Your Role as a DramaGuru Cornerman
I’ve chosen four (4) cards from the “DramaGuru Relationships” deck of 72 cards that describe essential qualities of a thoughtful, Agent September cornerman. I added, Heather Plett’s explanation of “holding space” for someone as he or she works through a traumatic situation. Her words reminded me of people who seem to know exactly what to say or do, especially when the best thing to say is nothing at all. When you don’t know what to do, just listen.
Everyone needs a cornerman to help sift and sort through a problem or situation. Many things can be handled alone. But when you bump into something that frightens you or is beyond your capacity to deal with, get your cornerman on the phone. Ask for help.
Establish a practice of helping people by listening when they need to sound things out. And when it’s your turn to need someone to hold space for you, you’ll have several people to choose from. You need people who are strong in a variety of areas.
Don’t expect one person to have the experience or expertise needed to handle every problem life throws at you. That means, your spouse, partner and friends might not have the space to listen as you unravel an emotional knot. But someone does. Find people who can listen — without freaking out and over-reacting.
That’s what good cornermen are for. That’s why you need more than one.
Cornerman: The person who stands in the corner of the boxing ring ready to assist his or her fighter with advice, water and medical attention between rounds.
DramaGuru Cornerman: The person who is in the corner of someone who needs support and guidance with a particular situation.
When someone asks for your help — and places you in the position of cornerman, consider the following:
- What’s the best way to approach the situation?
- How does it match up with other things in your experience?
- Does the person really want help or is just listening better?
- Are you willing to reserve judgement on the situation?
Agent September, Defend and Protect Card
Allow enough time for the person to explain everything that’s going on before bombarding them with your good advice. Asking questions helps to organize the conversation. Your objective is to get to the real problem at the heart of the situation.
DramaGuru Relationships card number 48 – Agent September, Defend and Protect. Let people ask for your help. Don’t bombard them with your knowledge. If you acted like an elephant, practice making a graceful exit.
Heather Plett: “To truly support people in their own growth, transformation, grief, etc., we can’t do it by taking their power away by:
- trying to fix their problems,
- shaming them by implying they should know more than they do,
- or overwhelming them by giving them more information than they’re ready for.
We have to be prepared to step to the side so they can make their own choices, offer them unconditional love and support, give gentle guidance when it’s needed and make them feel safe — even when they make mistakes.”
People learn by making mistakes. Expect that some mistakes will offend you. If someone asks for your help, you don’t have to agree with what they did. Focus on restoring balance. Once you get the person to a neutral space, then you can begin outlining the steps to set things right, make apologies and move forward.
DramaGuru Relationships card number 63 – Karma: Gain Points, Lose Points. Forgive the Mistake. Said it. Did it. Regret it. Learn from it. Move on. Holding grudges deepens resentment.
Heather Plett: “Make them feel safe enough to fail. When people are learning, growing, or going through grief or transition, they are bound to make some mistakes along the way. When we, as their space holders [cornermen], withhold judgement and shame, we offer them the opportunity to reach inside themselves, to find the courage to take risks and the resilience to keep going, even when they fail. When we let them know that failure is simply a part of the journey — and not the end of the world, they’ll spend less time beating themselves up for it and more time learning from their mistakes.”
Broken Agreement Card
People make promises and break them all the time. They offer good excuses. As a child, all of us quickly learned to defend ourselves by blaming someone or something else. Or denying being anywhere near the thing that broke, “It wasn’t me.”
My mother named the culprit, “The Ghost of Not Me”.
DramaGuru Relationships card number 54 – Broken Agreement, Empty Your Mind. Listen to your cornermen. After a breach of trust, you deserve to be comforted and protected. You need safe space to restore balance.
Heather Plett: “Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness. A wise space holder [cornerman] knows:
- when to withhold guidance…if it makes a person feel foolish and inadequate
- and when to offer it gently…when a person asks for it or is too lost to know what to ask for
This is a careful dance that we all must do when we hold space for other people. Recognizing the areas in which they feel most vulnerable and incapable and offering the right kind of help without shaming them, takes practice and humility.”
Cornermen, Situation Analysis
Even if you grew up in the same house, with the same family members, your point of view is different from the person standing next to you. Their experience and their abilities will define how they want to handle a situation. Offer guidance. Work through different options. Talk through what might happen or what someone might say or how you think you would react to the solution, if someone presented it to you. But don’t tell people what to do.
DramaGuru Relationships card number 8 – Cornermen, Situation Analysis. To find out what motivates another person, look at the world through their eyes. What do you see that you didn’t see before?
Heather Plett: “Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would. Holding space [Being a great corneman] is about respecting each person’s differences and recognising that those differences may lead to them making choices that we would not make. Sometimes, for example, they make choices based on cultural norms that we can’t understand from within our own experience. When we hold space [corner], we release control and we honour differences.”
Hold space for someone who needs your support.
And when the time comes, someone will do the same for you.
Practice Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for your mouth. This article is an all belt levels lesson.
Three Friends, Unsplash Omar Lopez
Snow Duchess: Woman wearing black coat in the snow with two Husky dogs, Unsplash Isi Akahome
All DramaGuru images designed by Cheryl Ragsdale