The Person-Centered Approach is at the center of Aspire’s vision for the work that we do. This approach is a way of thinking about each other and the people we support that drives us to act in service to the person in front of us. As we move to expand person-centeredness into all we do, self-awareness is essential. What am I doing now that is person-centered, and how can I build on that? What am I doing now that is not person-centered, and how can I shift my behavior? Self-awareness and taking responsibility for change can be uncomfortable. We are here to help and support each other in the process. Here are five person-centered practices to bring to your work.

Ask Questions

Ask the person in front of you, what do you need? What do you want? Don’t assume you know the answers. It’s too easy for our own preconceptions, values, and biases to limit our understanding. If the person has communication challenges, remember that people communicate in many ways, with words, devices, sounds, gestures, and behaviors.

Listen to the Answers

Active listening takes real effort. Hear what the person is saying and the emotions they are conveying. Repeat back to them what you heard to make sure you’ve got it. Reach for understanding, whether or not you agree with what is being said.

Respond with Compassion

Ideally, you will help the person get what they need or want right away. Sometimes there will be roadblocks or uncertainty. Let the person know you will help and share with them the opportunities and challenges you see. Avoid shutting them down or dismissing their concerns.

Work Together

Explore with the person how they can achieve what they want or get their needs met. Enlist your colleagues and supervisors – it’s very likely that others have worked on the same issues before you. Consider how the person’s friends, family, employer, or other community members could join the efforts.

Speak Up

When systems, procedures, or rules are creating opportunities and opening doors for people, let your colleagues know. Spread the word! When systems, procedures, or rules are creating roadblocks, speak up and be part of the process to revise them.

Don't forget these practices, download the 'Five Person-Centered Practices to Bring to Your Work' infographic below to print off and hang in your office or space.

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Five Person-Centered Practices to Bring to Your Work