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spike bullet December 2014 ~ Helpful Conversations - Part 2

Chapter 2: Social & Helping Conversations
Chapter 3: Directive and Non-Directive Helping Conversations
Chapter 4: Counseling Conversations
Chapter 5: Choosing the Kind of Conversation
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)
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color bulletDecember 2014 ~ Helpful Conversations - Part 2

Last month, we are started a series called Helpful Conversations, based on the work of Regina Wright, a chartered psychologist in Europe.  This series of newsletter articles is based on a one-year university-accredited training program that Regina created for the National School of Government to teach reflective skills and individual feedback.  Her background work for the training is based on the work of John Heron, Carl Rogers and Gerard Egan.  Regina may be contacted at HelpfulConversations [at] hotmail.com or by phone in the UK at 0044 1293 518815 (from the US 011-44-1293-518815)

The training was originally created for counselors and has been adapted for our newsletter series.  Since good  communications skills are important for anyone in business, we are pleased to be able to offer this series for our readers with Regina's permission.  Your feedback is welcome. 

Regina is also offering to give feedback on those who would like to use the newsletter series as an online course and do the exercises in each chapter.  Send your results and comments directly to Regina via email to HelpfulConversations [at] hotmail.com using the Chapter 2-3-4-5 Task List (downloadable Word document).  Regina has graciously offered to review results at no charge to our readers.   

CHAPTER 2: Social & Helping Conversations

Social conversations

Most of our conversations are probably everyday ‘social’ interactions.  They are essentially two-way exchanges in which we talk about our own concerns or those of others, voice our personal opinions, etc.  We may express sympathy, or give advice. Such conversations are characterized by their rules, their skills mix, and their range of conversation topics.

Rules

We know the rules implicitly, though might be hard pressed to spell them out.  The rules that govern social conversation are essentially those of the individuals’ social roles.  They shape who talks to whom first, who talks more, who listens more, and so forth.

Topics

These comprise those that are socially acceptable, which traditionally once excluded the discussion of sex, religion, and politics.  In short, given a transcript of any conversation, it is fairly easy to identify whether or not it is social.

Skills Mix

The full range of communication skills may be employed, but the ‘mix’ (that is the proportion of different kinds of skills used) and the sequence in which they are used will show a pattern characteristic of social conversation. When we looked in detail at Sally’s conversation with Tom, we identified how choosing particular responses shaped the nature of the conversation.  Similarly, we could compare social conversation to the range of helping conversations and identify their differences.  They are set out in the table overleaf [included in the full downloadable file].

Helping Conversations

Helping conversations are essentially those where two people look at one person’s problems.  They are then differentiated by the kind of problems that are looked at and how those problems are approached. Helping conversations vary in their focus.  Some are concerned with the external practical world of resolving a problem and some with the internal world of feelings, meanings, thoughts and inner experience in general.

External world / managerial helping conversations

Here the practical issue is taken at face value and moved on a swiftly as possible.  The focus is on outcome and resolution of the immediate issue.  They include:
  • Managerial
  • Some Advice and
  • Problem-solving kinds of conversations.
Typically, the practitioner will be ascertaining a fair amount of practical information from the client, in particular about the nature of the problem and what attempts the client has made to solve it.  The practitioner is likely to suggest or explore options to move the problem forward or resolve it.  Strategies or action plans may be used.

Internal world / counseling type helping conversations

These conversations focus on the client’s inner experience of the external issue, which may be called ‘the presenting problem.’  The range of such conversations includes:
  • Some Advice
  • Guidance
  • Coaching
  • Advocacy
  • Mediation
  • Consultancy
  • Counseling
  • Psychotherapy.
The practitioner tends to act more as facilitator to:
  • Empower the client
  • Explore any underlying issues
  • Help the client find their own solutions.

Continued in the full Chapter 2, 3, 4 and 5 available for download as a PDF file.  The Chapter 2-3-4-5 Task List (4 page Word document) is available for download if you would like feedback from Regina. 

November 2014 was Part 1 of the series and includes the Glossary. 

Helpful Conversations series ... to be continued ... 

  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books

  • Helping the Client: A Creative Practical Guide.  John Heron.  Sage Publications, 2001.  ISBN: 978-0761972884
  • On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy.  Carl Rogers.  Mariner Books, 1995.  ISBN: 978-0395755310
  • Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory.  Carl Rogers.  Robinson Publishing, 2003.  ISBN: 978-1841198408
  • The Skilled Helper: A Problem-Management and Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping.  Gerard Egan. Cengage Learning (2013). ISBN: 978-1285065717
  • Income Without a Job: Living Well Without a Paycheck.  Michael Jay Anthony, Barbara J. Taylor.  Lulu.com, 2008  ISBN-13: 978-0-557-00377-8.  Website: www.income-without-a-job.com.  Tap into your own creativity and use  your full potential.  Learn how to see opportunities that others miss.   

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter articles:
    August 1997 - Improving verbal communications
    April 2001 - Consulting Skills for Managers
    November 2007 - True Community
    March 2005 - Male/Female Communication at Work
    April 2000 - The Art of Listening

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.
―  Thich Nhat Hanh

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said.  The art of reading between the lines is a life long quest of the wise.
― Shannon L. Alder

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.  The best way to understand people is to listen to them.
― Ralph G. Nichols

Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.
— Phillip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say 
― Bryant H. McGill

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
― Leo Buscaglia

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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Page updated: December 31, 2014      
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