January 10, 2009

"You must have a good reason to . . ."

".... When you feel your own lecturing and urge to educate without being invited by the client welling up inside of you, even though they are all with good intentions, instead slow down and catch yourself before you utter the usual preachy word and begin with a sentence that starts with . . . "You must a good reason to . . ." (drink too much, lose your temper, slap your child, wanting to kill yourself) and listen carefully to the client's answers. My experience is that some very bright and perceptive clients will catch on and immediately begin to either burst out laughing or say things like, "Not really, but I do drink a lot," and then explain what he or she must do to correct the situation. Of course this makes our job easy since we just need to follow up with . . . "What have you been thinking about doing, for a starter . . . ?" Some clients who have been hearing a great deal of "preaching" about what he or she ought to do, automatically begins to defend himself by listing all the "good reasons (or what others call them "excuses"). It is helpful to listen carefully to these and keep asking for more and more "good reasons." Most clients tick off 5 or 6 "good reasons" and then begin to repeat themselves. When you are patient, waiting for more "good reasons," then eventual arrive at the conclusion that you are not going to reprimand, cajole, or demand that he or she change. Many clients will say, "Actually, you know, I drink too much." Once the client has reached this point, then you can discuss what some ideas for solution might be the right approach to take."

~Insoo Kim Berg, 25 July 1934 -10 January 2007

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