I'd applied for a spot in an eight-month coaching certification program at The Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. I had submitted my application and paid the course fee — but I had not yet been admitted to the class. (Oddly, though, the course fee had been paid.)
My formal admission to the class was riding on a one-hour Skype interview with Juliann Spoth, the program's chairperson.
I passed the audition.
I was glad to know I was truly headed for Cleveland and this training. I want more formal training to amplify the on-the-job training I receive from my Vistage Columbus members.
The Gestalt coaching certification course starts in November.
But this isn't about that.
This is about what Juliann Spoth taught me.
On the call, Juliann asked what I hoped to learn during the program. There are a few things:
- How to listen. More deeply, more perceptively, so I can really understand what's being said, and — beyond the verbal — what's being communicated between the lines.
- How to look. Eye contact has always been hard for me. When I look into your eyes, I am distracted from the text of our conversation. I see you, but I stop hearing you. It's like the fellow who can't chew gum and walk at the same time. I can't look and listen at the same time. I want to learn how to balance the visual with the aural.
- How to lever silence. After a lifetime of talking and persuading, I am learning that more happens when I listen. And that requires that I tolerate, even manage, silence.
On the third point, Dr. Spoth started teaching me right then and there on the call.
"I write 'WAIT' on the top of the page I'm using in my notebook," said Juliann. "It stands for 'Why Am I Talking?' That question helps me stay quiet and listen more."
WAIT = Why Am I Talking?
So, why am I talking?
Often, I'm talking because I want to prove my competence. By talking.
But, more and more, competence is listening.
So why am I talking? For whom am I talking? Is my talking serving the person who is working through a challenge or issue?
Or is my talking distracting us both from the next insight? Am I just showing off? By talking?
Want to know what I'm thinking now?
WAIT. Why am I typing?