Stuck in a barrage of content?
This week, in the middle of all that content, listen for the EMOTIONAL HANDLES—any emotional word that is embedded in your client’s story—i.e. frustrated, sad, exhausted, disappointed, dread, hopeless, helpless—that you can use like a handle, a door knob to open up your client’s emotional experience. If you are listening for them, these emotional handles are often peppered into a story, but like pepper flakes, they can float by fast. If you don’t catch them in the moment and at least note them to yourself, they are gone. If you can catch them however, that’s where the spice is.
If you are lucky enough to have a client who gives you several emotional handles, choose the one with the most attachment significance, or (to stay with the pepper metaphor) the spiciest. For instance, disappointed vs. frustrated, sad vs. tired.
Emotional handle noted; now what?
When you hear an emotional handle, you can either interrupt the client right then, by saying “Can you slow down a moment… you just said you were disappointed, that sounds important, can we stay there for a moment? Can you help me understand that disappointment?” Or you can let them finish what they are saying and say, “Let’s go back or can we go back… you said you were disappointed. Can you tell me more about that/tell me what that’s like for you?”
The Emotional Handle could be something non-verbal… i.e. “I hear you saying fine, but I noticed you just sighed and sank into the chair. That seems important. Can you help me understand what’s happening for you?”
Finally, you could also plug into what you are feeling/sensing inside of yourself and use that as an emotional handle… i.e. “I hear you saying fine, but I’m feeling some sadness around what you are saying, is there a part of you that, along with feeling fine, feels some sadness about this?”
Play with it this week and see how it feels for you!