That's the title of a two-day seminar I'm attending - it's about understanding people and how we can understand better, which is a bit of a laugh given that I initially spelt it wrongly and I've got the seminar invitation in front of me. My written German is truly dreadful but that mostly doesn't matter because I don't have to write very much. Yesterday I had to write a brief note about Herr Krüger not wanting to go for a walk on Wednesday but he might like to go for a walk on Friday. And can I just say, Herr Krüger, if you're listening, that it would have been a lot easier all round if you had wanted to go for a walk yesterday instead of me having to conjugate the perfect of anmelden and then write it down in the correct place in the sentence.
The hospital work is a bit hit-and-miss and had I not done the very close work with Frau G, who died last week, then I'd probably be feeling a bit demoralised by the whole thing. My first day hadn't been a roaring success because one of the nurses was quite blunt and told me that she couldn't understand me and then ignored me. There was a long-stay patient who I'd been visiting but she's gone home now and since then whenever I turn up I'm told there's nothing for me to do. Yesterday, I saw in the general note-book that's kept in our room that there was a request that if someone had some spare time would they go for a walk with Herr Krüger and so I found the ward, found the nursing station and then listened to all the instructions regarding the possibility of him having a panic attack. Then Herr Krüger decided he didn't fancy a walk after all but the staff were lovely and said at least I'd turned up and he would have been pleased about that. Personally, I doubt that because I don't think Herr K has been very pleased about anything for quite some time, but I digress. Despite not achieving anything concrete I did manage to negotiate all this stuff and the staff understood me and there was no sense that I shouldn't be there. Maybe I'll just ask if I can be reassigned or else I'll become so damned fluent in German that I can have a full and frank exchange of views with Nurse Ratchett.
So, back to the seminar which starts tomorrow; it's going to be one of these sitting-in-a -circle days I think and I quite like doing stuff like that. In fact, I used to run a lot of sitting-in-a-circle stuff, some of which was seen by our personnel department as staff development and by most others as an excuse to eat biscuits. One of my very earnest colleagues would insist that we should be 'clarifying what people expect from the day' which was mostly bolleaux because everyone knew that there was an expectation that they would have to say something reasonably intelligent and they'd be rewarded with biscuits instead of giving the honest answer: ' chocolate digestives and an early finish'.
The thing about circle stuff that I hate is when you have the 'death by round'; that bit where you're asked a question and everyone has to say something really interesting but there's only about two interesting things to say and you're 17th in the round. And doing it in German. Good grief.
However, in my positive world I need to see the opportunity and not the threat. So, I can see that it's a night in a relatively nice hotel and the food looks reasonable and they give you cake in the afternoon. In fact, I suspect that there is a law in Germany that states that one cannot do anything without having cake in the afternoon.