by Jenny Clarke
Do you come across “yes-butters” – people who greet a happy remark like “What a lovely day!” with the response “Yes – but the forecast is bad”, or who reply “yes – but it didn’t make any difference” when reminded about their contribution to a successful project. We all meet people like this from time to time. Sometimes, it’s hard to persevere when it seems that every constructive comment you make is batted straight back like this.
In a coaching situation, the most likely reason for this kind of response is that the “project” you’re working on hasn’t yet got a sound platform and it may be worth revisiting this. Is your coachee a customer for change – ie does he/she want something different and is he/she willing to do something about it? Are you sufficiently clear about what is wanted – and what the benefits of getting it might be – to the coachee and other people involved? Is there enough enthusiasm for the “project” to overcome the “yes-but” doubts?
Of course, some “yes-butters” seem to be contrarians for the fun of it. One of our veteran SF colleagues, Brian Cade, has a great way of dealing with people like this which he calls “colonising the negative”. So you start with “The forecast is bad” which means that they have to say “Yes -but it’s lovely now!” Or your comment “I’m not sure that that had much of an effect” provokes the response “Oh I think xx took notice and will pick up some of the ideas.”
Others respond badly to compliments and just haven’t learned how to accept them graciously (a typically British characteristic perhaps). Here, we have to curb our own enthusiasm and be sparing, specific and detailed in giving praise – but don’t give up altogether! People can get used to receiving well-targeted praise.
Jenny Clarke is a coach, facilitator, consultant and a co-director of SFWork She has wide functional experience in industry, including operational research, strategic and business planning, dealing with Government and regulatory issues, public inquiry management and administration. For more on Jenny and how SFWork can help you build progress rapidly in tough situations, visit our website.
Orienting Solutions 2013 19-20 September 2013, University of Herfordshire
Solution-focused, enactive and narrative research conference, organised by SFCT in association with the University of Hertfordshire
72 international researchers, academics and practitioners from the growing fields of solution-focused (SF) and narrative practice met at the University of Hertfordshire last week for a world first. Even though solution-focused practice has been around in the worlds of therapy, nursing, social work and organisational change for two decades, this was the very first academic research conference on this topic. Even more interestingly, the schools of philosophy and nursing/social work combined with SFCT (http://www.asfct.org, the SF consulting/training professional body) to host the event and provide input. The University of Hertfordshire has a world leading reputation from both sides – the philosophy department hosts the British Wittgenstein Society and is a leader in the latest work into the enactive paradigm, while the nursing school was the first British university to run an SF module in 1995.
With participants from the USA, Canada, Australia Japan, South Africa, Argentina and all over Europe as well as the UK, some had travelled thousands of miles to join in. From closer to home, we also welcomed members of both the UK Association for SF Practice (http://www.ukasfp.co.uk) and the European Brief Therapy Association (http://www.ebta.eu). Michael Durrant, editor of the new Journal of Solution Focused Brief Therapy, was a special guest. The event was opened by SFCT President Kirsten Dierolf (Germany) and Jackie Kelly, Head of School, Nursing and Social Work. Mark McKergow (UH visiting research fellow in Philosophy, left) set the scene for UH’s Prof Dan Hutto (below, being observed by Alan Turing) connected the practices with the latest work in enactive cognition and theory of mind. The programme was a rich mixture. Communications legend Prof Janet Bavelas (University of Victoria, Canada, right) showed the latest work on microanalysis of therapeutic conversations, while Alasdair Macdonald’s compilation of the scale of research evidence as well as the increasing rate of publications in this field (he estimated some 1600 papers this year, many not in English) showed a clear need for a hub to collect and distribute this research.
Participants came from a variety of backgrounds – child protection, psychology, medicine, management, leadership, social work, even sports psychology and adventure play had a look in! Louise Doel, lecturer at the school of nursing and social work, joined with Marva Furlongue-Laver and Evelyn Millward to share the journey of social workers learning this approach. The combination of front-line practice with cutting edge theory was welcomed by all, and many new connections and possibilities were appearing by the end of the event. There were many comments afterwards about how useful it had all been, and discussions are underway about how UH can take a leading role. Next time, we’ll make sure to plan for a bigger crowd in a much bigger room.
A slideshow of photos from the event can be seen at http://www.briefmindfulness.com/sfct-research-conference/.
The full list of papers and posters can be seen below.
Dan Hutto University of Hertfordshire Enactive and Narrative Practices: Why and How They Matter to Clinical Practice
Mark McKergow University of Hertfordshire (UK)/sfwork Solution-focused, enactive and narrative – the action is in the interaction
Janet Bavelas University of Victoria (Canada) SFBT and Microanalysis: Looking Closely at HOW Therapy Works
Alasdair Macdonald Dorset Healthcare (UK) Solution focused therapy: the research and the literature. Where do we go from here?
Steve Flatt Psychological Therapies Unit (UK) Psychological therapy: The problem – IAPT and the medical model. The solution – non pathologising public health approaches.
Chris Iveson BRIEF (UK) Micro-Description, Mega Impact: outcome-informed evolution.
Gale Miller Marquette University (USA) Kenneth Burke as a Window on Solution-Focused Thought and Practice
Ian Smith Lancaster University (UK) The Psychology of Solution Focused Practice
David Weber University of North Carolina Wilmington (USA) Taking Communication Seriously: Uniting SF and CMM (Coordinated Management of Meaning)
Steve Smith Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen (UK) Solution Focused Interactions as a Hermeneutic Endeavour.
Dominic Bray Southport & Ormskirk NHS Trust (UK) ‘Does Pain have to be Pain-ful?’ : are problem-based measures unsound, and is there a solution-focused alternative?
Kirsten Dierolf Solutions Academy (Germany) Organisational Psychology Revisited with a Wittgensteinian Perspective
Zuzanna Rucinska and Ellen Reijmers University of Hertfordshire (UK) , Interactie Academie (Belgium) Between Philosophy and Therapy: The Mutual Affect of Systemic/Dialogical Therapy and Embodied Enactive Cognition
Jen Unwin Southport & Ormskirk NHS Trust (UK) SF: The Hope Therapy
Rayya Ghul Canterbury Christ Church University (UK) Quanta and qualia – what are we researching and why?
Damian Griffiths With Box Limited (UK) ‘Signs of Safety – What are the signs that it works?’
Joel Parthemore Centre for Cognitive Science, Lund University (Sweden) Enactive Philosophy in Action: Re-conceptualizing Mind and Body in Mental Health Practice
Louise Doel, Marva Furlongue-Laver and Evelyn Millyard University of Hertfordshire/Essex County Council: Theory and Practice: bringing in the voice of the practitioner
Vicky Bliss SF and formulation
Stephan Natynczuk My Big Adventure CIC Solution focused practice as a useful addition to the concept of Adventure Therapy.
Dominik Godat Godat Coaching (Switzerland) Solution Focused Leadership – From working practice towards a descriptive model
Michael Hjerth Solutionwork (Sweden) Solution-focus, ADHD and executive function – a translational view
Hellmuth Weich De Montfort University Using antenarratives to evidence and understand changes in family narratives.
Sharon Dyke Milestones Trust Solutions not problems: improving outcomes in RECOVERY using a Solution-Focused Brief Support approach
Antonio Medina and Mark Beyebach La Laguna University (Spain) THE IMPACT OF SOLUTION-FOCUSED APPROACH ON THE BELIEFS, PRACTICES AND BURNOUT OF CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS FROM TENERIFE ISLAND
Jenny Clarke sfwork SF – A Copernican Revolution
Klaus Schenck “ ’I am an other’ – Metaphor in SF: on the verge of identity and difference“
Janet Bavelas University of Victoria (Canada) What is “Microanalysis of Face-to-face Dialogue?”