Originally, I had contacted Kathy McGuire to interview her on the topic of empathy. As we talked about what this might entail, we decided to practice what we preach: We did not rush into doing the interview, and we took time to process what we wanted to accomplish through this project. As a result, the project evolved into a series of short videos illustrating various kinds of listening and empathy.
We structured this demo into a sequence of videos. Through them, we would like you to notice that:
– 1) Even simple listening, “passive listening” without interruptions, allow speakers to naturally begin entering into direct reference to felt experience and explication from there.
– 2) Active empathic listening takes this natural felt sensing a step further, as the speaker checks the listeners words against their felt reference and articulates anew.
– 3) When the speaker knows Focusing, then empathic listening helps the Focuser stay with, check, resonate and articulate their felt sense in the deepest way.
In watching the videos, please pay attention to the central role of the pause: Notice how taking a pause opens up direct access to felt experience. In this context, felt sensing is the natural outcome of the pause. As is empathy.
Video 1: Passive listening
Video 2: Active listening
Video 3: Listening with empathy, in a Focusing way
Video 4: Focusing (cont’d)
By doing this as a demo, we hope to convey the freshness of the experience, as opposed to just talking about it. We also hope that this will show people who do not yet know Focusing how natural and normal this process is… i.e. something that people can relate to, and learn to be better at (as opposed to an esoteric skill).
Is the above “just” about listening? Hopefully, these videos convey a sense of how deeper creativity and change can come through these three different simple forms of listening: passive listening; active listening; focusing listening.
These skills can be also brought directly into interpersonal conflicts: Somebody who has seen our passive and active listening videos might jump in as a “third person listening facilitator.” Similarly, these skills can be used in group decision-making situations, as the Quakers do with “passive listening.”
Dr. Kathy McGuire trained directly with Dr. Eugene Gendlin, creator of Experiential Focusing. She did her dissertation with him on “Listening and Interruptions in Task-Oriented Groups.” Together, they and others created the first Changes Listening/Focusing self-help community. While practicing as a Focusing-Oriented Therapist, Dr. McGuire has also followed her life-long mission of bringing Listening and Focusing self-help skills into every area of living, as represented on her website for Creative Edge Focusing.
She has a special fascination and expertise in bringing the “revolutionary pause” for felt experiencing into personal and group decision-making situations.
Dr. McGuire is the author of many articles and the manuals, Focusing in Community: How To Start A Listening/Focusing Support Group (also in Spanish) and The Experiential Dimension in Therapy, and editor of The Changes Book: A Manual For Empathic Listening, Experiential Focusing, and Therapeutic Community. She offers a free e-course at her website.
Audio: All 4 parts together:
Published June 2017