Posts tagged: communication skills

FOCUSING INSTANT “AHAH!” #2: Active Listening — Short-circuit an angry confrontation

By , October 9, 2008 11:54 am

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This month: From Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, p. 7, #2.

Active Listening: Short-Circuiting An Angry Confrontation. (You can find it here in English and in Spanish at links at top of this blog)

When someone comes at you with anger, it is a natural response to feel attacked and to defend yourself, to fight back without a moment’s thought.

However, it may help to reframe this anger as “upsetness.” The person is feeling attacked or undermined or frustrated in some way, so they are attacking back. We can break this cycle of attack and defense if we can reframe the anger as “upsetness” and, stepping aside from reacting, simply reflect in an active listening way: “Wow! You are really upset!” “Wow! Something is really bothering you.” “Wow! Something I’m doing is upsetting you.”

And, you can add, “Would you like to tell me more about that?”, but, if that doesn’t allow the person to calm down, just keep reflecting (maybe we can think of it as “deflecting” as well — trying to get the anger off of yourself so that you feel less threatened, less need to react with attack yourself).

The person who is angry, who is upset, is knocked off balance. As you know yourself, this kind of angry response doesn’t feel good. It is not centered, but a reaction to the helplessness of feeling attacked or frustrated. So, by reflecting the person’s words, you can help the person to get grounded again, to get centered.

Read the instructions and the examples and try to keep this immediate response of Active Listening in your back pocket, for emergency confrontations.

Active Listening: Short-circuit angry confrontations

Reflect, Don’t React

Someone comes at you, seemingly out of the blue, absolutely furious. You are stunned and want to fight back. Instead, you can diffuse the other person’s anger by simply responding in an Active Listening way:

“Wow, something is really upsetting you —”
“You’re saying you are absolutely furious that I forgot to show up for lunch”
“You are really upset because you are not getting the service you expected”
“You are really mad that you’ve had to go through four other departments just to reach me”
“It really bothers you when you have to go through all those mechanical phone responses just to get to a human being”

Yes, this is the behavior which I wish customer service representatives had all been taught so that, when I call them, furious, they would just respond,” I’m sorry that you are so upset. Tell me more about what is bothering you so we can fix it,” instead of adopting that rigid, “I’m just following the rules,” “We never make mistakes,” “There’s really not anything I can do for you” attitude that just makes me more and more angry!

Bottom Line: deflect and diffuse anger by simply responding with empathy: “Boy, I can see how this is hard for you,” “I’m really hearing how frustrating this has been for you.”

Reflect the Words — and the Feeling Tone —

As opposed to Passive Listening, where you simply give your silent attention to the other, at the most saying “Ummmhmmm” or “Ah, hah!” or “Wow!”, in Active Listening, you set aside all your typical responses (advice, argument, opinions, problem-solving, judgments) and simply try to say back what the other person is saying, with an emphasis on the feeling tone, if you pick up any:

Example One: Customer

Customer: “I’ve just had to wade through 16 phone messages to get to you, and I was cut off and had to start all over. It’s taken me ten minutes already.”
Customer Service: ” Wow! I’m so sorry! You’ve already been through ten minutes of frustration, and I’m the first person you’ve gotten to talk to.”
Customer: “Why can’t there just be a simple way to talk to a human being?!! I hate these phone messages!!”
Customer Service: “It is so frustrating to you to have to go through this waiting and confusion everywhere you go.”
Customer: “Damn right! Okay, let’s get on with it. This is the problem. I changed my mailing address for my bills, and they are still going to the wrong address, and then I end up getting late fees.”
Customer Service: “Okay, let me take a look at your account right now and see what we can do.”

Example Two: Spouse

Wife: “How could you have forgotten that we had a dinner engagement at 6PM with the Smiths???!!!!!!!!
Husband: “Wow! You are really angry. I must have slipped up somewhere. You’re saying I forgot a dinner engagement with the Smiths?”
Wife: “Yes, you idiot! It was at 6PM, and I’ve been trying to reach you on your cell phone. How humiliating!!!!! Where were you?!!!!!”
Husband: “So you’ve been trying to reach me ever since 6PM, and it’s been embarrassing for you, having to make excuses to the Smiths. And you’re wondering where I was.”
Wife: “How could you not answer your cell phone!!!! That is what they are for, emergencies like this one!!!!!
Husband: “So, to you, this really was an emergency, and no way to get through to me. You’re wondering why I didn’t answer my cell phone and where was I anyway!!!!!!”
Wife: “Yes, that is exactly right! So, where were you?”
Husband: “Okay, I am so sorry. Let’s try to figure out how this happened. I got held up at an emergency meeting with my boss, and I couldn’t answer my cell phone. He would have gotten even madder at me — I guess I was so upset by this confrontation with him that I just absolutely forgot about the Smiths — I should have had the dinner in my Palm Pilot, but I guess I didn’t hear that either — I was just driving and thinking about what to do with the work situation. What can I do to make this better now? Do you want me to call the Smiths and make another plan?”
Wife: “Oh, that’s okay. It’s over now. Why don’t you tell me what happened at work while I find you something to eat — ”

Example Three: Child

Child: “I hate school, and I’m never going again. Teachers are all idiots!!!!”
Parent: “Wow, something is really upsetting you today. Sounds like a teacher did something stupid that bothered you”
Child: “No, it didn’t bother me!!!! I’m not going to get bothered by fools like that. I don’t care what they think!!!!! I’m just not going anymore!!!!!!”
Parent: “So, it didn’t bother you. You’re not going to be bothered by fools like that. You don’t even care what they think. And, right now, you’re saying you are never going again.”
Child: (tears of hurt coming) “She said I’ll never be a writer — that I don’t even know punctuation (crying).”
Parent: “So your teacher said, ‘You’ll never be a writer — you can’t even do punctuation,” and that is really hurting you. Writing is very important to you.’
Child: (more tears) “There is more to writing than punctuation — what I’m saying is way more important — I’m pouring my heart out.”
Parent: “So, for you, writing is not about punctuation but about what you are saying, that you can really pour your heart out. That’s what’s important.”
Child: “Yes (fewer tears) — that’s what matters to me. Next time, will you help me with the punctuation so that she can’t make fun of me?”

Believe it or not, this diffusion of anger, usually to hurt, will happen. And what have you got to lose by trying? There really isn’t any other miracle way in these situations!

Perhaps the idea of just “reflecting” the other person seems silly to you, like a parrot. However, when you are on the receiving end, just hearing your own words back without judgment or “fixing,” you will be amazed at what a rare blessing and relief it is just to be heard.

The Focused Listening Core Skill of the PRISMS/S Focusing Process is more than just reflecting. Through Phone Coaching or classes with Creative Edge Consultants or trainers of The Focusing Institute, or through the manual, CD, and DVD of our Self-Help Package, you will learn many nuances:

how to “ask for more” about words with “neon lights” around them,
how to use Focusing Invitations to help the speaker sit quietly and “sense into” the “feel of it all,”
facilitating a Paradigm Shift,
and how, sometimes, you can offer your own Personal Sharings (advice, information, own similar experiences), as long as you go back to Active Listening, reflecting the impact of your words on the other person.

However, always, simple Active Listening, saying back, reflecting the words of the other, remains the core – the one, simple, most powerful thing you can do to increase communication with another person, while, at the same time, helping them to find their own solutions to their problems.

Tell me what you think at [email protected] or comment on this blog below !

Click here to subscribe to our Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter and get the latest exercises first!!!

Click here for a free Intuitive Focusing Mini-E-course

 See Core Concept: Conflict Resolution to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

See Core Concept: Intimate Relationship to find a complete mini-course on increasing intimacy and sexuality, including the “Sharing Your Day” exercise, Listening/Focusing Partnerships for The Way of Relationship, untangling and equalizing desire, tantric sexuality, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website, or download from links at top of this blog.

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

INTEREST AREA: POSITIVE PARENTING — LISTENING TO YOUR CHILD, YOUR PARTNER, AND YOUR SELF

By , July 8, 2008 11:15 pm

Interest Areas: Positive Parenting Initiative – First Ten Steps

Core Concepts

  • In order to raise children for today’s world, parents must “mentor” their children for independent and flexible problem solving and decision making. Children need guides, mentors : Yoda of Star Wars, not authoritarian police man.
  • Children have natural access to the “intuitive sensing” central to Intuitive Focusing. This inner guide leads to independent decision making, having a “conscience,” and having a satisfying life which fulfills one’s unique “blueprint,” specific talents and aspirations. Positive Parenting helps children maintain and develop this “inner guide.” Using Focused Listening, parents learn to help children find their own solutions to problems.
  • Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are the enemy of developing this inner sensing, this conscience and guide for independent decision making. They exactly teach children to dissociate from their bodies, from their “felt experiencing” or “intuitive feel.”
  • Educating parents for child rearing is not enough; parents must heal their own “Inner Children” before they can radically alter their behavior toward their children. The PRISMS/S Problem Solving Process, with Core Skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, is needed for change at the level of Paradigms, cognitive/ emotional/behavioral “schemata” that determine behavior, emotions, and thinking. The kaleidoscope has to turn!
  • Parents can learn to use Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing in their own relationship. The Creative Edge Pyramid includes applications of PRISMS/S at many levels. Parents can help each other with Inner Child healing through Focusing Partnership turns. They can also use Interpersonal Focusing to resolve conflicts between themselves in terms of parenting styles.
  • Parenting support groups are absolutely essential. Parents sharing with other parents can help them weather crises in their marriages or single parenthood. The essence of support groups is (a) you are not alone. You are not the only one experiencing these things (b) you are all experts. Using the resources among you, you can solve problems, move mountains. Focusing Groups and Focusing Communities provide self-help, peer counseling models for support groups.

Four Applications of Listening/Focusing to Parenting

The Core Skills of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening can be applied to parenting in four different ways, two primarily for your children, and two primarily for yourselves as parents. I call this Inner/Outer Parenting:

Directly with your children:
You can teach your child to use Intuitive Focusing for personal growth, creativity, and problem-solving
You can use Focused Listening skills as a way of responding to your child which avoids argument and leads to deeper communication, understanding, and problem-solving

Directly with yourself and your parenting partner :
You, and your parenting partner, can use Focusing and Focusing Partnership turns to discover patterns from your own childhoods that are clouding clear seeing of your own children
You and your parenting partner can use Interpersonal Focusing turns to resolve issues causing conflict between you in terms of parenting styles.

Basic to the Core Creativity Cultura de Creatividad philosophy is the belief that every person has a unique, inborn blueprint ready to unfold, if the proper facilitative environment is provided (Carl Rogers, On Becoming A Person). Parents are needed to be mentors, facilitators, guides to this unfolding, rather than authoritarian policemen.

Building Self-Esteem Avoids Narcissism

Parents are mirrors for their children. Positive attention creates true self-esteem. Lack of attention, or negative attention, creates the wound of narcissism, the emptiness that looks like “self”-involvement. Narcissists want all the attention for themselves now – because they did not receive it in childhood MORE (Article “Parents Must Be Mirrors For Their Children”)

Setting Limits While Allowing Choices

Children raised by authoritarian parents demanding obedience do not build confidence in their own capacity to make decisions. But children raised without any limits and boundaries also do not develop the capacity to make decisions. Parents must establish clear limits while allowing choices within those limits. MORE (Article “Setting Limits While Allowing Choices”)

Inner/Outer Parenting: Listening to Your Child, Your Partner, and Yourself

Everyone has a wounded child inside. You are not going to be able to change your behavior toward your children or partner, to do things differently than your own parents did, unless you heal the wounds of your own Inner Child. Using the Focusing , Focusing Partnership, and Interpersonal Focusing methods of the Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid provides self-help measures for understanding your child, your partners, and your own Inner Child MORE (Article “Positive Parenting: Listening To Your Child, Your Partner, and Yourself”)

Ten Ways of Bringing Creative Edge Focusing TM into Parenting    Click the link to go to Interest Area: Positive Parenting at CEF website. Scroll down to the bottom to find the Ten First Steps for Bringing Listening/Focusing  Into Positive Parenting.

Also visit Interest Area: Creative Edge Education (especially for ADHD)

Tell me what you think at [email protected] or comment on this blog below !

Click here to subscribe to our Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter and get the latest exercises first!!!

Click here for a free Intuitive Focusing Mini-E-course

 See Core Concept: Conflict Resolution to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

See Core Concept: Intimate Relationship to find a complete mini-course on increasing intimacy and sexuality, including the “Sharing Your Day” exercise, Listening/Focusing Partnerships for The Way of Relationship, untangling and equalizing desire, tantric sexuality, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

POSITIVE PARENTING: Listening to Your Child, Your Partner, and Yourself

By , January 4, 2008 6:40 pm

Listening To Your Child: Developing An Inner Guide, Not Only Outer Authority

Authoritarian child rearing was effective in producing the assembly-line workers needed by an industrializing society. Times have changed. Now businesses want to hire flexible, creative, self-directing team players.

Families have also changed. Large farming families needed military-style discipline to keep everyone in line. In today’s one or two-child families, parents can give attention to the unique personality of each child.

As we struggle for equality between men and women in relationships, we also look for ways in which children can be treated as persons with dignity and rights.

In the 1950s, psychologist Carl Rogers took a stand against the authoritarianism inherent in psychoanalytic and behavioral theories of psychotherapy and created “client-centered” psychotherapy. The therapist did not impose values or goals upon the client but acted only to facilitate the unfolding of each person’s unique way of being in the world. Rogers later called his movement the “person-centered” approach, and it spread to education, childrearing, and peer self-help.

Rogers created “empathic listening.” The therapist tried to hear the client as if standing in the client’s shoes. He or she would then try to reflect back the client’s own words such that the client could hear him or herself more clearly. The client continued clarifying and articulating his or her own vision until the words and images exactly fit inner experiencing. Just this — finding exactly the right words or images for unclear body sensings or intuitions — allowed the client to move forward, to become more clear about values, goals, and action steps.

Empathic listening became the basis of many self- help techniques, including the “active listening” of Thomas Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Training, and Faber & Mazlish’s How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, How To Listen So Kids Will Talk.

Eugene Gendlin, a student of Rogers, discovered a further essential thing about human beings: they could only change, through therapy or through life experiences, if they were able to check with and refer to their present bodily “feel” of living in situations. He called this self- checking “Focusing” and developed self-help and therapeutic techniques for teaching people this self-healing capacity (Focusing, Bantam, 1981).

“Child-centered” or “positive” parenting applies Listening and Focusing skills to raising children such that they do not lose the capacity for self-checking — for articulating and being guided by their own unique vision and for taking responsibility for their own behavior. A three-prong approach is necessary: listening to your child, listening to your partner, and listening to your own Inner Child. Read more about Inner/Outer Parenting

See our Interest Area: Positive Parenting

Download Dr. McGuire’s article, “Don’t Fight ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Community-Wide Intervention for ADHD, School Failure, and Juvenile Delinquency” .

Spend some fun time taking some of the Personality Tests and discovering your “differing gifts,” your Temperaments, your varying Multiple Intelligences, your Shadow Side in the Enneagram.

Learn more about Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening and Experiential Focusing Therapy at Creative Edge Focusing’s website, filled with free downloads on creativity, spirituality, collaborative thinking, parenting, innovation in business, and many other aspects of application of Focusing and Listening skills at home, at work, in your community, and globally.

Download our Instant “Ahah!”s Mini-Manual (”Ajas” Instantaneos en espanol) for ten exercises bringing Listening and Focusing into your everyday life starting today.

Download our complete Intuitive Focusing Instructions to start practicing Relaxation, Getting a Felt Sense, and Intuitive Focusing today!

See actual demonstrations of Listening/Focusing in our Self-Help package, a manual in English or Spanish, four CDs of Focusing Instructions, and a DVD with four demonstrations of actual listening/focusing sessions — everything you need to start your own Listening/Focusing Partnership or Support Group or to incorporate these basic self-help skills into existing support groups.

In the side bar at Creative Edge Focusing, subscribe to our free e-newsletter for weekly reminders to practice Relaxation and Focusing exercises and join our free yahoo group, Creative Edge Practice, for ongoing demonstrations, practice, and support.

Find classes/workshops/phone coaching in our Listings section or Coaching/Classes/Consulting with Dr. McGuire

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

The site of new insights and creative solutions is at the edge of what is already known. This edge, The Creative Edge, holds implicit within it all past and future knowing about the problem, more than could ever be put into words in a linear way

REFLECTIVE LISTENING: WHEN IS A REFLECTION “RIGHT”?

By , December 6, 2007 3:01 pm

This is my favorite question ever!  What is “right” in terms of a Listening Response, a Reflection? I’d love it if everyone would jump in with their answer to this question, regardless of teaching experience or just experience! 
 
For me, the only “right” that really matters is when the client/Focuser says, “Yes. That is exactly right. That fits” with sighs, tension release, other signs that this is the body’s response: “Yes. That is right. It captures the ‘feel of it all’ completely.” 
 
The point or goal of Focusing Turns, or Focusing-Oriented Therapy (FOT) IS to empower the Focuser to gain confidence and skill in allowing answers and next steps to come from within their own experiencing of their own unique situation. 

IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO EMPOWER THE CLIENT TO TRUST THEIR OWN JUDGMENT THAN TO CONVINCE THEM OF SOMETHING THAT MAY BE THEORETICALLY “CORRECT.”
 
Carl Rogers was so emphatic about this empowering that he would do NOTHING but reflect, not wanting to give the client any temptation to rely upon him as “expert” rather than their own inner experiencing and problem solving.
 
So, if a reflection/interpretation/evocative technique does not “fit” in the moment, does not touch the Focuser’s present felt experiencing in a way that allows carrying-forward, new next steps from inside, to unfold, draws the Focuser out into discussion, disagreement, or argument with the Listener — then, it is not “right” in this moment — although it may become “right” at a later point when the Focuser has moved forward to a new felt Edge that can take it in in a resonating way—
 
Most everything else, I guess, is helpful or unhelpful!  Helpful can be getting it “wrong” in a way that helps the Focuser say more what “it” is like: “No, it’s not that. It’s more like this—” (This can happen even when the Listener says back exactly the Focuser’s words, seemingly perfectly “right”!).
 
Helpful is always going back, after any intervention, especially one that seemed “wrong” in terms of getting the Focuser off the track of felt-sensing, into confusion or arguing or theorizing with the Listener instead of continuing to pay attention to finding words or images for, the present “felt sense.”
 
My articles Caring Confrontation and Focusing Inner Child Work With Abused Clients (free PDF downloads from www.cefocusing.com )trace my attempts to grapple with this issue, of how hard to press, how often to come back to, a “felt experiencing” I have in relation to the client which I think is “Correct” in some way but they say is not “Right.”
 
This is such a great question, I would invite everyone to jump in with their own answer, their own way of saying what is “right” in terms of a Listening Response.

Learn more about Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening and Experiential Focusing Therapy at Creative Edge Focusing’s website, filled with free downloads on creativity, spirituality, collaborative thinking, parenting, innovation in business, and many other aspects of application of Focusing and Listening skills at home, at work, in your community, and globally.

See actual demonstrations of Listening/Focusing in our Self-Help package, a manual in English or Spanish, four CDs of Focusing Instructions, and a DVD with four demonstrations of actual listening/focusing sessions — everything you need to start your own Listening/Focusing Partnership or Support Group or to incorporate these basic self-help skills into existing support groups.

In the side bar at Creative Edge Focusing, subscribe to our free e-newsletter for weekly reminders to practice Relaxation and Focusing exercises and join our free yahoo group, Creative Edge Practice, for ongoing demonstrations, practice, and support.

Find classes/workshops/phone coaching in our Listings section or Coaching/Classes/Consulting with Dr. McGuire

Dr. Kathy McGuire

Creative Edge Focusing

www.cefocusing.com

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