LISTENING 'BETWEEN THE LINES'
I have been preparing for the next Tribe and TAPs workshops lately and I am curious about the connections between them - Power Dynamics, Recognition, Relationship and Resilience, Group Dynamics and Working with Change. I have been exploring speech patterns, interpersonal dynamics, unconscious processes and states of mind. I have re-connected with Ware's work on Contact Doors - how as practitioners if we listen carefully we can hear clues in the client's speech patterns and choice of words and we can respond in ways which are helpful, and avoid the 'trap' door - which is not helpful at all.
As I write this in the middle of October, there is a lot going on in the world ..... which is putting it mildly. There is such uncertainty, confusion and downright scare that we need now more than ever to be able to dive into our resources to support ourselves to get through it.
We need people in our lives who will listen to us as we share our fears and concerns. Those of us who are 'helping professionals' - teachers, coaches, managers, consultants, health professionals etc - also need to apply active listening skills in order to be able to judge when a client (or a friend) is getting close to a crisis of a personal nature so that we can be of most support. And sometimes it is more appropriate to challenge, to encourage our client to distinguish between reality and fantasy, or to help them remember their skill set, their personal attributes. To help them get back on track. Listening is a very powerful skill! Without careful listening we miss what is being said 'in plain sight' (to mix my metaphors .... or something).
If we recognise the speech patterns of let's say a person with a Please People Driver, with practice we can 'meet them where they are' (feelings), and then if appropriate encourage them to stretch into a target place (thinking) and may be the work will be accomplished here. Or perhaps it can be taken further, Ware calls it the trap door (for those with Please People that would be 'behaviour' - if the practitioner goes straight to this the client is likely to shut down. However, if you match (feelings) move (to thinking) and then get to where the work needs to be done (behaviour) then that 'trap' door becomes the 'developmental door' - a place to expand into and where the client needs to focus.
Knowing what to listen out for, identifying the driver speech patterns and having a mechanism for progress enhances our ability to encourage personal growth.
And fundamental to that skill is that of listening - a vastly underrated and overlooked interpersonal gift.
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Lynda Tongue TSTA-org
Learning and Development consultant since 1991. Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst since 2013.