What I thought was a simple remark of agreement actually encourages people to complete their thoughts sooner than they naturally intended.
Here’s how it typically works—
- I’ll watch my client think for a moment…
- … they’ll find their thoughts…
- … start to formulated their ideas into sentences…
- … pause for half a second to find the next thought…
- … I’ll throw in a quiet ‘Okay’…
- … and then they swallow their thought and sit there quietly.
Agreement vs. Completion
It seems that ‘Okay’ represent a word of completion instead of agreement. It says, subtly, “Thanks for sharing, now lets move on.” Every time I do it now I cringe inside. I wonder how many profound thoughts or observations I’ve missed because I’ve cut my clients thoughts.
The Small Things Are Important
Saying okay isn’t going to thwart the entire counseling process. But, it could be something that, over time, affects how far or deep I am able to progress with a client. Since the majority of communication happens non-verbally (around 93% actually) being aware of the small things seems to make them not so small anymore.
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