Short, Soft, Slow, Simple

Psychotherapy hinges on the therapist’s ability to listen carefully and respond appropriately.  Since people pay me for my opinions I am happy to share them.  A big part of my job includes knowing when to listen and when to talk.  Sometimes it's helpful for me to give a client a lengthy perspective about what we are discussing.  My goal is for my clients to see themselves or a situation they are dealing with in a new light. 

The famous hockey star Wayne Gretzky once said that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  But that doesn’t mean that you should just whack the puck anywhere.  When I am practicing counseling and psychotherapy here at my Atlanta practice I figure I am “taking a shot” every time I speak.  My goal is to always say just the right comment at just the right moment.

It helps me to remember the value of speaking in a way that is “short, soft, slow and simple”.  I recommend this to people as a good rule to follow when dealing with any emotionally intense situation.  When emotions are high it rarely helps to talk for a long time without giving the other person a chance to do the same. The same goes for being loud, talking fast and trying to convey a lot of complex information all at once.  Much of that will just roll off or ‘flood’ the other person's capacity for taking in what you trying to say.

When a few simple words are spoken softly and slowly there is greater opportunity to effectively process and manage whatever is being discussed.

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Bill Herring is an Atlanta therapist.  His general psychotherapy and counseling practice for adults has been a mainstay of his professional career.  In addition, he has specialized skills and experience helping people deal with problematic sexual behavior.