Truly Speaking: continued from home page ...
...... whether sharing a point of view at a meeting, giving a presentation at work, attending an interview, or speaking to our spouse.
Speaking arises in relationship with others and it follows that our relational history and conditioning arise with it. We're often speaking from within a pressure-filled labyrinth, much of which is unconscious. It affects how we relate to the ones we're speaking with, what we say, how much space we give ourselves and, as importantly, how we listen. Many of us cope with our fearful experience by contracting and withdrawing. We may avoid speaking in front of others at all, or get by in a way that leaves our listeners dealing with all our stress and strategies, as well as trying to hear our message. We hide in our lives and relationships. We create our world accordingly, and set ourselves up for more of the same. At the other end of the spectrum, we might manage our fear by pushing our power, using speed and domination, throwing information at our listeners and filling all the spaces with empty, breathless words and sounds to keep control. There are as many strategies as there are dear, ingenious survivors of our early learning experience!
What makes it really easy and simple to heal is that, whilst all of this conditioning comes up in relation to speaking with others, so does our essential nature ... that which is unconditioned, free and natural. There's a mix in every moment, right here, right now. Transformation and healing depend on what we relate to in the whole field, which includes both our experience and the more subtle, simple presence of being.
It's ultimately an 'inside job', but environment plays a valuable role. In a nurturing, supportive environment we can take baby-steps (sometimes giant leaps!) out of our limited and unsatisfying ways, into the limitless, ease-filled space of deeply listening, meeting and speaking.
What happens in a Circle?
The form is powerful, deceptively simple, and follows the way developed by Lee Glickstein and Speaking Circles International®.
It's usually a small group of between 4 - 8 participants, whose role is to create a space of mutual acceptance and support, so that everyone may step into - and come from - much more of who and what they are. The emphasis is on being in the two-way flow of relational presence between listeners and person in front. Words may arise, but attention is not on what is spoken.
As the Facilitator, I introduce the form, give guidelines and model relational presence. I take you step by step into simple, short exercises to practise it. We work individually, in dyads, and then in the larger group. Everyone gets to be in front of the group first of all for three minutes, just to be at the centre of attention, and to be with one listener at a time.
There follows a longer turn with exactly the same invitation: to be with one person at a time. Words may come, experience may be shared, but basic relational presence still comes first. After this round there is essence appreciation, led by the Facilitator. This consists of one or two words which describe an 'essential' quality you've seen and enjoyed during their turn.
The unseen but vital ingredient in a circle is listening. Opening to listen deeply is opening to love itself, and all its qualities. As a member of the audience we listen, but for the one up front listening is key too. It brings us into a 'field of belonging' with our audience, opening to their support. Listening helps us find, within, what comes to be spoken.
Circles may be recorded on camera, and your personal turns uploaded to you to watch privately. This is your opportunity to be with yourself, with the appreciation and space that you held for others.
Even one circle can change significantly our way of relating to others, and our experience of speaking with others. Attending more brings a chance to deepen and transform further, allowing communion with others to be our ground, and speaking to become the true conduit of our essence that it is meant to be.
'Relational presence' are two words that point to a quality of stillness and space to which we may consciously give ourselves; our open, natural, inner ground. It's ground we occupied easily as young children, and gave up in favour of more comfortably fitting into our world. Luckily for us true nature is still there to come from, but we have to go to it by letting go of our unnatural, habitual ways. There is a choice. It's a space of simply being, where we can come to rest within ourselves and be truly together with others.
Relational presence is the jewel at the centre of a Truly Speaking session. It's the means of transforming how we are in front of others from tension and defensive patterns to enjoyment, ease and intimacy. This can take time and it can happen quickly, but whichever is the case participants soon know how to make the shift and support their own transformation.
Speaking Circles® were designed by Lee Glickstein in the 1980s. They were his response to unremitting stage-fright, and finding that no techniques or exacting disciplines made any difference. Changing his approach led him to a deep understanding of the principles of natural communication through relational presence. You can find more information here: