|This is a powerful technique to get quickly to the bottom line in reading people and situations. When you ask an open question like “what’s new with you?”, the response you receive will typically be a story or two that are currently grabbing their attention. The surface or content of the story is not the core of the issue. The deeper kernel of truth is inside those stories, waiting to be revealed by a skilled listener.
The Content of A Story
The stories we tell contain four aspects:
1. A person or persons
2. An emotional charge
3. A place
4. A time
How can we distill this truth kernel from a story?
I will share part of a session with a client (shared with permission) to illustrate how it’s done. When I asked what was going on in her life, she told me about the difficulties she was having with her mother, who had recently begun to lose her memory and clearly needed help as she entered this very fragile stage of life. When I asked how she felt about her mother’s situation, she replied that she experienced guilt because her mother lives 300 miles away and had made it clear that she didn’t want to be a burden to her children. In addition, my client had no desire to disrupt her life and move in with her mother, yet could not help but feel she was being remiss in her duties as a daughter.
When I asked her what else was going on in her life, she said she was feeling frustrated because the man she had been seeing was not as available to her due to work and other obligations. And when I probed her for one more piece of her life, she shared that she was concerned about her company. She saw the possibility of needing to do a series of layoffs, and my client was less than thrilled at the prospect.
The Basic Elements
What if each of the persons in this story are telling us something about the speaker? Part of her, for example, may feel just like her mother. Or like the work colleagues about to be laid off.
Then peel back the charge. What if we remove the apparent positive or negative charge and see what is present just as energy? And what if all places and all time references are telling us about what is happening here now?
We are left with I-Energy-Here-Now. You have distilled all the ‘yada yada’ down to what is sitting right in front of you: this client encountering all these experiences right in front of you.
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