The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Have you seen this?

Recently I had a conversation with a team member who was seeking my understanding of his situation.

While listening I could hear how his voice started to shift to a higher tone and the number of words per second was increasing. I knew that he was experiencing pain and wanted to get rid of it. With his emphasis, he was trying to give more weight to his desire for confirmation. He wanted to be sure that he had done everything right and yet found himself in really a bad situation.

Slowly we shifted the conversation to a simple description of the facts I could understand from his description. We worked to see the simple reality of what had been happening. Once we had assessed them, we could look at options going forward. He had felt responsible for solving a problem that was not within his responsibility.

We didn’t discuss any solutions as that would have been an intrusion into his life and his ability to manage it by himself. His quest had been one of being heard not one of being told what to do.

The work we did in our conversation was to constantly go back to his experience and what he was seeing and could describe. That’s less easy than it sounds. The challenge is to avoid interpretations, evaluations, or judgments as they all would have been premature. However, when people share their stories, they’ll easily step into the story they tell themselves. And judgments, interpretations, and evaluations will easily pop up, diverting the conversations from the facts that an experience can tell. Among these facts, emotions play a key role.


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