Liz | Ōtāhuhu, Auckland

“I have so many of those types of conversations. An ongoing conversation that I’ve been having with a family member, is how hard they’ve struggled to overcome their shame on a particular matter. Fear which built up into anger and resentment.

I’ve just learned to walk alongside them, to acknowledge their feelings, know the right cues and time to give them words of encouragement. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything. You just need to be sitting alongside them, holding their hand, giving them a bit of a hug or nodding in agreement and that seemed to be worth more than words. I tended to get a greater response by just simply being there, or listening. Those non-verbals can actually make a huge difference to someone who doesn’t know how to express themselves, or have the words to express what they’re feeling in that moment in time and I was able to show a level of understanding by using my non-verbals instead of my words, where often sometimes people can be threatened by too many words. They can feel even more confused and perhaps can go into further isolation, because they don’t want to hear any more words. So that’s something that I’ve learned in my conversations with people, who have opened up and shared things about what’s going on in their life.

It’s really important to have heart-to-heart conversations. I don’t think they happen enough, because we’re so busy and people often get distracted by things that they think are important, and then they’re full of regret later on about what they could have done, should have done, would have done had they gone back or had the time. Heart-to-heart conversations empower people. They feel enabled rather than disabled. They feel like someone’s believed in them and it allows them to really become the best of themselves, or to see the potential that others see in them. You help people to realise the pearls and the jewels that they already had. They just didn’t know that they had it, and it often takes other people to point that out.

I grew up on the North Shore. Born and raised on the North Shore. So, I’m a proud North Shore girl. I went to Westlake Girls’ High school. I come from a good family, grew up in the church, as well, so I did all of the community work and the family support stuff with Mum and Dad who were leaders in their community. They were my role models for how to be a good leader. They never strived for leadership, and neither did I, but it’s kind of where we’ve landed, and I think the road towards that was through community relationships, and by simply helping others. You are also helping yourself by helping to develop or support other people. You grow in that process as well. So, that’s kind of where I’ve come from and I’ve continued that thread and theme into my professional life. 

I recently returned to Auckland after living in Christchurch for 16 years. I worked at the University of Canterbury, while in Christchurch for 16 years then I returned to Auckland to be closer to my father, who is very ill, and so I currently work at the Manukau Institute of Technology, and I’ve been there for two years, as Head of Student Success and Experience. So, working with people, supporting people, helping them to realise their potential. All of that stuff that I saw in my parents, that they nurtured in me, I guess I picked that up and took those values with me in my life choices.”

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