People who have worked in prevention of violence against women for a long time have identified the below list of skills and attributes for people working in this field.
Useful skills for prevention work
Keep perspective: it’s a process
Understand that you are engaged in a social change process, influencing change over time. Each conversation is just one part of that bigger process. Allow time for individual conversations and for relationships to develop. This helps avert ‘desperate’ conversations.
Be present in the conversation
Use self-awareness, mindfulness and active listening to focus on what is happening now in this conversation.
Be open versus dualistic
Rather than always having your end point in mind and trying to ‘ram it home’, come into the conversation with openness. Look for common ground and values that align.
Know your audience and meet people where they are at.
Do your homework. Do you know the background and context of this situation? Do you have the data or influential examples you need for this meeting or forum? What issues are you likely to come across? Do you have a repertoire of questions? Plan your conversations.
Develop the craft
The skill of creating effective conversations is a craft that is honed over time. You can get better at it by practising the skills, techniques and self-reflection required.
Take up your authority
You understand the issues, you know the research, you have the experience, so have the confidence to take up your authority to be in this space and do the work you do.
Reflect on your practice and the assumptions you bring to your work.
Reconnect with what drives us
Take time to reconnect with the vision and your own convictions about the importance of this work. Take time to nurture yourself so that you can work sustainably.
Practice what you preach. Endeavour to hold the person in positive regard. Respect that people come from different starting points and acknowledge that engaging with prevention of violence against women can mean changing identity, behaviour and privilege. It’s an integrity issue that we work with respect in relationships, given that’s what we are promoting.