First responders are highly trained individuals who are taught to be observant on the scene of a traumatic event or a crisis situation, but too few of them are taught to manage their own mental health. Being accountable is somewhat ingrained into the life of a first responder. From the first responder’s perspective, accountability is related to time tagging, tracking, and reporting of people and resources at the scene of an incident. Accountability partners is a way to encourage, checkin and promote a healthy life.
Becoming accountable. What is your experience with being accountable? What does it mean to be accountable? Being accountable means that we are reliant on the guidance, advice, and inspiration of another. Being accountable typically occurs between two people rather than a group of people; that being said, there is no reason that someone could not create an accountability group. The only hesitation is that an accountability group may feel less confidential.
The purpose of having an accountability partner is to encourage active and healthy communication; to establish a sounding board; to create a relationship that is reliable and consistent; and to personalize opportunities for growth.
What is an accountability partner ?
What is an accountability partner? An accountability partner is someone with whom you can rely on. It may be someone that you have not known long, but are currently developing a relationship with. While it may be a new relationship; it is an individual that you can trust to be honest and forthright with information. The aim of an accountability partner is two-way street. Ultimately, an accountability relationship is devised of two people sharing and providing constructive feedback in order to build up both individuals. It is a relationship that both sides must commit an equal amount of effort to achieve a desired result.
Ideally, accountability partners should meet weekly. The relationship helps create a bond between team members and provides them someone that is safe to go to. Keeping this in mind, accountability partners should not be forced, but rather should be encouraged to grow naturally. You can cultivate the relationship by encouraging the team to connect with people of similar interest and ideas.
The fundamental goal of an accountability partner is to establish a safe place and an internal support system. The partnership should not be a vice to disclose or relate personal information about another. Ideally, the accountability partner should take an unwritten oath of confidentiality. Again, if the partner does not feel safe, then the purpose of the relationship is null.
The accountability partner should intimately get to know his or her partner. What makes their partner tick? How does their partner deal and manage stress?
An accountability partner is a relationship should be an encouraging relationship. The purpose of the relationship should be to forge a bond between team members. The members should get to know one another’s personal interest, hobbies, and what makes them individuals. The partners should get to know what motivates one another. It is important that they know one another’s motivations for becoming a first responder. What was the initial draw? Why have they remained? What motivates them when critical incidents take a toll? How do they internally manage and make sense of critical incidents?
A healthy relationship is about encouraging healthy communication. Accountability partners should know how to communicate in a healthy way. It is through verbal and nonverbal communications that the partners will learn to build one another up. If along the way you discover that you are not compatible with your accountability partner; it is of the essence that you communicate your incompatibility. It’s perfectly okay not to be compatible. Here again, it is of the utmost importance that you communicate your needs.
First responders and accountability
Being accountable is somewhat ingrained into the life of a first responder. First responders are well aware of personal accountability on the job. From the first responder’s perspective, accountability is related to time tagging, tracking, and reporting of people and resources at the scene of an incident.
Now from a personal level, first responders are less likely to have a familiarization with such language. As an “accountability” partner, you are looking at developing a buddy system. A buddy system is a way with which a first responder is capable of checking in with his or her designated partner.
The benefits of accountability
What are the benefits of being accountable? The benefits of being accountable is knowing that you have someone with which you can consistently rely upon. As first responders, having a sounding board may not always occur. Feeling as though your words, thoughts, and impressions are respected may be an issue. When an accountability partner is established, you should discuss the ambition, intent, and the overall purpose of your relationship. The intent of the accountability is not to replace a psychotherapy relationship, but it is to establish a relationship that is mutually beneficial. The benefits of having an accountability partner is limitless.
If you are struggling as a fire responder, or in other ways, an accountability partner should be willing to encourage you to find the appropriate help. It is about developing the overall quality of life of the first responder. Consistency is key when developing an accountability relationship.
Establishing accountability relationships
Establishing an accountability partner may feel awkward at first, but think of it from this perspective; it is like any other informal relationship or friendship. You must first strike up a relationship; then you must cultivate that relationship; and in time you will create a bond with the other person. Do not feel as though you are forcing this relationship. Again, there is nothing wrong in asking someone in your personal network. An already established relationship will make this less awkward and capable of implementing the various tools of an accountability relationship. The core feature of an accountability partner should be to support each other and encourage each other beyond the job.
Establishing the Relationship
- An accountability partner should make you aware when you are taking on too much. As first responders, we are often called upon to do various tasks related to our job. We may be asked to take on additional shifts or to increase our workload.
- First responders frequently have difficult time with burnout and vicarious trauma. It’s important that you are checking in with your accountability partner from time-to-time.
- Establish and maintain a regular time to meet up with your accountability partner.
- Be certain that you are actively listening and engaged with your accountability partner.
- Encourage your partner to practice mindfulness techniques (e.g. breathing, meditation).
- Be diligent that you are having healthy conversations beyond the job.
- Encourage your partner to take breaks and to establish a regular workout routine. Regular exercise, sleep, and mental health breaks are necessary for everyone.
- Discourage your partner from participating in the consumption of alcohol and other mind altering drugs to manage stress.
- Encourage your partner to find professional help if they are struggling.
- Be the first-line of advice for your partner.
- Consider reading constructive and positive literature together. Reflect upon that literature when you connect one-on-one.
- Develop a regular assignment or task that you will accomplish with your accountability partner. For instance, if you decide to write a reflection on an event related to being a first responder, then be certain that the task occurs and excuses are avoided.
- The relationship should be a powerful combination of support, guidance, and motivation.
- Be certain that you are both aware and understand the intent of the relationship. It should be an opportunity to strive for personal and professional growth.
- Most of all, be an authentic friend.
The real purpose of accountability is to create an environment that is mutually respectful, inviting and encouraging. Establishing and maintaining an accountability relationship will occur through consistency. The relationship should allow for an opportunity to air an individual’s grievances, frustrations and possibly anger. It may be an opportunity to learn about personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is often avoided. If I accept personal responsibility, then I am admitting to my role in this game called life. When accepted, I have no room for blame or shame, but rather, the acceptance for my choices.
The accountability is an imperfect, but perfect way to create a line of communication. It is not an error free relationship and you must be willing to accept one another’s errors in the relationship. It should be a developing and supportive relationship.
It is not uncommon for first responders to have a difficult time being open with their personal emotions and feelings. Unfortunately, the job has developed into a field that creates walls of protection.
The primary benefit of having an accountability partner is to establish a relationship that is mutually beneficial. Your partner should encourage you to strive for your goals, aspirations and personal bucket list. It should be an opportunity to receive coaching and training. It is an opportunity for both partners to learn and to gain new insights into life. Through the process of accountability, you should be encouraged to be your best on and off the job. It is not about perfection, but rather reaching for your ultimate potential. Remember that an accountable partner should be a trusted companion who encourages you to be your ultimate best. Most of all, the accountability relationship should be an opportunity to improve your perspective and worldview.
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