April 19, 2024

Art of Questioning

Creative Connections & Client CommunicationsArt of Questioning

In astrology, we work to relate the horoscope to the reality being lived by the client. We use questions to discover the substance of development on an infrastructure of time. That substance comes from the client’s life, not from an astrological textbook. We must find out the actuality and level of the client’s life in order to adapt the planetary guidelines meaningfully and strategically to development in the past and life into the future.

What comes from the astrologer’s brain are creative deductions conditioned by learning, experience, and inspiration. These deductions are connections we make among occurrences, the “stuff” of the measurements. Initially in the consultation, the creative astrologer is ascertaining (confirming) what is already known down deep by the client and, very often, as the scenario develops, reveals what is operational in development but has been overlooked because it is problematic, too bothersome.

The first category of questions includes DIRECT questions, which we can pose in three ways. First, there are the questions that invite a “Yes or No” answer. These questions have a finality and drama about them, and they should be used that way, i.e.,in bottom-line circumstances, “Well, from our discussion, it all adds up to leaving this job, doesn’t it?” But, except in special circumstances wherein you can rely on a client’s talkativeness, the yes-or-no question threatens to stop a conversation cold. There is no development with a “yes” or a “no.”

“Did you get along with your father?” might get a “No,” and that’s that. It might get a “Yes,” and that’s that. The astrologer appears to be groping for significances, appears unprepared. [Listen very carefully to top television interviewers; assess how and why they ask the questions they do; note the results.]

The second way: Asking the questions as an “open ended question” greatly improves the potential of response: “What about your relationship with your father? It’s very important here”; or you can pose the open-ended question in the imperative: “Tell me, please, about the relationship with your father.”

The third way, “the client cue”: Outside your orderly preparation scheme, there is another time to pop such a leading question: by listening to your client’s word choice, you will often spot a key moment into which to interrupt, building on the energy of a particular, key word. For example, your client says, “Well you know, I’m different from what you’d ·” –“Excuse me, why do you think you’re different?” And then, the client may reply with something like, “Well, it’s because in my home, it wasn’t strict enough, and ·” –“What do you mean by ‘strict’?” And from that answer, you would know what was absent in the guidance of authoritative love that our culture ordains comes from the father. In this way, you are taking the consultation along on the energy of the pivot-words and concepts of your client.

The fourth way to ask the direct question is what I call the “Assumptive Question”: “What was the big difficulty, the estrangement or fear here, in your relationship with your father?” might elicit something like, “My father was garbage. He was never there when I needed him, and when he was drunk he would beat my mother, and…” or “Can you imagine that I was the one sent out to find him when he didn’t come home · that drunk · it was horrible how·” [Actual responses].

In the “Assumptive Question”, I am assuming that the relationship with the father in the case at hand was indeed problematic, and the words I suggest here, “estrangement or fear”, cover the three general variables in Saturn-retrograde situations (or, indeed, squares from Saturn to Sun or Moon), being out of the picture, there and passive, or tyrannical. By assuming that this is so, the astrological process gains authority and the astrologer gains credibility.

The assumptive question also avoids the defensive first response that is often given by clients not being readily honest about the paternal feelings long past (or about any other emotionally charged issue): “Well, my father worked so hard and he was always tired, and·” –When I have had to let that defense register, I knew that I would return to the same issue later, when the discussion would have loosened up (trust, disclosure). I can say without any exaggeration that the Saturn-retrograde insight has been valid for 98% of all relevant cases in my experience -significantly, not just more-or-less– in the last 25 years.

[Further study: Tyl, Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology, pages 35-48, 719-721]