Outline of speech given at Toastmasters at work early October 2005, relating to relief efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in September, 2005.


This is the first disaster relief effort I became involved with directly through my job at a software company, which provides emergency response software and direct assistance to hurricane and earthquake relief efforts. Here are a few things I learned through co-counseling that 'helped me help others help themselves' last month:

1) keep these in the back of my mind:
    a) "nothing made anything or anyone 'bad' this week"
    b) "we do the best we can with what we have every moment"
    c) "it's not my stuff, my thinking is perfectly clear"
    d) "someone somewhere loves me always"
    e) "I am a good guy... and bad guys are good guys too"

2) relate to others in a loving and supportive manner (extra thru phone or email that give no direct clues), to help convey to them that we are doing well

3) make space for others and myself to have feelings and to let them out as appropriate (leave time in a phone conversation for pauses, smile at or reach out to someone who shudders or cries, press the 'hold' button on the phone for ten seconds to take a deep breath then continue negotiating)

4) create space for impromptu think-and-listens, giving the other person full attention (limit 5 - 10 min.), and then receive it back in a relaxed, almost conversational manner (I do not co-counsel with co-workers, who I have no counseling relationship with)

5) help others directly to distinguish feelings from reality, and patterns from persons (suggest snippets like "our behavior is not us", "[fill in here] are good")

This helped me stay present and operate normally in abnormal circumstances, and mine are far more normal than many others' affected by both tragedies.