and realistically can improve a person’s self-awareness of the issues they are facing. The negative aspects of a person’s life may harness the possibility for life-changing choices to be made, but if you don’t dig deep enough, you’ll never know where the diamonds are hiding.