July 4, 2009

Quote by Lao Tzu

"To lead people walk behind them."

Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher, central figure in Taoism, lived in the 6th century BC.

Some solution-focused principles work so well that I am convinced that people throughout history us must have also noticed them. Because I am interested in checking this notion I am always on the lookout for ancient references to solution-focused principles. This quote by Lao Tzu relates to the principle of leading the client from one step behind (Cantwell & Holmes, 1994; De Jong & Berg, 2008). By using this metaphor we want to illustrate how we let the client determine the direction, the content and the pace of the conversation. The client says something and we follow closely.
We always stay just one step behind. By asking questions we help the client to keep choosing the right direction and pace. We are very reluctant to ever overtake the client. Once we´d do that, the client would notice directly that something had changed in the conversation. Instead of working at his pace he´d suddenly have to adjust to ours. Generally that´s disturbing and does not work well. Every now and then we might give the client a ´gentle tap on the shoulder´ for instance when we ask something like: what will be different further down the road? (How will you know you’ll be higher on the scale?).

1 comment:

  1. Of the therapists, was it Erickson who first said, "Lead one step behind?" If so (and if not), does anyone have the reference for the quote (year and page number)? Thanks.

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