April 19, 2024

A Communication Therapy

Creative Connections & Client Communications
A Communication Therapy

Think of the people you know who have difficulty speaking with feelings, about feelings. They may speak with words and vocal sound lacking the feel of grace, humanity, and empathy, perhaps with minimal humor; nothing but dispassionate descriptions. Perhaps you can include yourself on the list!

Not being able to speak easily about feelings does not imply someone is a misfit. It simply points up that the vocabulary and sound and style of communication within the parental model were probably that way too. Just as we inherit strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and so much about our body and health profiles from our parents, we also inherit comfort or discomfort with emotional expression, reactions within an emotional spectrum; we experience or do not experience the invitation to closeness signaled by empathic communication.

[You are under stress. You call the IRS, your Doctor, your estranged spouse, your new relationship person. How do you want THEM to sound when you talk with them? –That’s what we’re talking about here!]

How one speaks, expresses oneself, determines so very much of our life’s quality and rewards. For us in our work specifically, communication management determines so much how an astrologer reaches the client.

An Example, please: every day for lunch at a local sandwich shop, I enjoy a conversation circle with from four to eight others. The conversation can often be very sophisticated, there can be high humor, an exhilaration in camaraderie. Everyone has a conversational dessert, and we all feel good. A new gentleman in the group (with Mercury peregrine) has an encyclopedic memory of practically photographic intensity, and he talks constantly, often obtrusively … but only about dead facts.

This gentleman never speaks of, never shows, never reacts to beauty, emotional significance, dreams, hopes, feelings, etc. His speech style and sound are intriguing for their data content but are about as dry as a Popsicle stick in the Sahara! –Interestingly, it is no surprise to learn that his career was as a Police captain in New York City. The non-emotional style was certainly at a premium in that work.

All of us in the circle have reacted to this, wondering why the emotional dryness is present, what kind of marriage(s) could there have been in this man’s life, etc.

There are astrologers who have difficulty speaking with warmth in their everyday life, as well as with their clients. It’s not their fault, it is because of the parental model, etc. But it is their fault by not fixing up this powerful faculty to become more effective and confident in their otherwise fine astrological service. –Just think of your client’s reaction to how you speak and express yourself! Record one of your consultations and listen to it.

Similarly, so many of us and our clients can fix up our way of speaking and expressing ourselves in order to be more appreciated for greater dimension in our personality, to be included more in social groups etc. –Improvement in expression fosters togetherness, leading to intimacy and rich relationship. [Just think of the male stereotype that endures still in our society: men don’t cry, feel, speak of love, etc. See “Intimacy, Sexuality and Relationship”]

Here’s a pleasant, effective therapy you can use for yourself and certainly show and recommend to your clients who have the need to improve the dimension of their communication, especially in terms of warmth, emotion, and sensitivity, exhibiting empathy and inviting relationship.

I call this therapy the “Talk-Me-a-Picture!” exercise.

This therapy idea/practice was born within me many, many years ago, with my piano teacher. I was 14, playing well, getting all the notes, etc. One day, my teacher said to me after I had played my homework piece for him, “Noel, you’ve got all the notes, but it just isn’t interesting. Let’s do something here: make up a story, tell me a story of a vacation you had somewhere on a mountain in … in… Mexico!”

Now, I had never been to Mexico, of course! My teacher was pushing me dramatically to turn on my imagination, my aesthetic sense. I began, “ Well, I … uh … I remember taking a tour on donkeys, and went way up to a high cliff where…” My teacher interrupted, “What was the weather like? What did you feel like on the donkey? Were you scared? Were you trusting the donkey that it wouldn’t walk off the cliff????? Make it interesting, Noel! Show me what you’re feeling!”

My teacher prodded me into all kinds of details that enriched my story. In turn, I responded more and more, because now he was finding my story interesting!!!!!!

I remember it so vividly. I loved the exercise!. –THEN, he said, “OK. Thank you! That’s terrific!” NOW, play the piece again for me as if you are telling me an exciting story!

Then, years later, a companion experience took place in a conversation with Leonard Bernstein, whose televised lectures about music were spellbinding. I asked Mr. Bernstein what he thought made his speech so effective. He replied, “I keep my verbs simple … and my adjectives … flamboyant!”

Tragically here in the United States, because of decaying education standards and practice, the young and many older do not know what an “adjective” is, that descriptor word that modifies words that refer to things, so that we can have a ‘gorgeous, expansive, multi-flowered mountain meadow” or ‘a soul-wrenching, forlorn message sent by tired, lonely eyes.’

Interesting talk –usually when what is being said has emotional content– is captivating, important, memorable. It reveals inner dimension. It exhibits and invites empathy. It brings people closer together. –We need this skill; and so do many of our clients.

I have developed this therapy over the years to this level …”Talk Me a Picture”:

[For yourself, or for a client] Each day for two weeks, play a piece of classical music or study a painting in an art book, a photograph in a photography book or splendid magazine (even advertisements will do!), or read a poem … get so you understand the music, the painting, the photo, the poem … or two or three of them. Listen to the explanatory words in your mind. THEN, write a description of your point of appreciation; write 200 words, edit them, and then read your “review” aloud two times.

Keep the exercises in a notebook.

Do this each day for two weeks: study, appreciate, write, read aloud two times. This exercise establishes fresh ways of thinking, evaluating, expressing. New words are brought into the front lines of communication. One hears these words coming out of one’s feelings. A new dimension is added to communication.

**It is most gratifying to see what this exercise brings forth: confidence with emotional vocabulary, recognition of aesthetic dimensions, empathy with emotional, human drama, recognition of things beautiful; the freed ability to give (and receive) compliments. Watch for the capacity to smile with words. –It is so obvious how this helpful for anyone deficient in the capacity of expressive communication. Just think how deeply you will be able to “touch” your client.

It works! –And the extension out of this exercise is to pay a compliment to someone at least once a day …perhaps three or four times a day …starting with the spouse or the children!!!!!!! It becomes new-you habit.

It works. It works. –And, my goodness!, it’s important. We are mediums one to another, in this shared existence, and, so often, the medium is the message.