Leading a Double Life: What PR Can Learn from Social Work

A body outline drawing of Valerie in which each piece symbolizes a part of her journey through the Social Work programPhoto: A body outline drawing of Valerie in which each piece of the drawing represents Valerie’s journey through the Social Work program.

For those of you KbloG readers who don’t already know, I started working on my Master’s in Social Work last fall. It’s hard for me to believe that I only have NINE weeks of class left before I finish my last “real” courses and begin my final internship before my May 2012 graduation. Of course, as you know because you’re reading this blog post, I couldn’t bear to leave the awesome Ketner Group team so soon, so we’ve worked together to make it possible for me to “lead a double life” and do both. Even though there are few weeks in there that I’ve all but forgotten due to lack of sleep, I wouldn’t have changed a thing (short of altering the laws of time in which the day is 30 hours long – the parents are all nodding their heads in agreement!)

I could go on for way too long about the experiences I’ve had, but for the purposes of this post, I thought it would be fun to talk about a few of the things I’ve picked up in social work that I could see the PR world benefiting from.  If I really sat down and thought about it for a while, it would be a LONG list – but as you can imagine, I’ve got studying to do, so let’s make it snappy!

“Yes…. and….” – My beloved first-year practice instructor, Tammy, drilled this one into us on day one, and we all thought it was kind of silly, but now, I try to drill it into anyone I catch making a “yes…., but” statement. We’re humans. We love to think we’re right, and we love to argue. But it can get pretty obnoxious when you’re talking with someone and they keep pretending to agree with you at first, then negating exactly what you said with their “Yeah that’s true but I mean….” statements. Being on the receiving end of these comments is no fun, and it happens more than we realize – oh, until now, because you’ll start realizing it all the time. So what’s the alternative? The more positive and respectful “yes, AND” statement. What I didn’t know until I Googled this just now is that it’s also an improv comedy technique, which makes total sense! No one wants to watch an improv skit where the comedians can’t let go of their preconceived ideas or egos rather than playing off what’s going on in the moment. Continue reading