As we have discussed the initial connection between peers sets the tone for how the relationship will develop. Where a peer sees their role as that of helper, their opening line might be ‘What can I do to help?’ This can establish a relationship where they assume power and seek to provide answers and advice. This also encourages the other person (consciously or unconsciously) to assume the role of the person in need of help.
Imagine this scenario:
It is the first time you are meeting someone, and as a peer supporter you are seeking to establish a connection with the person. Write down how you would introduce yourself, and the things you might say or questions you might ask the person during your first interaction. Allow yourself 5 minutes to complete this exercise.
Now imagine you are an impartial party, reading the notes you have just written. As an observer, what notes might you give the peer supporter to help them improve on making a connection?
Think about you felt before you began this exercise, and after you reviewed the notes as an outsider. Consider that both you and the person you are supporting will both have feelings before and after a first meeting, and how this initial interaction might impact the conversations that follow.