Just about everyone in a helping role can remember a time that they have, unknowingly slimed their colleagues, friends and families with stories that probably had more details than necessary.
I know I have had my fair share of shocked and blank stares when my response to the causal question of “so.. How was your day?” includes a story with a few too many unsavoury details.
But I want to introduce you to a strategy that prevents sliming and promotes a healthy workspace.
It’s a concept by Laurie Anne Pearlman and Karen Saakvitne called limited disclosure or Low-Impact- Debriefing. It is used to minimize the passing on of trauma by helpers who are informally debriefing with others.
Two Types of Debriefing
- Formal – a more structured process and is normally scheduled ahead of time and often referred to as peer consultation, supervision or critical incident stress debriefing.
- The Informal Debrief – often takes place in a rather ad hoc manner, whether it be in a colleague’s office, in the staff lunchroom, or with your spouse at the end of a long day.
What is Sliming?
Sliming is the kind of debriefing that happens without warning or permission and generally leaves the person receiving the information feeling as though they now carry the weight of this information.
It’s important to note that Sliming is contagious. When we have been a victim of sliming we tend to want to turn and slime others, offloading the weight we just received.
What is Low Impact Debriefing
Low impact debriefing is a concept by Laurie Anne Pearlman and Karen Saakvitne called limited disclosure or Low-Impact- Debriefing. It is used to minimize the passing on of trauma by helpers who are informally debriefing with others and gives you the freedom to be able to talk and share with others without fear of sliming them and yet still provides you all the support and care needed in sharing about the difficult work that you do.
Four steps to low impact debriefing
It’s important to know what we are needing in debriefing.
When you are surrounded by needs and suffering on a regular basis you can be desensitized to the stories we hear. Try to become more aware of the stories you tell and the level of details you provide. Ask yourself, were all those details really necessary or could I have provided fewer details and still received the support I needed?
In everyday life when we are about to share bad or difficult news we often give a small warning that something negative is coming. This allows the listener to brace themselves to hear what you are going to say. The same principle applies for debriefing. It is important to provide fair warning to those we are going to share and debrief with so they can ready themselves to hear what might be difficult information.
After you have given a fair warning to the listener, you need to ask for consent. The listener then has a chance to decline or to qualify what they are able and ready to hear. Giving space and permission for the person to answer builds trust and removes any guilt for sharing from you because they have provided you with permission and boundaries.
Imagine your story as being contained inside a circle. Start sharing your story on the outer edge of the circle, which includes the least traumatic information and you slowly move around the circle gradually towards the core or the very traumatic information. You often don’t need to the traumatic details to receive the support you are needing.
When you have used the Low-Impact-Debriefing strategy you are aware of your own needs for debriefing and you have warned the listener so they are able to brace themselves for what they are about to hear. You have gained permission and boundaries and you started the story on the outer edge with the least amount of graphic detail.
This process gives you the freedom to share and allows the listener opportunity to ready themselves and you limit the content according to what is appropriate and needed. Respecting both their needs and yours.
CLICK HERE to download the free cheat sheet on the 4 step strategy of Low Impact Debriefing
Use this with your team to create a healthy team that supports one another without sliming each other.
Support for The Care Ministry Podcast comes from Mental Health Speakers Lab.
An online course and coaching program for clinicians that will establish you as a speaker and industry expert. Walk away with clarity of voice, an effective message and a valuable call to action to shift your one-on-one practice to global impact through digital workshops.
Go to MentalHealthSpeakersLab.com to register for the upcoming course opening.
Join the Church Mental Health Facebook Group! In the Facebook group, we chat about how to care for others, what are your challenges as well as share tons of resources. This is a great community of pastors, clinicians, and those with lived experience and we want to get to know you.