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Nightline IM Training

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Jenni Kates

on 10 October 2013

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Transcript of Nightline IM Training

Why use IM?
Gives people another way of communicating with us
It’s a good compromise between email and “talking” to us
Gives people a more impersonal way of still “talking to us” so easier to talk about very emotive topics
Provides a way of people with hearing or speaking difficulties to speak to us live

So what do I do?
Log in at the beginning of the duty at the same time as the phone line opens (7pm)
Mainly similar to calls
Take your time
Be sure to clarify what the caller means
Do not give advice, even though it seems natural to do so in IM format
Do not talk to any more than TWO callers at once, if you get a third caller, explain to them that the lines are busy and that you will be with them soon
The Basics
Use proper English, with capital letters at the start of sentences, with correct spelling and grammar
Get the other volunteer to check everything before you send it
Don’t use smileys, abbreviations etc
Use punctuation on the end of sentences if appropriate
e.g. Always use a question mark if it’s a question BUT you don’t always need a full stop
e.g. Nightline’s here if you want to talk
You’re welcome
REMEMBER! This is NOT Facebook chat!
Reply when they finish typing. Take a few seconds to think about what you’re going to say. Type it. Reread it. Send it. It’s fine to discuss what to say with the other NLer.
If you can see that they are typing, let them finish
If they’ve been typing for a while let them know you’re still there by asking a question or reassuring them you’re there (especially important in case it’s saying ‘typing’ in error)
How long should I leave it before replying?
After an IM
At the end of the call log it in the IM log book
A brief description of the content
Do not put any personally identifying information (e.g. names)
Do not put any personal comments or judgements
At 12am (midnight) log out of chat
Fred: None of my friends are at uni this year, they’ve all got jobs. I’m here all by myself.
Nightline: You’re here all by yourself?
Fred: Yeah, everything just seems to be going really badly.
Nightline: Everything seems to be going really badly?
Fred: I’m worrying about my exams too.
Nightline: Worrying about your exams too?

Fred: None of my friends are at uni this year, they’ve all got jobs. I’m here all by myself.
Nightline: Have you been feeling lonely?
Fred: yeah, I kinda have. I’m struggling with everything and the people I used to talk to about it aren’t here anymore.
Nightline: When you say you’re struggling with everything, what do you mean?
Fred: I have two deadlines next week and one the week after. They’re all really tough.
Nightline: You’re finding your course difficult at the moment?

Paraphrasing is much better than mirroring in IM -
It has the benefit of helping clarify what the caller is trying to say

Minimal Encouragers
Anon1: I’ve been feeling really down lately
Nightline: ok
Anon1 : things haven’t been going well since christmas
Nightline: mmm?
Anon1 : I’m finding it really difficult
Nightline: alright.
Anon1 : … Anon 1 is offline

Without tone of voice, minimal encouragers appear very dismissive and in IM they halt rather than encourage the conversation

It may sometimes be appropriate to start a sentence with one as long as you follow it with a statement and/or question

E.g. ‘OK. How long have you felt that way?’

Information Requests
tallulah: do you know where I can go for a sexual health test?
Nightline: they do them at cripps health centre.
…2 minutes later…
tallulah: can I have their phone number?
Nightline: it’s 0115 846 8888. Are you worried you’ve caught something?
tallulah: ummm well I don’t think so…
tallulah: how would you know if you had chlamydia?
Nightline: I’m not medically trained but I can send you a link to website that has more information if you like?

Be professional and polite. Don’t leave long gaps. If they just ask for info, give them info. If you need to give longer info, reference it, send a link
What to do if...
A volunteer is already taking a call:
You are already chatting and the other volunteer takes a call:
Send a message to any new chatters saying that we are currently busy and will be with them soon.

Continue chatting, turn the sound off on the computer and be vigilant about how their call is going.
Don't take any new chats!

If a third user appears when you already have 2 active chats:
Finish the sentence you are typing

Change tab and paste in this phrase: “Nightline’s IM service is busy at the moment, please try again later, or feel free to call us on 0141 353 1050 or e-mail us at asknightline@glasgowstudent.net.”

BUT - if the phone call is a long one:
Keep the sound off, but can take IM calls again - make sure not to take anymore than two IM’s at one time and be aware of how the phone call is going!

(this is in a word document on the desktop)
Silent IM's - A new user logs on but does not chat
Treat in the same way as a silent phone call

Keep sending them prompts every two minutes or so, leaving more time in between each one, as you would on a call

At 15 minutes tell them:

“You haven’t said anything for 15 minutes so I’m going to end the conversation. If you would like to continue this conversation, please type one letter. Otherwise, feel free to contact us by IM, phone or email.”

If they say they're "going away" :
If someone says they are going and will come back e.g. brb (be right back), tell them that is okay and:

“I’m happy to wait for 15 minutes but after that the system will log you out. If you are logged out, please feel free to contact us again by IM, phone or email.”

Connection drop during a chat!
If the NLer is in the middle of a chat but stops being able to communicate with the user due to internet or computer related problems:

Close the chat and log back in again
Upon logging back in apologise to the user and continue the conversation.

When a user logs out without warning and logs back in later:

This will open as a new chat window, treat this as a new call unless they make it EXPLICITLY CLEAR they are the same person

If a new user logs in with the same username and continues the same conversation as the previous user:

Continue talking to the user as normal

Abusive/obscene chatters!
If a caller becomes explicit,
Tell them that you would prefer that they were less explicit.
If they continue being explicit
Tell them that you are not comfortable with the conversation and ask if they would prefer to talk about something else.
If they STILL continue being explicit,
Tell them that you are going to end the conversation but they are welcome to message us again if they would like to talk about something else.

Suicide chats
Disable the phone line by pressing the dial button

If the caller tells you they have taken steps to end their life:
Tell them that we can call the emergency services if they would like us to but we will respect their wishes if they do not want us to.

If there is a suicide call on the phone lines
Disable the IM!

If you are already on an IM chat and you get a suicidal call
Explain to the chatter that a situation has arisen which you must deal with, and you will return soon

The Directors should be called if a caller says they feel suicidal
(this applies to phone, email and IM!)
(there will be an official template on the computer)
If a chatter sends you a link:
DO NOT click it.
... Just don't
When giving longer chunks of information:
Make sure to give a reference (e.g. website address)
Any questions?
Sign in to the email account at the start of your shift (7pm)

This should then stay open throughout the shift - don't forget to keep checking it!

Emails must be replied to within 48 hours
This means that you can take your time (but we do prefer to answer them sooner than this!)
The computer will have a link to follow and signing in instructions.

Be aware: We can see their email address. This should not be recorded anywhere for anonymity reasons
Work with the other NLer
write it together, or get them to check it!

Make it a similar length to the original email
don't overwhelm them with questions!

Draft replies in word
Spell check!
Avoids accidental sending

Sign emails from "Ally"

How to respond:
Practice Time!

Everything is SO CRAP! I mean here I am at Uni with loads of mates having a really good time. But all that doesn’t matter now because you see it’s my mum. She’s got breast cancer. God it’s so awful and I don’t know what to say to her. What can you say? Hey mum well you know these things happen! But it’s that I can’t find the right words – I mean she’s my mum and I love her. But what can I say? Nothing’s going to make it ok and she’s going to die. I don’t know how my little sister is going to handle it. She’s only 9. Shit. I’m really sorry for putting all this on you.

Hi there,

Thank you for contacting Nightline, we are happy to listen. I understand that you are having a difficult time just now, when did you find out about your mother’s diagnosis? You said that you are finding it difficult to know what to say to her, have you had the opportunity to discuss your mother’s diagnosis with her?

You mentioned that you are worried about how your sister will handle the situation. Does your sister know about your mother’s diagnosis?
Feel free to contact us again.

Take care

Read the email through once first

Reread, and pick out the important/key points
Spider diagram

Discuss each key point in order
From most mentioned to least mentioned (level of importance)

I don’t know what to do. I think I’m gay, but I don’t know how to tell my parents. They’re strictly religious and if I tell them they’ll kill me. Or kick me out of the house… I mean, I’ve felt like a failure for them for so long. Why couldn’t I be normal? But here’s the thing, I’ve met someone at university. They’re really great and helping me to feel more comfortable in myself. I think if my parents could get around this whole gay thing, they’d really get on. I’ve told my sister, and she’s really supportive. But now my partner and her are starting to pressurise me to tell the rest of my family and friends. What can I even say? I’m so scared.


Spot the mistakes!
Hello,I hope you can help – I don’t know what to do. My 5 year relationship has just come to an end. My Dad tells me I’ll be ok and there are plenty more fish in the sea but I really can’t see anyone else being interested in someone like me. I’m ugly and boring and nobody is going to want to go out with me. I’m so lonely and feel like people don’t understand me at all. I’m totally distraught about it and feel like I would be better off out of it.
Please help!

Speech to use
At the beginning:
Show empathy -
Thank you for contacting us
I'm pleased you were able to contact us
At the end:
Avoid pressuring them to email back
Feel free to contact us again
Best wishes

Avoid phrases such as:
Let us know what happens
I'm sure it'll be fine
Body of the email
Put your questions into context
You mentioned that...
It seems as though you...

But avoid just one long list of questions!
Ask questions - keeping them personalised to the email body
e.g. Is there anything you've thought of that might help the sleeplessness?
Make sure to avoid being directive - give them options!

Never use text speak and avoid emoticons!

Make sure to reference information (give them a web address)
Your email made me want to give you a big hug - 5 years is a long time so its perfectly normal that you feel nervous about being in the dating-game again, I was single for a while after my last break up but the best thing to do is go on a date as soon as possible.
Have you told your friends that you’re thinking of killing yourself? I’m sure they don’t want you to.
I’m sure you’re not an ugly girl at all and that you’ll find a guy who wants to be with you.
Please e-mail back soon,

•Sympathetic start – it should be empathetic
•Jumps to conclusions
you don’t know they have friends they can talk to
the email doesn’t say that they are female or that the relationship was with someone male.
•Bad grammar
•Belittled the problem
•Advice and opinion given
•Picked out the wrong thing
•Transferred focus to NLer
•Tried to dissuade from suicide
•Asked her to e-mail back soon
•Signed as “Charlotte” not Ally or Nightline
The Directors should be called if a person mentions they feel suicidal
This also applies to calls and IM's
Full transcript