I often fancy myself as a healthy communicator of my feelings. I can hug people tightly. I can say, I love you, with no trouble. I’ve always been able to stand up for myself when even a tad pushed around. By now, I figure I know who I am and what I want, and I am authentically me on all levels. I write for goodness sakes – that alone means I can communicate, right?
Well, recently I found out the answer is more like, Maybe.
I met with a man named Eric Atwood on Friday to discuss his upcoming workshop on June 29 at P&D. And no matter how well I think I am at being my true Self, I learned that there is a lot I could learn from Eric.
He uses a specific technique called the Speaking Circle®, where a group comes together for the purpose of learning to be more authentic. It’s a method to learn about who we are and to be able to share that person in every day life.
I didn’t know what to expect when I met Eric. When I made the appointment with him, I told him I would like to experience a couple of the exercises he does in the workshop so I could write about it.
The main exercises he and I did were me learning the difference in what I am feeling and what I am thinking and how I convey that to the world. I also learned that when someone directly asks me what I feel, I get uncomfortable with a capital U. I was excited to learn that fact about myself. I thought I went around telling people all the time what I feel, but after my short time with Eric, I now know that I really talk from my head more than I realize.
The workshop is all day long, but he and I met for only a bit more than an hour, so the exercises I talk about here are not the complete practice, but I want to share my experience.
First we talked about me. He asked me a simple question, “Who is Jennifer?” Easy enough, I gave a little synopsis of me.
Now, Eric asks me, what is my passion? What is something that excites me? I say, Words. I think words are beautiful and when they are strung together to create art, there is nothing in life more exciting. I can’t wait to be an author with multiple books that have my name on them.
I was so full of feeling with the second one that I, literally, had tears in my eyes. I was feeling something and I knew that Eric felt that too. This was a simple exercise to demonstrate the difference in telling someone something from the head versus the heart.
Talking about my emotions is good, but if someone is going to attend a workshop to be a better speaker, there better be some good listeners in the house!
This is another portion of the Speaking Circle® workshop – learning to listen. Eric used a nice reference to listening, “Available eyes.”
There are three guidelines for the course:
(1) For the listeners – be available. Give the speaker positive regard.
(2) For the speakers – be in “relational presence,” a term referring to eye contact.
(3) Privacy and Confidentiality – nothing shared outside the Circle may leave the Circle. Everyone is safe.
I asked Eric what someone taking this workshop would leave with and he mentioned the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing; a book I have read. It’s about a hospice nurse who travels and spends time living with people on their death beds, who then tell her about what they wish they had done, but it was too late. Eric asked me, Do you remember the regrets of those patients in the book?
I answered, “The lady living for others, how she wished she would have had the courage to pursue her own likes and dislikes, rather than going with the flow with what others wanted her to be.” There was another patient who said he wished he had the courage to express his feelings.
Courage was a big theme of this book and a theme in Eric’s workshop. Eric says, his workshop is geared to allow people to be courageous in their life; to be more natural with other people and to have an authentic voice when expressing it.
Before Eric and I parted ways, he had one more exercise for me. It was to stare into one another’s eyes for 30 seconds without looking away. I had never met Eric before this day, but here I was staring into his eyes for 30 seconds. Should be easy, right? Not that easy for me though.
No kidding, I really have a quite a way to go. If the stars line up and I can escape my kids and hubby for a day, I hope to meet you in Eric Atwood’s workshop, Authentic Voice: Communication That Creates Connection. I believe it will be time well spent. It’s on June 29, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm.
To sign up, Pre-registration required, as space is limited. To register, contact Eric Atwood at 770.365.7447 or email Eric@TheSpeakersStudio.com.
Cost is $175, or early sign up $150.
For more information, you ca go to the P&D calendar.