The sources of our thinking in developing this course
The course expresses the ideas we've developed together over a period of 40 years. We're especially grateful to our clients because they've taught us how to help them not only learn the skills, but also unlearn the mental and behavioural habits that get in the way. Their enthusiasm to put what they learn to the test and their feedback about what works and what they find difficult helps us continually learn and develop what we teach.
Our understanding of the two crucial skills has been profoundly shaped by Carl Rogers, the pioneering psychologist. His open-minded and generous-hearted way of tuning in to the feelings of others we see as the essence of empathy. And his honest and genuine way of admitting his own feelings we see as the essence of assertiveness. These two ingredients, he believed, can have a beneficial effect on any relationship, and form the core of our training.
Our appreciation of why these skills are so beneficial comes from our interest in psycho-therapy, counselling, and the subject of ‘emotional intelligence’. The heart of the matter, it seems to us, is that when people suppress feelings they bottle them up and store them as tension. Emotional tension that cannot be released is harmful. As well as being physically harmful it locks people into a defensive and irrational state of mind and damages relationships. The great benefit of the simple communication skill-set we teach is that it helps people let off steam, release tension, recover their rational faculties, heal their relationships and be more successful at work. It helps them outside work, too.