Administrative Assistants, “Admin Days” Gathering
It seemed I was to be the after-dinner-team-building entertainment, which was a new experience for me. I mean, I know I can be funny, but…
I have never taught a self-defense class where many of the women arrive holding cocktails, beer bottles and after dinner drinks. They were a very chatty bunch and seemed ready to have fun. I had prepared for this and looked forward to a lively time together.
The quandary, as I planned this class, was a new one for me. First, a little background. Before teaching at any company, I do a deep dive into what the business expects me to provide its employees and what participants tell me they need or want to know and learn. Most often, these two end goals are similar, if not the same. In this instance, interestingly, the needs of the participants differed from the intention of the company. I was slated to be the entertainment yet a number of the concerns participants shared with me were quite serious.
The organizer was awesome and there is no reason she would have known the details I was discovering. It is common for women to keep violent and/or scary experiences private. This is why I keep my research confidential and anonymous. The momentary pause, as I planned the workshop, was simply that I’ve never been faced with such a dichotomy of requests.
I was privy to the fact that a handful of the women in that room were living in fear of abusive husbands, ex-husbands and known perpetrators. I was told about restraining orders, a hospitalization after a violent domestic incident, and threatening and skulking men at the office and in the home. “I do not feel safe!” one participant told me.
The other piece of my puzzle was that the usual two or three hours I am given to teach was, in this case, limited to an hour and a half. I take what I do seriously and charge myself with providing absolutely the best training I can possibly give. In planning my classes, I put myself in my participants’ shoes and consider very carefully what they need to know in order to stay as safe as possible. There was a lot to do in that short amount of time if I was going to be able to look myself in the mirror the next morning.
What to do?
I thought through my plan with great care and finally came up with a strategy I felt confident about. I got two awesome and strong women to hold pads with me and when we walked into that room, I felt ready!
I can say with confidence that my approach worked because towards the end of our time together, the women – including the organizer – appealed for us to stay longer, which we were able to do. When we finally ended, the women hung around and many a warm hug and kind word were shared though they’d all had a very long day.
The next afternoon, the organizer wrote, “It was awesome! Everyone loved it! Many said it would be cool to do follow up trainings and refreshers. You did a great job covering the key things in such a short amount of time. Thanks so much!”
Strength and Empowerment
Being a self-defense teacher is, to me, a blessing which comes with a considerable responsibility. Yes, you can hire me to be your entertainment and I will deliver. But be assured that for me, there is a lot more at stake. I feel grateful for my skill set and perspective. Women are inherently brave, smart and resilient. It is an honor guide so many to a place of even more formidable strength and ever deeper empowerment.