#2 Where Are You Looking?
#2 Using my gestalt lens this time and at a much more subtle level, I have noticed people tend to go where they are looking, not so much looking where they are going these days. My advice is to pay attention to where and what we are looking at or for. Looking with expectations is not the same as just noticing or close attending.
Whether being simply distracted, paying attention to too many things at once, or perhaps a 'seen that one before' bias in play can all seriously interfere with us getting the most accurate and complete picture of the someone sitting right in front of us.
When a client's story begins to sound or feel familiar, this might be a point where we start to slip from their story, to someone else's (perhaps our own or another person we have also worked with). These narratives may be merging and confusing us without noticing this as our own confusion. When we notice that we are already planning how we will approach this issue, we may have actually already stopped listening and unintentionally missed the content of their next part of their story.
The good news here is that it is not too late to fix. To do so requires refocusing back to that other person in the room, or on the screen, or on the phone, and rejoin them where they are. I have had to confess many times to clients that I got distracted by one part of what they were sharing and missed what they had shared next. Then I had to ask them if they would be willing to repeat what they had just told me. A truly humbling experience but very real, and most clients had appreciated the honesty.
When we are at our best taking in everything our clients share with us, we are all there with them observing, listening, sensing and imagining what it might have been like for them going through all of that. We are fully present and holding space for them to share it in their own way and time, even when perhaps not conforming to our own preferred schedules.
Accompanying them on this journey of theirs' is much more about following than leading. Yes there will of course be times when they will need us to lead, using our knowledge and experience to inform us of where they may need to go is part of what they expect of us as professionals and why they came to see us. They know what they can see, but when things don't make sense to them because they can't yet see what they can't yet see, that 's when they need our perspective and guidance to help them make sense of what is happening. Our skilled and deliberate presence is perhaps the most important support we have to offer them.
Now our challenge is to pair these two different sets of data. Take in what they know and have shared with us, and put it together with what we know from out training and experience to zero in on what help we could offer them for their specific situation at this time. I call this leading from the back, or following. I find this approach helps us arrive together at where they are and what help we may be able to offer them today. This proposed plan to help them get where they want or need to go (the helping contract) is perhaps the most useful help we can offer them while accompanying them on their journey. This is our own version of the sports analogy "don't take your eyes of the ball", while noticing which ball you are following,
That's it for this time. I'll be back on September 1st, to offer a tool for working with conflict. I hope you found something of value to you from this expanded nugget and you'll join me for this next one too. Comments are always welcome, Ciao. David