December 2014 ~ Helpful Conversations - Part 2
- Chapter 2: Social & Helping Conversations
- Chapter 3: Directive and Non-Directive Helping
- Chapter 4: Counseling Conversations
- Chapter 5: Choosing the Kind of Conversation
Resources (links, books, articles, the
2014 ~ Helpful Conversations - Part
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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:
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.
Some Advice and
Problem-solving kinds of conversations.
Internal world / counseling type helping
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:
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 ...
- Helping the Client: A Creative Practical Guide. John
Heron. Sage Publications, 2001. ISBN:
- On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy.
Carl Rogers. Mariner Books, 1995. ISBN:
- Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and
Theory. Carl Rogers. Robinson Publishing, 2003. ISBN:
- The Skilled Helper: A Problem-Management and Opportunity-Development
Approach to Helping. Gerard Egan. Cengage Learning (2013). ISBN:
- Income Without a Job: Living Well Without a Paycheck. Michael
Jay Anthony, Barbara J. Taylor. Lulu.com,
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.
Related newsletter articles:
- Improving verbal communications
April 2001 - Consulting Skills
November 2007 - True Community
March 2005 - Male/Female
Communication at Work
April 2000 - The Art of Listening
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
― 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
― Leo Buscaglia
About our resource
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