Perspectives 12: Asking “What do you want me to know?”

Perspectives Issue 12: October, 2014

In This Issue

Autumn 2

Image: graur codrin.

  • Asking “What do you want me to know?”
  • Tools for Getting Unstuck on October 29th
  • Upcoming fun: Kendálin in Concert

Know somebody who would benefit from reading this eNewsletter? Please forward it to them! Thanks.

Happy Fall!

I’ve been wondering for several weeks now about a topic for this eNewsletter. I considered several possibilities, but wasn’t making time to sit down and write on any of them. Then, I had this dream…

Asking “What do you want me to know?”

How do we create space for someone to tell us what they are experiencing? And how do we help the people we love create that space for us? I woke up a couple of mornings ago from a dream in which I was standing in a living room with two people, one my relatively new (in the dream) “partner” and one a friend who was visiting, and who had just done something that very much upset my dream-partner’s oldest daughter. She ran out of the room, radiating hurt, confusion and anger. I stood there wanting to follow her, to help her find a way to talk about the experience she was having in a way that would be helpful to her, but also feeling uncertain that I was the “right” person to do that (being the relatively new “step-mom”) and not at all sure I knew what to do to get that result.

I woke up thinking “I’m a coach. I’ve got tools. What would I do in that situation? What would actually help?” I lay there for some minutes, almost dipping into sleep again, and then the question rose up in me: “What do you want us to know about what you experienced? About what you are feeling?”

That question felt different. Useful. It’s not the same as asking “What are you feeling?” or “What do you want?” (both questions I do use in my coaching practice) because it emphasizes the respect being offered; it says, “You are in charge here. I care. I am curious. I want to be helpful. But I respect your boundaries and you get to decide what you think will be helpful for you.”

I got up and scribbled the dream down in my journal, and then went on with my day, with some part of me still wondering, “Am I right? Is this question qualitatively different? Is it as powerful as I think it might be? How can I try it out?”

Sometimes, life brings both insight and opportunity.

About an hour later, I opened up an email that plunged me back emotionally about eight years into a morass of shock, hurt, self-doubt, anxiety, and anger. It was an invitation to connect on LinkedIn from someone I had a bad work experience with, and who I am fairly sure didn’t — and doesn’t — trust me, for reasons that I do not understand.

I was having a very physical reaction — heart beating faster, breath shallow, hands shaking a bit — and questions were whirling through my mind: Why would she contact me? Does she think I didn’t know she was talking with other people in a way that called my integrity into question? Was she unaware of the impact she was having? When my husband came in, said good morning and asked how I was doing, I told him about the email, and tried to express some of what I was feeling but, as is often true for me, felt like I couldn’t express enough of my internal chaos to feel well seen and heard, despite his compassionate interest.

A few minutes later, as I bumped around the kitchen making food, I realized I was feeling resentful that he wasn’t taking more initiative when I was this upset, and, a few seconds after that, realized that he probably hasn’t discovered any strategies that work well for that, given how hard it is for me to communicate in this state.

And then the question from the dream surfaced again.

I snuggled up next to him on the couch, and asked, “Will you do an experiment with me?” He looked at me a little funny, but said “Sure.”

I asked him to ask me “What do you want me to know about what you’re feeling?” He did. And I felt most of the chatter in my head fade away, and with it, my reticence to talk about it.

Suddenly, I didn’t have to be able to express all of the contradictions and confusions racing around inside me; I only had to express what felt important for him to know. And that seemed to cut though all the noise, shining a light on what was most important for ME to know. I said “I am feeling scared and hurt, remembering those times. I am also feeling scared because I think this might be an opportunity to ask some of the questions I haven’t been willing to ask, in service to my own learning and maybe to repairing relationships with that group of people, but I don’t know if I have the skills, or the courage, to try again.”

He responded, “That makes sense, I guess” and pulled me in for a big hug. And I felt heard, and also like I could create some space to think about what I wanted to do without feeling so afraid.

A friend has since pointed out that since I got two of the same invitation within a minute of each other that it was probably auto-generated, which perhaps changes what I will choose to do about it. (Apparently many people say yes to LinkedIn’s invitation to simply send invitations to everyone on their contact list.) But regardless, I am incredibly grateful to whatever impulse provided me the opportunity to try out the question that emerged out of that dream so quickly.

An Invitation

maple on rocks

Image: Tom Curtis,

I am curious about whether this question — “What do you want me to know about what you experienced/what you are feeling?” — will be as powerful for other people. So I want to invite you to try it out, in whatever ways you are moved to, and to notice: Does it help open up space for someone to share with you? Or for you to share with someone else?

And then, if you want to, share with me whatever you want me to know about the experience. You can do that in the comments box at the bottom of this page, or by emailing me directly.

. . . . .

Upcoming Workshop

Tools for Getting Unstuck

Feeling stuck is an experience common to us all. It stifles our creativity, brings up judgment and anxiety, and wastes a lot of time. Come spend three hours in this highly interactive workshop learning some ways to get out of stuck spots, make decisions you’ll feel good about and create the forward motion you need to create the changes you desire. These techniques can be used at a personal level and in organizations (workplaces, boards, families, recreational and creative organizations, etc).

Date and Time: Wednesday, October 29th from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Location: Portland Community College, SE Campus, at SE 82nd and Division, Tabor 138

Cost and Registration: Pre-registration is required. The CRN is 47815. The cost is $29. Register on-line or, if you need help, call 971-722-8888.

. . . . .

What People Say About My Groups and Workshops

“Emotional, rewarding and life changing”

“The group was inspiring, stimulating, helped me shift out of negativity toward optimistic ideas. I love your style – welcoming, supportive.”

“This workshop has changed how I think about my life”

“I now have LOTS of tools to help me make shifts in my life that I’ve wanted.”

. . . . .

Upcoming Fun!  Kendálin in Concert

fiddleIf you are in the Portland area and feel like an afternoon or evening of world-folk inspired live music, my band, Kendálin, is doing two shows this fall, one on October 26th and one on November 1st. You’ll find more details, music samples, videos, etc. on Kendálin’s website.

. . . . .

Individual Facilitation

If you are feeling stuck and want to do more in-depth work to move through your stuck spots and begin creating the life you want to be living, I invite you to do three months of individual facilitation (“coaching”).

We will focus in on what is most alive for you, most stuck, most confusing, and discover ways for you to access your own deep wisdom and to release old patterns that have stopped serving you and are preventing you from making the changes you want to make. Individual facilitation is practical — learning and action are integrated, so you are actually taking the steps you want to be taking while getting more clarity about what makes these changes challenging and how to make it easy. The cost for three months of facilitation is $425.

You will find information about individual facilitation with me on the website.

. . . . .

Call for Questions

Are there things you are struggling with, or coaching-related things you are curious about, that you’d like to see me write about in this eNewsletter? I’d love to know what they are. Please email me at and if I feel like I can address it in the newsletter format, I will.

Have a wonderful fall!


PS: Pass it on

If you know someone who’d benefit from this newsletter, please pass it on to them. Thanks for helping me connect with the people who want what I’ve got to offer.

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