By , March 16, 2009 2:31 pm

Creative Edge Organizations, using The Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid  for application at all levels,  incorporate Interpersonal Focusing for conflict resolution as well as Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening to facilitate creative, innovative problem solving. Interpersonal Focusing can take place in a separate session or right during the flow of a Collaborative Edge Decision Making (CEDM) meeting. But how do you teach Interpersonal Focusing in an actual business or organization, if there are no conflicts evident? How do you introduce it without the stress of a full-blown conflict?

Interpersonal Focusing can involve the use of a Third Person Listening Facilitator mediating between the two people in conflict. Download the entire Interpersonal Focusing Chapter from Focusing In Community: How To Start A Listening/Focusing Support Group. Order the complete manual and multimedia Self-Help Package .

From a Certified Focusing Professional bringing the CEDM model, and Creative Edge Pyramid, into two businesses:

“Can I ask you a question? I have tried to teach the same group that was so happy about CEDM, your Interpersonal Focusing, when people disagree about something. They find it hard to practice the method, without two people really having an argument. Do you have any suggestion how to “train” this skill, listening to another that you have an argument with?

Because the people I teach, they say something like “No, I could never listen in a Focusing way when I am mad at someone”. Maybe just practicing focusing is the best?”

My response: The question is a good one: how do you teach Interpersonal Focusing when there is no conflict going on?

  1. Sometimes I have worked instead on even when one person in the group has strong positive feelings about someone else, like “Wishing I could be like you,” “Thinking you are so self-confident,” etc.  Even hearing this kind of positive information about oneself can be difficult to hear and provide a good exercise in Focused Listening to emotional material.
  2. And you can decide to have a discussion about a topic likely to bring up some conflict. E.g., it is not difficult to find two people who have differing views about politics, for instance, or any other controversial topic.
  3. If this is a group that works together, there can also be a fear of uncovering any negative feelings or interpersonal conflicts, so saying “Oh, we don’t have any of those.” Maybe done the road they would feel safer.
  4. Usually, when I have an ongoing 10-week group, I look for small conflicts we can practice on, as simple as whether we should invite new members, or whether we should have tea and snacks.
  5. Also, if I see a conflict happening, I drop the lesson for the day and practice Interpersonal Focusing right then instead.
  6. You could also have a Focuser work on their feelings about someone outside of the group that makes them really, really mad — so, as Listener, people could at least have the experience of Listening to someone who might be really angry, but it would be less threatening than working on their problems with each other. I think this is a great idea! Getting people used to being around anger when it is not directed at them, getting them used to just reflecting it.

But, you are correct, the more people practice Focusing, in the sense of “owning” their own internal reactions, and Listening, being able to set aside one’s own reactions and really “hear” another, the more these skills will be available when a conflict arises— 

For more on dealing with anger, see  my “yelling at the wall” component in the Passive Listening Turns model  and my Active Listening Turns short article.

Five Minute Grieving might be helpful (what to do if a patient, client, friend, colleague starts crying) and bring up interesting discussion about the role of emotion in business settings.

These are all Instant “Ahah!”s in the sidebar of my website homepage and also in the free download, Instant Ahah Mini-Manual, which you can find below.

Especially in businesses whose work is helping and supporting and healing others, it is important to find a way to nurture those who are trying to help others. That, to me, has always been the great gift of teaching Listening/Focusing to staff — that they can choose to use it to support each other as well!

See my article, “Creative Edge Organizations: Businesses and Organizations As A ‘Kind’ Of Focusing Community” from The Folio: Thirtieth Anniversity Tribute edition at The Focusing Institute, .

You can learn all about Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening with the many resources listed below:


Free Downloads:

Complete Focusing Instructions Manual (17 pages)

“Ajas” Instantaneos Mini-Manual

Creative Edge Focusing ( ) teaches two basic self-help skills, Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, which can be applied at home and at work through The Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid.

Based upon Gendlin’s Experiential Focusing ( ) and Rogers’ Empathic Listening, our website is packed with Free Resources and instructions in these basic self-help skills. Learn how to build Support Groups, Conscious Relationships, and Creative Edge Organizations based upon these basic skills of emotional intelligence.

You can try out    “Focusing: Find Out What Is Bothering You.”

Click here to subscribe to Creative Edge Focusing(TM)’s  Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter and get the latest exercises first!!! 

Click here for a free Intuitive Focusing Mini-Course

Click here for a free Focused Listening Mini-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)

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