The Changes Book
The Changes Book: A Handbook for Empathic Listening, Experiential Focusing, and Therapeutic Community
Changes Support Guide Number 1
Some how-to’s for work-oriented meetings
Rules for listening in task-oriented groups – chapter from – The Changes Book: A Handbook for Empathic Listening, Experiential Focusing, and Therapeutic Community, pp.132-136 – by Kathy McGuire – 1970
- First, appoint a process monitor. This person needs to be willing to stay out of the discussion, no matter how heated it becomes, and to concentrate just on helping the others to remember to try the new behaviours. This is done by gently reminding people right in the situation if they are forgetting (“WAIT, you need to ask her to say more,” or “your three minutes is almost up.”). The process monitor needs to be a little brave and needs a watch.
- Agree to limit uninterrupted talking by one person to three minutes, to be timed by the process monitor. This does not apply if someone is asked to say more –then, they get more time. This way, if you want someone to stop so you can have a turn, instead of interrupting them or getting into a hassle with them, you’ll know you only have to wait patiently for three minutes. On the other hand, you’ll know you have a whole three minutes to lay your thing out, if you need that much time. Have the process monitor demonstrate how long three minutes is.
- If you ask someone to say more about their thing, you automatically get the next turn, if you want it. This insures that you get to say your thing, if you only make sure that you really heard theirs first. The more often you can find appropriate times to ask people to say more, the better things will feel. This seems to be the simplest and best thing that we’ve learned about groups.
- The following table includes specific things that you or the other person do that indicate it would be a good time to ask the other person to say more. Stay away from “Who-What-Where-When-Why” questions as much as you can – these tend to make people defensive. Instead, phrase it as “Can YOU SAY MORE?” OR “CAN YOU SAY MORE ABOUT…?”:
|a) If you find YOURSELF||INTERRUPTING|
|b) If you hear YOURSELF saying||“BUT…” “YES, BUT…”|
|c) If you hear YOURSELF saying||“YOU SHOULD…” “HAVE YOU TRIED…?” “WHY DON’T YOU…?”|
|d) If the OTHER PERSON says||“I FEEL SCARED…” “I FEEL WORRIED…” “I FEEL ANGRY…” etc.|
|e) If the OTHER PERSON says||“IT’S SOMETHING ABOUT…” “THIS IS VAGUE, BUT IT’S SOMETHING ABOUT”|
|f) If the OTHER PERSON says||“I HATE YOU!” “YOU’RE JUST POWER HUNGRY!” etc.|
- If you find yourself thinking “I like what she just said” or “That was really brave!” etc., SAY IT OUT LOUD. People need to know their words aren’t going into a vacuum, and need all the support they can get, especially if what they said was risky in the first place.
- If you just can’t get a word in edge-wise, instead of jumping in with your thing, say “I NEED A TURN NOW.”
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