Is this a win?

I paused before opening the door to the room where many of the interns work when the realization hit me. I had just wrapped up talking to a client when I realized that something in my client counseling approach had changed.

Let me back up. This past week, those of us interns who had been working on the permanent resident certifications had another round of client consultations to conduct. For a certain set of clients, we had to deliver news that was best discussed in person. We were not looking forward to it. We did not like the idea of asking people to come back to the LRC (taking more time off of work, spending money to travel) for what would be a brief, and unpleasant, conversation. Because these conversations would be unpleasant, however, was precisely why they needed to be in person. We agreed that we would pair up so that we would have support if we needed it.

I volunteered to call the clients to schedule times for them to come in. A couple of clients insisted I give them the news over the phone. Partly thankful to just get it over with, I explained as best I could the information they needed to know about their applications for certification. One did not take it very well. I expected questions, confusion, disappointment. This client was angry. And I got why. So when he would pause for me to respond, I did not try to reason with him. I simply let him know I was listening, I understood where he was coming from, and let him keep going. This approach did not seem to assuage his anger by the end of the call, but I hoped it was at least helpful to have someone be honest with him about the road ahead and to give him the space he needed to let his feelings out. I picked up the phone and made the next call.

By Thursday, I had a couple more conversations to go. When my next client arrived and another intern asked if I needed her to sit in with me, I responded without even thinking. "Nah, I'm good." Wait, what? Since when had I become so comfortable delivering bad news that I so cavalierly declined an offer for help? But it turned out to be true. I was good. 

You know what that is? Growth.

To have fumbled my way through countless client interactions to finally arrive at a point where I felt like I was getting closer to becoming an effective advocate is a small victory, surely. These conversations have not become easier or less painful (and nor do I want them to be). However, I have been able to find that balance I had wanted at the beginning of my internship. The pangs and the frustrations were not gone, I was just learning how to better manage myself. Opening the door to the interns' room, this realization stopped me in my tracks. Even if a small victory, having the assurance that I am capable of reaching this point is good enough for now.