Creative Connections & Client Communications
The Last Five Minutes
I remember vividly playing the first consultation tape for one of Master's Degree Seminar meetings and being startled that applause, cheering, erupted during the last few sentences of the presentation! I quickly realized that this enthusiasm wasn't simply appreciative applause for the consultation process, rather, it was spontaneous reaction to what was happening, to what had occurred, to what was released specifically in the last five minutes of the discussion!
The astrologers listening to the consultation, studying every word, supported by my full annotation of what was going on during the dialogue, felt relieved, exhilarated by the conclusion of the consultation. I felt it too, listening objectively to myself and my client, in intense discussion for some 45 minutes. There was a congratulatory feel on the tape, the strength of understanding, and supportive energies for the time ahead.
The last five minutes of your consultation are extremely important. This is the bridge over which your client returns to his or her world. It's what lingers first and foremost in the mind upon departure. It is probably the first recollection shared by the client with a confidant.
I've had consultations punctuated by clients' tears and anguish, recollections of pain, feelings of despair, intrusions of anger and hate dissolve, by the end of the time we share together through objectification and understanding, into freshness, buoyancy, and determination. The wrap-up, the review, the abbreviated recapitulation in those last five minutes can condition so much life spirit in the time ahead for the client.
I approach the final five minutes in consultation with strict attention to the "3Rs": Review, Reinforcement, and Raising Spirits.
Review Try to review memorably the understandings to which you and your client have come about the client's developmental themes, routines, and structures. Repeat the key images that summed things up at different levels of learning.
-I recently worked with a client -very successful, wealthy, yet worrying constantly about how attractive he was- who brought into his conversation over and over and over again 'how sick he had been' at this time, another time, yet another time. I finally pointed out to him the suggestion that he was defining his identity in terms of sickness rather than in terms of his considerable accomplishments. He was startled with this development of understanding when I suggested that "there was method to his sadness!" Indeed, we got free of that life-long tendency, and I was sure to remind him of the telling epithet at the end of the consultation to summarize where we had been and what we had accomplished. This time, there was a knowing, glowing smile about it!
Reinforcement Here we reinforce the strategies about the near future. With the client just mentioned above, it had to deal with his business plans that really looked active and strong. The key, though, was seeing these continuing business onslaughts as motivated in over-compensation for his deep inferiority feelings from his early homelife. The successes were now to define his matured development, give him the self-aware pride that is so attractive and valuable in his society and business … not the illnesses to attract female sympathy (maternal).
Raise Spirits Make your client feel good about herself, himself. Raise the spirits with applause, with anecdote, with genuine, sincere compliments. -Realize how seldom in our society one receives a compliment from someone else; how seldom we give compliments to others! Believe it or not, some clients have never, ever heard praise, supportive evaluation in their life(!), especially in the early homelife development.
I have had many clients tell me at the end of the consultation, "This is the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me!" Imagine that! How starved so many people are for a pat on the back.
Learn the power of certain phrases like, "You've got lots to do! … or This is an exciting period of time ahead, and I want you to promise to put on your calendar that you're going to call me early in December … no matter what!! … Now, on top of all that we've accomplished here, go home and hug your wife especially strongly; remember: you shared with me all the reasons she has to love you .. the two of you are special together! … I think you're terrific; look at all you've done here, how many difficult spots you've conquered. Congratulations!"
--Indeed, not all consultations work smoothly within the choreography suggested by the last-five-minute outline above. The insurance salesman doesn't always get the contract without emergency measures; construction workers hit their thumb with the hammer; the mailperson is delayed in delivering the package. But the point here is to highlight the five-minute time at the end of the consultation as very important: much can be salvaged there, if necessary; but more often than not, much can be celebrated.
Next Update: September 28, 2001