Who Would Benefit from My Undivided Attention? Perhaps it is Myself?

by Sheila on July 24, 2011

Today I will be here, prepared to be nowhere else.

Do you experience this:  You are politely quiet, looking at the person talking, and you may actually think you are listening.  But are you?  Often what we are doing is actually simply “waiting for our turn to talk.” So the opposite of talking is not listening…it’s waiting to talk.

If we want to accomplish great things in our organizations and in our personal lives, we must come to terms with a very basic human need:  We must recognize that humans share a universal longing to be known and, being known, to be loved.

Among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa, the most common greeting is the expression: “sawu bona,” which literally means, “I see you.”  A typical response from a tribemate is “sikhona” or “I am here.”  The order of exchange is important: until you see me, I do not exist.  It’s as if, when you see me, you bring me into existence.

To be seen. We are rarely seen, even by those who love us. What I find most compelling about integral coaching is how the process of an intake and then an offer conversation allows the client to be seen – maybe for the first time in their lives and by someone very new in their lives. It is amazing. As a client and coach I have experienced this and I truly believe it is a phenomenon unique to integral coaching.

We must transform the way we speak, the way we ask and the way we listen by really asking and really listening – being prepared to be nowhere else.

One conversation at a time we are building, destroying, or flatlining our relationships.  It is possible, however, to create high-intimacy, low-maintenance relationships – one brief conversation at a time.

In thinking about the post about coming out from behind myself of last week, I notice that often I attempt to simply be polite.  Or, I’m too self-conscious.  Or, too self absorbed. Or, too politically correct (OK, less this). Or, just to cautious. We, unconsciously, often end our conversations as soon as we initiate them, too afraid of what we might say or hear.

Does any of this sound or feel familiar for you?

Being with someone prepared to be nowhere else takes a heck-of-a lot-of courage.  We need to be really prepared to hear the response and then repond in turn, addressing some potentially difficult or complex topics.

So where do we get the courage? Well, for me simply recognizing that if I check out now, I’ll pay the price later in some way – it will manifest…bigger most likely.

Just a note:  One of the most important conversations we can have is often to tell someone how important they are to us – how much we value and love them. This is often more difficult than bringing up concerns.  So, this might be your only exercise in the coming week.  Make a list – who do you need to talk with?

I’m not exactly a John Mayer fan, although he is obviously very talented, both in song writing and singing.  I recently watched a dance routine to his song, Say.  Take a look here:

Click here for direct link

There is such wisdom in these words and the dance communicates this even more vividly.


Think of a one-to-one conversation you might like to have or believe you need to have. Schedule it.

Ask yourself what you need to do to be fully present for this.  Begin with asking THEM:

  1. What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about?
  2. Describe the issue – what’s going on?
  3. How it is currently impacting you? Or others?  Stay current.
  4. When you consider these impacts, how do you feel?
  5. If nothing changes, what are the implications? Ask about their feelings about possible outcomes if not addressed.
  6. How have you helped create this issue or situations? Don’t judge them EVER. Let them express.
  7. What is the ideal outcome? When this is resolved, what difference will it make? Always ask,”what else”? Always ask how it feel when they consider these questions and their responses.
  8. What’s the most potent step you can take to begin to resolve this issue?

Here are some common “mistakes” you might want to keep in mind:

  • Doing most of the talking. Don’t. It’s that simple.
  • Taking the problem away from them.
  • Not inquiring through the whole process about “feelings.” Always ask. Don’t judge.
  • Delivering unclear messages. You will deliver few or none; however, if you do have something to add, do it clearly and succinctly.
  • Canceling.  Don’t. This is important. They are. Your actions will tell the story.
  • Allowing interruptions. You know what to shut off here – cell phone, etc.
  • Running out of time. If a 2nd conversation is needed, schedule it. Allow plenty of time.

Can’t go away without a quote, right?

The experience of being  understood, versus interpreted (or interrupted – my add), is so compelling, you can charge admission.

-B. Joseph Pine, II

For those email subscribers, please click on the blog title in your email to go to my site to see the vid and/or leave a comment.  Would love some comments!

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