Video Short Listening/Focusing Session

Human Literacy = Listening To Oneself And Listening To Another

When an individual is using the Intuitive Focusing Skill to problem solve at The Creative Edge, Focused Listening by another person can help carry the whole process of articulation forward.

Based on Carl Rogers' Reflective or Empathic Listening, Focused Listening, the second Core Skill of Creative Edge Focusing ™, is the most simple yet most powerful communication skill you will ever learn.

When people are trying to communicate, struggling with  overwhelming emotion, or trying to solve  problems, nothing is more helpful than hearing their own words back. Then, they can use Intuitive Focusing to check inside and ask themselves, “Is that what I am trying to say?”, “Is that really what I am feeling?” “Is that the right image for this creative problem I am solving?”

The understanding of Gendlin’s Intuitive Focusing has greatly enriched Empathic Listening, so that it is no mere “parroting” of what the other has said.   Reflection includes more than the person’s words. It can also include reflection of aspects of The Creative Edge which the person hasn’t yet been able to put completely into words. The person may be communicating these felt edges through gestures or emotional tone. Also, as the person speaks, metaphors or images may arise in the Focused Listener which seem to capture or point to the Creative Edge.

The Focused Listener can also offer Focusing Invitations which can deepen the Focuser’s ability to contact the Creative Edge.

Focused Listening means not trying to solve the problem for the other person but trusting that the solution is already implicit in the person’s own Creative Edge. No outside solution could be as relevant or as likely to be able to be carried out in action than that arising from The Creative Edge.

The Focused Listening Skill involves learning to set aside all your usual reactions, your opinions, judgments, advice, suggestions and just say back, or “reflect,” what the other person is trying to say.  The Listener can also help by giving Focusing Invitations to the Focuser.

Yes, everyone thinks they know how to do listen, but, really, when was the last time you really listened to another person, or that someone really listened to you?   

Four Basic Kinds of Listening Response

The Focused Listening skill as Dr. McGuire teaches it, which combines Gendlin’s Focusing with Rogers’ Reflective Listening, includes four different possible kinds of responses by the Listener:

(a)     Pure reflective listening:

Video Reflective Listening

Saying back, sometimes word for word, sometimes as a  paraphrase, what the person is saying, as well as “guessing at” the more vague, murky Creative Edges  conveyed through emotion, gesture, and metaphorical language.
Pure reflection can also be used to help another person to find  innovative solutions in creative, as opposed to emotional, problem solving. The Focuser sits with The Creative Edge, the murky, intuitive “feel” of the whole Gestalt, and attempts to make new words and images using the Intuitive Focusing skill. The Focused Listener can reflect back the Focuser’s actual words as well as the less-clear nuances, until the Focuser finds exactly the right new symbolizations to capture The Creative Edge.

Focuser: “There is something about the mechanical execution of this model that is not going to work….I don’t know what it is, but I can sense it. I’m uneasy about it…
Listener: “So there’s an uneasiness there…something not right about the mechanical execution…”

Focuser: (sitting quietly, pondering at the Creative Edge…..) “All I get so far is an image of red intertwining with white, two triangles intersecting…”
Listener: “So there’s an image…two triangles intersecting…red and white intertwining…”

Focuser: (some excitement in voice, opens eyes) Let me draw that (starts drawing with pen and paper, grabs red and white chalk….soon, a gear-like drawing emerges)….(evident excitement) Yes, it’s something there , in that gear box!!!
Listener: “So, you can see clearly now…it’s something in that particular gear box…”

Focuser: (closes eyes) “Let me sense into that some more (sits quietly, pondering at The Creative Edge…over a minute…)…something, something twisty there….”
Listener: “Twisty….”

Focuser: (more closed-eyed Focusing, pondering at The Creative Edge…minute or more…sighs, shifts in seat…more pondering….)”Hmmmm….I think I’m getting it….something about the ratios there, the red too dominant over the white…”
Listener: “The ratios….red over white….”

Focuser: “I’ve got it…needs to be 8:6!”

Clearly, the Listener doesn’t even have to understand what the Focuser is talking about, but, still, having that outside person offering Reflection can carry forward the process of creating new symbolizations out of The Creative Edge.

Even though Focused Listening allows the Listener to occasionally use the following other kinds of responses, pure reflection is still the most powerful form of response to someone using Intuitive Focusing at The Creative Edge.

Rule of Thumb: The Listener should give three pure reflections for one of any of the following responses. The rhythm should be reflection, reflection, reflection…something else…reflection, reflection, reflection

(b) Asking for More:

Video Demo Four Types of Response

However, sometimes pure reflection is not enough. The Focuser just circles and circles around the same statement, nothing new coming:

Focuser: “I know it’s related to the pressure I feel to come up with an answer soon.”
Listener: “It’s related to the pressure…an answer needed soon.”

Focuser: “It’s just so much pressure…I can’t handle it…”
Listener: “It’s the pressure….more than you can handle.”

At such a point, the listener can try Asking for more about some word that seems to have “neon lights” around it, to hold more implicit meaning:

Listener: “Can you say more about “the pressure”…exactly what that is like?”
Focuser: “Ah…..thanks (pause for Intuitive Focusing) …It’s always the same…as soon as I hear the project announced, I get this tension in my stomach, like, ‘It has to be done tomorrow…’, even if no one is setting a deadline like that…seems it’s my deadline…”

Listener: “So now it seems like maybe that ‘pressure’ is coming from inside… immediately get a tension in your stomach, before anyone else even names a deadline…it always has to be done right away!”
Focuser: (more closed-eyed Focusing, sitting with The Creative Edge)…..Let me just try to sense into that ‘tightness’ in my stomach, see what it has to say…”

Listener: “So you want to sit with that ‘tightness,’ let it speak….”

You can see how just asking for more about words that repeat and repeat can open up a whole new avenue deeper into The Creative Edge.

(c)  The Focusing Invitation:

Sometimes, again only once in a while, when pure reflection does not seem to be helping the Focuser go more deeply into The Creative Edge, the listener can make an intervention even slightly stronger than just asking for more.

In using a Focusing Invitation, the Focused Listener goes one step further, asking the Focuser to stop talking entirely and just quietly turn attention inward in a Focusing way, stopping just to “sit” quietly at The Creative Edge, giving time for the murky, unclear Edge to form more clearly. Focusing Invitations sound like “Could you just stop talking for a moment and sense into that whole thing….”, “Would it be okay to ‘sit’ at the Edge of that anger for a moment and see what comes?”, “What’s the feeling that goes with that….?”

So, in the example above, the Focuser gave himself a Focusing Invitation, saying “Let me just try to sense into that ‘tightness’ in my stomach, see what it has to say….” If he had not done so, eventually the Focused Listener might have given the Focusing Invitation : “Would it make sense to stop and just sense into that ‘tightness’ in your stomach, seeing what it has to say?”

(d) The Personal Sharing:

It’s hard to even mention the possibility of Personal Sharings, because they can include all the typical responses that were outlawed when the listener set aside all his or her personal assumptions and advise in order to just reflect the symbolizations of the Focuser.

However, especially if you are being the Listener for a turn longer than 20 minutes (the minimum for the Focuser to take a good stab at finding his or her own new solutions through Intuitive Focusing with Focused Listening), sometimes it just seems that a certain piece of information which the listener has or a strong intuition of the listener or a similar experience that the listener has been through might be a good piece of the puzzle for the Focuser to have at a particular time….

So, in such a situation, the Focused Listener can ask the Focuser, “Can I offer a Personal Sharing?” and, only if the Focuser gives the go ahead, offer the idea or fact or intuition or personal story in a short form--- BUT ONLY TO RETURN IMMEDIATELY TO PURE REFLECTION. The Focuser must be encouraged to go immediately back to The Creative Edge and ask, “Does that fit for me?...Is that helpful?....Where am I now?” It is essential that the Focuser not being distracted away from The Creative Edge to argue about or get a fuller description of the listener’s Personal Sharing .

The Focusing Attitude

Central to both Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, and over-arching any application of rules, steps, or procedures, is an attitude of empathy, respect, and non-judgmental acceptance of anything and everything that comes up in a Focusing Turn. When using Intuitive Focusing alone, the Focuser’s own internal Focused Listener must turn toward his or her own inner experiencing with this Focusing Attitude of unconditional acceptance and respect. When serving as the Focused Listener for another, the Listener must adopt this same Focusing Attitude.

Fathers Pete Campbell and Ed McMahon, creators of Biospiritual Focusing, used the following imagery when teaching this basic Attitude, which they called “A Caring, Feeling Presence”:

Imagine that you have found an abandoned infant on the steps of your hospital. Imagine how you would, through your bodily attention, convey complete acceptance and love and safety to this infant: “You are totally wanted in this world and safe with me.” Now, turn this same kind of loving attention toward your inner experiencing.

Sound too touchy-feely? Well, no one else needs to know you are doing it – but this non-judgmental acceptance is what allows another person, be it friend, lover, colleague, or customer, or yourself as The Focuser, to go more and more deeply into either creative or emotional problem solving.

Focusing Partnerships, Focusing Groups/Teams, Focusing Communities

Some people choose to continue practicing Focusing in a Listening relationship, or Focusing Partnership, even though they have learned to do Intuitive Focusing on their own. And many people learn Intuitive Focusing most easily in the company of a Focused Listening partner. They may find one long-term listening/focusing partner with whom they exchange Focusing turns every week or they may be a part of a Focusing Group or Focusing Community, where several people meet to “check in” on events of the week and then break into pairs or triads to exchange Listening/Focusing turns. In either situation, turns are shared: I listen to you while you focus, then you listen to me while I focus for an equal amount of time.

In a Focusing Community, listening / focusing norms are applied to interpersonal conflicts and group decision making process. People talk about their feelings openly and honestly and are protected by no interruption/ no judgment norms. People are encouraged to ask for what they want. They also learn to say “no” and to respect the boundaries of others.

Focusing Community, with its norms of appreciating diversity and encouraging individual and group/team creativity, can grow equally as well in home and work situations. Participants come to know both the unique and the universally human about other people. Conflicts can be worked through with the help of a third person as a listening facilitator. Decisions are made with an emphasis upon listening to each person’s needs and encouraging articulation of The Creative Edge of innovative problem solving.
Participants begin to support each other in many aspects of their lives. They practice more functional ways of relating and take these skills back to other relationships.

Learning Focused Listening

Click on the icons in the sidebars to download the Instant “Ahah!”s Mini-Manual for more simple Listening exercises and to join The Creative Edge e-discussion/ support group for ongoing demonstrations and advice.

Order our Self-Help Package, with manual and multi-media bonuses, which gives explicit instructions, examples, and demonstrations of the Focused Listening Core Skill and its application in the seven methods of Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid, such as Focusing Partnership, Interpersonal Focusing and Collaborative Edge Focusing Decision Making.

While you can  try the Listening/Focusing Exchange (the Focusing Partnership method)  with a willing other person, additional practice with a Creative Edge Focusing Consultant can help you polish these skills, either through phone Coaching or through classes or workshops in your area.

CE Focusing Consultants can also help you to integrate the PRISMS/S Focusing Process, with Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing as Core Skills, throughout your organization or corporation, using Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid of skills and methods. Click on FREE Phone Consult for Dr. McGuire’s help in planning your next steps in learning and using Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening.

Want to learn more about Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing?

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These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.