Creative Connections & Client Communications
Asking the Surprising Question
A key modality in the consultation process, bringing the horoscope to the client’s life, is to stimulate disclosure. That’s the only way the astrologer can learn and appreciate the reality being lived by the client. It’s like turning a kaleidoscope: we have all the patterns before our eyes, but several turns are needed to create fine-edge focus and complete relevance of the design. THEN, the horoscope embraces the life development.
We do this through dialogue, through creative questioning and creative listening. –Please see Tyl-The Creative Astrologer. Also, please see “Counseling Insights” [Menu] Archives, July 15, 1999.
One of the great detours/mistakes taken/made by astrologers is concentrate on describing the client. The analyst does NOT describe the client; that’s a one-sided fortune-telling posture. Instead, we identify the client by asking questions creatively, questions that require more than a Yes-or-No answer. This is how discussion and disclosure begin. This is how we bring the horoscope TO life.
For example: observing an Eastern Hemisphere orientation [see “Analytical Techniques”, Archives: July 15, 1999; Synthesis & Counseling in Astrologypages 5-34] with Pluto square, conjunct, or opposed the Moon is going to relate the defensive life posture of the client to a primal cause of an intrusive mother or confining female relationship during the formative years. –We don’t just say that. We offer, “The horoscope suggests a defensive posture here, emerging out of your development, especially in those early years. What was the role your mother played in the development of that posture?”
It is easy to see the reward potential of that approach. And –if you are a creative listener—magic happens during your client’s response.
Sometimes the question can be “surprising,” “unusual”.
Recently, sitting at dinner with six people –certainly not an astrological consultation atmosphere—I found myself feeling a bit uncomfortable with the lady to my left, foreign born, wearing tight rings on each Saturn finger. [See “Notebook,” for July 15, 1999.]
The lady seemed emotionally tight, a bit aloof; afraid to open up; perhaps intimidated somehow by the setting and people present.
I asked her the polite questions about her husband, her work, and then I tried something: I asked the surprising question as if we were in a consultation. I asked it calmly, non-dramatically, and waited patiently for the answer without any sign at all that the question was un-expectable.
“How many children do you have?”
…And here it comes, gently, matter-of-factly, “Why?
There was a fleeting moment of surprise, I think, but the lady kept it in check and proceeded to answer this way: “Well, the third child … we hadn’t really planned it, but we felt the soul of that child waiting around us somehow, you know, to be born through us. My husband had some difficulty with that, but we talked about it a lot, and then the child was indeed conceived and born and …”
Out came this richly dimensioned story which opened the lady up beyond her customary privacy and discipline. All of this, just because I asked “Why”, when no one in the world would ask that! --It seemed to me that the woman enjoyed telling the story: it showed more of who she was.
Another example –and I have used this technique/question many times: a man –married, with a family-- was troubled with very difficult self-worth concepts for many years. Opportunities for professional advancement –a new life chapter—were presenting themselves. Who would go forward? The “old” self-deprecating man or someone refreshed, unloading the excess weight that hung around his neck routinely?
Our conversation slowed down, and there was a moment of stillness. My client was sad. Everything had registered: the depressed way of seeing himself, how that communicated to others, and more.
I said, calmly and quietly, “George, let me ask you a question that might surprise you.”
He nodded permission.
“All things considered, George [and it is wise to use the client’s name at such a poignant moment of identity focus], why does your wife love you?”
--Well, you could have heard a pin drop across town! George raised his eyes and met mine, his look supported by a faint, knowing smile. I just waited as his mind –his unconscious and conscious faculties—whirred to answer that surprising question, which he probably had never ever thought of before!
And, then, George began to tell me --and himself-- just why his wife and children loved him and respected him, how different that was from his early homelife and upbringing, and more. And we began to discuss how that could be remembered daily and how those feelings and refreshed self-awareness could be brought front and center in his new image for the opportunities ahead.
And then, there is the “What if” technique. The client can be telling you quite a tale about relationship discord or problems at the office, all focused somehow on certain behaviors, attitudes, or ways of communicating that are habitual, unthinking, routined with her or him. Obviously, you realize that if the customary behavior can be changed –and the client might not even be aware of the off-putting nature of that behavior— reactions to the client will change. [It can be something as elementary, as basic, as table manners or turns of phrase, which are habitually unbecoming.]
Say to your client, “OK. I think I understand what you’re saying. Now let me ask you this: “What if you ____________. What would happen then?”
You outline with enthusiasm some changes in the observed behavior; you ask how his image would change and what that would mean.”
For example, I counseled with an executive once who had a deep problem that manifested in a pesky way of referring to his work: he simply didn’t believe he was in a respectable profession, as a senior salesman for an industrial corporation. I traced this attitude back to his father’s adamant warning long before that salesmen were frowned upon in society and that he would doom his life and his family status to secondary levels if he pursued “sales.” My client, every time he referred to business activities, strategies, and gambits would say, “And all that garbage.”
Now think how people around him felt about the work they were doing when they heard him referring to “all that garbage.”!!! --It was surprising to me that my client had advanced so far. He had talents, but he had little grace; his inner loathing for himself because of his job, through his father’s admonition, was showing through.
I suggested, firmly, paternally: “Now, listen up: I personally find that statement of yours –which I’ve heard often in our discussion, ‘all that garbage’, objectionable, and I’ll bet many others working with you do too. What if you changed that? Instead of ‘all that garbage’, what about saying, ‘and all those things that make our world go ‘round’ or ‘the business moves that create success’ or those difficult tasks that pay off more often than not’? What would that change do for you?”
Well, I made it stick, and my client became so confident of the ‘new way’ of expressing himself –which, symbolically, was getting rid of the albatross-father’s projection—that he left his excellent job and got an even higher-paying one with even greater sales-management outreach!
Sharpen your questions. What you hear will bring your client’s astrology sharply to life.
Next Update: August 31, 2002