Listening with strength ears

Reading the book that was whispering my name already for some time: ‘An American Healer‘, about homo empiricus / pioneer / story-teller Milton Erickson.

Many insights and stories that caught my attention and will further impact my own work with clients.

Betty Alice, one of Erickson’s daughters, talks about her own 3 kids helping Milton in the garden.

‘I listened very carefully to the conversations the children and their grandfather had. On the way home, I would ask all three: ‘Did grandpa praise you?’ They would all say he had and then tell me exactly what their grandfather had said to them.

‘Grandpa said I did a good job!’ and ‘He told me I weeded better than anybody.’
‘Grandpa said I grew wonderful carrots’.

I would listen to my children telling me things that dad had never said. It was amazing how convinced they were that he had praised them.

I spent a lot of time that summer watching and trying to understand what was occurring.

What he did was to listen to them with intense interest. He would ask questions and then really focus on them and hear their answer. What they heard was praise for them – and it was, but it was from them to them. Dad would listen and they would feel him listening with such intensity that they would feel it a praise for them, as it really was.

They would ‘remember’ words that had never been uttered, and then make those words that would fit best within them. Dad connected with them at the very deepest part of their being.’