By Guest Contributor on May 3, 2018
Consent does not begin in the bedroom, it starts with how we listen, how we speak and how we live & work. Our personal culture of conversation can tell us a lot about how we respect and ask for consent. Consent is more than a question, more than a statement of boundaries: it is the entire terrain of communication. Listening is the foundation of how we communicate. Sometimes, we can fall into a pattern where conversation flows in a manner that suggests that neither party is listening. Instead of simply learning how to ask for consent, I think it’s worth being mindful of how we listen for it.
The 3 checks of consent:
The Interruption Check
If you notice that your conversations are filled with “Yeah, but…” or “Me too, and…” you are interrupting. If you are anxious to respond before the other person finishes speaking, you are interrupting. To notice when someone states their boundaries, you need to genuinely hear what they say. There needs to be space between where their thoughts end, and yours begin. Interrupting indicates that you are listening to respond, rather than to understand. You can only respect someone’s boundaries if you understand what the other person has said about them. When in doubt, take a moment to breathe in, then out, before saying anything in any conversation.
The Constant Chatter Check
Uncomfortable silence is called so for a reason. Sometimes, light conversation can be exactly what is needed, but sometimes it is not. Habitually filling space by chatting is a sign that you are preoccupied with your own experience. In an attempt to create comfort for yourself, you may be missing some non-verbal signals from others. Silence is not consent for conversation. Look for other clues that may indicate what type of conversation the other person is looking for. Notice your breathing when you experience an uncomfortable silence. If you can slow your breathing, you are more likely to be able to “read the room”.
The Dismissive Check
If you think you know what someone else is thinking, you are already not listening. By making assumptions in a conversation, you put on metaphorical earmuffs. This can lead you to view the other person’s statement as irrelevant, unimportant or incorrect. By dismissing, undervaluing or correcting someone’s statements, you are effectively shutting down a conversation. You may be missing what they are trying to communicate. If you choose to assume and dismiss, you’ve lost the opportunity to listen. Dive in when your impulse is to dismiss.
The way we converse may seem innocuous at first, but the downstream impact of our daily habits can end up leading us away from meaningful interactions. Our culture of conversation determines how we understand consent. Self-awareness consent checks are meant to show us our habits from the other person’s perspective. Make listening the foundation of your conversations, and you will gain more than you expected.
By Melissa Lafrance on March 7, 2018
This month we feature Steve Bohnen, UBC Campus Security Crime Prevention & Community Relations Officer as our Thriving Campus feature.
How do you thrive at work?
I love our UBC environment and believe most people who work here strongly desire to establish a ‘higher and better social contract’ within this community. My role at Campus Security allows me to contribute to that mission, and I’m superbly grateful for it. The endless flow and variety of our challenges exercise my talents, skills and training daily. I enjoy a great balance of responding to real-time calls for assistance and assessing/analyzing occurrence patterns to promote better outcomes for both the University and the greater community. It’s a wonderful balance of challenges and creative opportunities.
I couldn’t do this work without respectful, highly supportive and like-minded colleagues who realize that we bring our total selves to the workplace every day, and understand that we must engage fully with one another to be most effective as a workgroup. We share our challenges, use check-ins regularly and maintain ongoing training and certification to stay at the top of our game.
How do you thrive at home?
Music has been a lifelong passion for me (yes, guitar players are actually considered musicians) and playing, whether alone or with others, has provided amazing rewards in relaxation, problem solving, left/right brain balance and just plain joy.
I’ve been playing since 1965, and am regularly privileged to sit in sessions with four or five people who bring 200+ years’ worth of talent and experience to the room. These moments transcend language and are a gift I wish everyone could experience. I encourage everyone to find their creative passion or instrument and get into the flow with it regularly. I play daily and wouldn’t be without it. This is Your Brain on Music is highly recommended reading.
I’ve been blessed with a superb partner in my wife Mary, a social services professional who brings a balance of compassion and deep expertise in her field to our family and our marriage. She’s an absolute champion and my best friend.
In three words or less, what does Wellbeing mean to you?
Fully, peacefully energized.
Steve Bohnen has worked at UBC Campus Security for 23 years. He is a certified BCSSA Security Consultant and Advanced Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) practitioner. Steve studied Arts at UBC from 1966 to 1968, left the Lower Mainland for work on the BC North Coast and later returned to UBC in 1986 after widely varied work and life experiences in several parts of the province, including Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. He has been married for 38 years and has four children, one of whom graduated with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from UBC. His passions are his family, his work, music and the outdoors.
Photo Credit: Don Erhardt
By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2017
Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month we feature Jessica La Rochelle, Assistant Director of NITEP, UBC’s Indigenous Teacher Education Program, and the Manager of Indigenous Education (Faculty of Ed).
How do you thrive at work?
I am so grateful to work in an environment that fuels my passion for Indigenous education and feeds my spirit. My roles allow me to travel to Indigenous communities to engage with potential students and educational leaders to recruit them to our programs, work with an amazing team of educators and strong advocates, engage with leaders in Indigenous education to promote and facilitate reconciliation and resurgence, and connect with colleagues within the Faculty of Education and across campus to support and empower Indigenous students. As a Wellness Liaison, the lead for the NITEP Mental Health and Wellness program and member (former chair) of the Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellness Working Group, I am passionate about creating and maintaining safe spaces for students to have meaningful discussions about mental health and also what it means to be an Indigenous student at a mainstream university.
I thrive on creating and maintaining respectful connections and relationships with students, colleagues and community partners.
Tsel xwelchesem late lhwelep. Respecting the protocol of the lands on which I live and work, I raise my hands in thanks and respect to all those who have come before me and alongside me to clear a trail through an increasingly visible Indigenous landscape.
How do you thrive at home?
Working full-time while pursuing a graduate degree has been challenging over the past two years. I have struggled to maintain balance, but thankfully I have a wonderfully supportive and understanding husband who pushes me to keep calm and decolonize on. I thrive on spending time with family and friends, whether it’s quiet time together, family potlucks, movie nights with my husband or other super fun activities! I am so blessed to have a huge and supportive family: our homes are full of fun and laughter. I love to read, especially getting lost in stories and finding new parts of myself. Knitting! I love to knit; my husband might say I am obsessed and I would not argue with that.
I strive to be a good role model for my family and for my community. Coming from a small community of about 1,000 people, it was a huge adjustment for me when I moved to Vancouver to pursue post-secondary education. Now I’m thriving in the big city.
Éy swàyèl, Lhkwemiya tel skwix. Telitsel kwe Sts’ailes. Tsel Stó:lō qas te Okanagan qas te Trinidadian. Tel sísele Siyamtelot qaste Swelímeltexw. Ey tel squalawel kwels kwetslole. Jessica is Stó:lō from the Sts’ailes First Nation and lives and works on the Skwxwú7mesh and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm territories respectively. She is also Okanagan on her mother’s side and Trinidadian on her father’s. She is the Assistant Director of NITEP, UBC’s Indigenous Teacher Education Program, and the Manager of Indigenous Education in the Faculty of Education. Jessica has a BA in Sociology from UBC and is currently in the final year of her MEd in Educational Leadership and Administration with a focus on Leadership in Indigenous Education at UBC.
Photo: Courtesy of Jessica La Rochelle