Anticipating the curveball

  • Published
  • By Mike Sanford
  • 934th Airlift Wing Airman and Family Readiness
In the game of baseball, the pitcher will often try to fool the batter with various pitches thrown, whether it's a fastball, changeup, or curveball. Just as in baseball, life can throw us a curve and catch us off guard. Because of life-changing events, we should have a plan in place in case something does happen. Examples include having six months' of savings, adequate health and life insurance, or having someone take care of the house while deployed. But what happens if someone comes to you with a situation they didn't expect and couldn't prepare for? What do you do?

One of the first things we can do to help a fellow Airman is simply to listen. Having effective listening skills takes practice. There are several things we can do to be a good listener. First, stop talking and focus on the speaker. This means eliminating distractions and allow them to finish their sentences without interrupting. Second, we want to eliminate prejudices. I

f we truly want to be there for our fellow Airmen, we have to be nonjudgmental and impartial. The third thing we can do is watch their body language. Body language tells us a lot if you're really paying attention. For example, if someone tells you everything is fine, yet they are clinching their teeth, you might want to get clarification. Lastly, to be a good listener, you have to show empathy. Showing empathy doesn't mean feeling sorry for them, but rather trying to understand their point of view.

After you've actively listened and you understand the situation they're facing, what do you do with that information? Many times, individuals just need someone to listen to them. But in other cases, they may need some additional resources or professional help. If that is the case, who do you turn to? For the Air Force and dependents, there are a lot of resources available, including Military One Source, Military Family Life Consultants, and Psychological Health Advocates. There are also resources within the communities we reside. Take a moment and think about what resources are available for you and your family, either military or community related. If you have a list of resources, congratulations! You've got a plan for when that curveball comes.