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When Life Is Chaos! May 24, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, Hope, Systems Thinking.
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It’s really funny (or aggravating) when life decides to take a detour from where you think you are going. I’m in the middle of a huge detour right now. These trials are upsetting and aggravating primarily because you think you have a handle on life and a focus on what you want to create and how to do it. Then life happens. Out of your control some system or person decides to throw you into chaos. Like when I came to work the other day and I turn on my computer only to find my DSL line from AT&T was suspended with a message telling me to call them now!

My world grinds to a halt as I wait on hold for 30 minutes. When I get a person I ask what the frozen DSL line and nasty message are all about. She, in the best of self-righteous ways, tells me I haven’t paid my bill and if I would like to take care of that she could help me and unfreeze my DSL line. It took all the patients I had not to take this woman’s head off. I counted to 10 then asked her, “Didn’t you receive a check?” She tells me to hold and clicks off. A dangerous thing to have happen after a 30 minute hold time. She clicks back on sounding meek and not nearly as self-righteous. She said, “Yes, I have a check for xxx amount and your current balance is xxx and everything is just fine. She will get my DSL back up and have a nice day.” Click.

This is what is passing for customer service these days. I have had Shell call me telling me I’m so past due and they want a credit card number now. Oh sure, I just give anyone who calls all my credit card information. I asked for statements to be mailed to me so he asked what my account number was (now he called me) and since I don’t use gas cards I said I didn’t have a clue. What came next just blew me away. Suddenly I didn’t have an account with Shell. This was the most confusing call. I asked how I could owe anything if I don’t have an account? He didn’t know and hung up.

One of the best calls I experienced was one I made. I was going over a credit card bill and noticed a charge for AAA auto club. I can’t remember ever signing up for that. Currently I drive a Mercedes and it comes with roadside assistants. I called the number listed on the bill and got a marvelous customer service lady. I said that there was a charge from AAA and I never order it so I want it off my bill. She began to argue with me that I did order it. It was an automatic renewal. I just love auto renewals because it is near impossible to get them stopped. Finally I asked when the charge was started. She said 1985 so I told her I wanted a refund from 1985 to the present for all the AAA charges. She hug up on me!

Now that just doesn’t work on me. I called them right back. Of course I got a different person and this guy was very nice and helpful. The last lady had removed the charge after she hung up on me. I told this gentleman what my experience had just been and he was very sorry, took an incident report and promised it would be taken care of. We parted friends.

Citi Corp calls day and night because I’m past due on my bill for $8. They spent more than $8 collecting that debt. These companies are so reactive now that they alone can create a lot of chaos which in the end does them more damage than good. A sign of the times I guess.

I understand people are hurting now. I’m one of those people. I don’t care what Washington keeps saying this “economic recovery” seems very unreal. This is a time for compassion and looking for ways to put together deals with customers that help the company get paid and doesn’t over burden the customer or charge an exorbitant interest rate. But do they do that? No. Conflict is what they like and the customer feels shame at being in this position and the company doesn’t have a clue that when you shame a person you have just hurt yourself as well. The person shamed will either strike out at them or strike out at himself. Both actions have negative consequences for the company.

And so it goes. Business in the 21st century…

Family May 1, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, consulting, family coaching.
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When the family finds itself in crisis what should it do? Quick! Have the answer? When a child in the family falls into the high risk category and you never planed on having a high risk kid, what do you do? Quick! I need the answer. When my kid explodes turning the entire family into a rage and creates unbelievable stress on the marriage, what’s the plan? Hurry, the answer please!

Unless you have lived this situation you have no idea what it feels like. You think you are a good parent. You teach values and are there for your kids. But despite your best efforts the calls keep coming from the school everyday with the “bad” report.

The answer is you flat out don’t know what to do. Suddenly you are in territory you never planed for with problems you never thought you’d see. Not in my family.

Maybe you run to your kid’s doctor only to find out they don’t really know what to do and don’t really have a referral. Maybe she prescribes some drugs but she really doesn’t have the pharmacological background to be effective.

Then you make a big mistake and run to a clinic in a large institutional hospital. You find half committed doctors and social workers that offer to run yards of test and weeks of therapy only to be at the same place but two months down the road.

By now the stress on the marriage and family is too much. Mom screams, “We have to get him out of the house!” How do you do that?

The truth is the struggling teen is hurting as badly as everyone else. No one likes him, he has no advocate and he feels abandoned and scared. The shame of the situation is driving his actions.

What you need is a family coach/educational counselor. You need a friend that can do a breakdown of the situation and make lists of basic needs that need to be met. This person can help ease the panic and frustration and show you that there is a direction to go. Remove your vulnerability.

I have had to deal with at risk kids in my home. They are all doing well now but the road was very bumpy because I didn’t have an advocate to ride shotgun the whole way. I have had to go to war with hospitals like KU when they were wanting to follow a treatment protocol that clearly wasn’t indicated. Me against five doctors and one rabid social worker. I’ve had to get in the face of school administrators to get them to open their eyes to what they say their mission is. And so it goes.

All this is very intimidating which a lot of the time is exactly what the powers that be want. They are the experts and you should sit down and shut up. Some recent events outside my family has shown me again that an individual is needed to talk a parent through a hard choice. I was wishing that I could have met with the family and assessed things myself then gone to the facility chosen and see if they can really do the job. I found I was wanting to remain the advocate for the child and parents until things were under control. That way you can help a family through the entire process and after care choices and family reintegration.

I’ve never really thought of doing this kind of work but really thinking about it I feel more and more intrigued by the challenge. I have worked with educational consultants in the past but they are placement counselors. They don’t follow progress on a proactive basis through treatment. What do you think? Is there work here and an opportunity?

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