Joel at a Glance:
Profession: Victim Justice Program Specialist at the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime
Personal Motto: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” Mark Twain
Why he chooses to cowork: Because Netflix is too tempting.
What He Does
Joel has spent the last 25 years helping others get the support they need. Whether he’s working one-on-one with people to connect them to programs that will support their growth and rehabilitation or overseeing discretionary grants programs at the State and local level, helping improve the lives of others is Joel’s calling in life.
Social Work on the Individual Level
For almost 15 years Joel worked with organizations providing outreach, supportive housing, and crisis services to individuals with mental illness through community-based psychosocial rehabilitation programs. His mission to help others brought him to organizations like the Way Station as their housing and outreach coordinator, the Northern Virginia Family Service/Survivor’s Fund Project as a case manager, and the Connecticut Legal Rights Project where he worked as a paralegal advocate.
Social Work on a Larger Scale
Knowing that people’s lives were made better by his efforts made many of the challenges of social work worth it, but the financial challenges of the job eventually forced Joel to look for alternative work. Luckily he discovered that it was possible to stay true to his passion for helping others while making his work more sustainable.
As a Victim Justice Program Specialist he is able to help organizations and care providers assist people all over the country through programs and services focused on helping victims of crime. The scope of his work has broadened, but his mission remains the same. Some of the projects he is currently working on help provide funding, training, and technical assistance in crimes related to the opioid crisis, mass violence, terrorism, and tribal issues.
Paying Attention to Social Cues
During his time as a social worker Joel learned firsthand how people think, act, and respond under crisis. He learned how body language and speech can have subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) effects on the direction of a conversation. Being aware of what your body is communicating is especially important when dealing with people who are victims of crime or when you need to take control of a situation.
But body language and social cue awareness is not just for social workers; it can benefit anyone. Whether you are in the office, in a high stress situation, or communicating with loved ones, what your body is saying speaks as loud as your words. Joel shared some great tips for how body positioning can help you set the tone of your next meeting/business deal.
Using Body Language Effectively in a Meeting
- Do you want the other person to see you as an equal?
Sit at the table directly across from them.
- Do you want to force a deal?
Stand up. This shifts authority towards you.
- Are you dealing with an aggressive person that just HAS to win?
Create space (close proximity can increase tension in intensely charged situations). Keep your tone calm and consistent. Don’t apologize (signs of weakness cause aggressors to get more agitated).