When you come to a Circling™ Method workshop for the first time, one thing you’ll notice is how difficult it is to hear another person’s perspective in a way that has THEM feel as if you completely get where they’re coming from.
This is a shocking realization for some people who previously considered themselves ‘good listeners’.
For others, it’s a relief to know that it’s not just them.
As it turns out, everyone struggles with listening and fully getting someone’s world.
The truth is, the conventional ways we’ve been taught to interact with people are designed for efficiency of communication and not deep connection.
And this is a GOOD thing.
If you’ve learned to be an efficient communicator who can summarize what someone else is saying quickly, without hesitation, and get your point across with as little friction as possible, you’re set up to succeed in the professional world.
Your communication skills need to ‘get the job done’ – especially when it comes to clients, colleagues, bosses and staff.
This points to the main difference between traditional ’communication’ versus deep connection.
The conventional way of communicating is all about making your point heard so you can move on to the next thing.
This is because the business world rewards people who don’t get bogged down in ‘talking about work’ and who can get things done.
However, our professional life is only one small part of a complex web of relationships in our digitally-connected daily lives.
In conversation with an intimate partner or close friend, trying to ‘summarize’ their perspective so you can ‘move on’ is a surefire way to hit your head against a relational wall.
The experience of consistently having your unique perspective go unacknowledged (or only partially acknowledged) is a recipe for long-term resentment – and it’s a hard knot to untangle without the right skills.
Even the closest relationships can erode slowly over time, when unchecked assumptions of who you are and what you think are left unquestioned, unspoken and unacknowledged.
The land of ‘Unchecked Assumptions’ is where relationships go to rot. (I’m not exaggerating either. Take a moment to recall the last person who ‘assumed’ all over you. Maybe someone you lived or worked closely with who should know you better. How do you feel about the way they see you?)
Here’s why this matters:
Your unique point-of-view is perhaps the most valuable (and fragile) part of you. It’s the one part of you that can’t be faked – and is also the most vulnerable to criticism and humiliation.
On the one hand, you’ve accumulated years of life experience, you’ve developed a nuanced and complex perspective on the world, and you have a unique one-of-a-kind life path that can never again be replicated or repeated in quite the same way. To really ‘get your world’ takes some careful, deeply compassionate listening.
And on the other hand, you regularly encounter people who say:
“You shouldn’t be angry because __________”
“If you think your situation is bad, you should hear what happened to me once…”
“Have you tried thinking of it XYZ way instead of your way?”
The underlying communication here is pretty clear:
“You shouldn’t think that because… You shouldn’t feel that because… You shouldn’t have your perspective because…”
After 20 years of teaching communication & relational skills, I’ve had the good fortune to witness the deep, transformational power of compassionate, attentive and skillful listening.
I’ve had the unique opportunity to lead over 8000 therapy sessions, mediation sessions and/or Circles (which can last anywhere from 30 min to 3 hours.)
What I’ve learned from observing and facilitating thousands of life-altering conversations is that we all have similar patterns of relating that can either help or hurt our ability to create deep connections with other human beings.
If you’ve ever felt your brain go into lockdown at the prospect of having those ‘crucial conversations’ (whether with an intimate partner, family member, client or colleague) you’re not alone.
Calm, compassionate listening is not something taught in school or university.
After being behind the scenes in thousands of conversations, and learning several different therapeutic & communication modalities, I can earnestly say the 7 Stages of the Circling™ Method are the most powerful & important skills of deep, empathic listening & relating that can be learned by almost anyone.
These ‘relational super-skills’ have the potential to be the difference that makes the difference in your most important relationships.
I hope to be able to share these skills with you at one of our upcoming events!
Korenna & The Circling Institute