Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Mornings

First off, thank you for reading this blog. It's made a tremendous difference to me as a writer and if no one were reading it, I would have stopped doing it. But people do read, so I try to post something new Monday through Saturday by 8am, usually earlier.

If you are one of my early morning readers, you'll have noticed that I tend to post late on Thursday mornings. On Thursday mornings, I have coffee with my friend Andrew. We meet at 7am at Metropolis in Rogers Park and then walk over to where he works. It is here that we have a talk. But it's not just any talk. It's called "peer empowerment." PEP, for short.

Now, I know that already sounds weird. Maybe it is. It's certainly not a common practice among we humans. Here's how it goes, one of us talks for thirty minutes while the other one listens. Then we switch. And that's it. We don't try to solve each other's problems or in any way try to dissect what the other person said. We just listen to one another.

There are a few guidelines we try to follow. While listening, we try to avoid being judgmental. If I notice myself having strong opinions about what Andrew's talking about, I try to let go of it and try to stay focused in the moment about what he is saying. While speaking, we try to stay in the moment and try to "dig in" to whatever issue we're exploring for ourselves. We try to avoid speaking about the past or telling stories. Also, while speaking, we try to avoid being entertaining for the other person. We are speaking for ourselves, getting thoughts and feelings expressed so we can better grapple with whatever's going on in our lives. Afterwards, we might exchange a few comments about what we talked about, but generally we don't. Absolutely everything we say to one another is confidential.

I didn't realize this until recently, but Andrew and I have been doing this for five years. Time flies. It's an effective tool for getting a lot of things about career, family and relationships out of my head and into a realm of possibly doing something about them. There's also something really great and hard to describe about speaking and having someone attentively and non-judgmentally listening for thirty minutes.

Give it a try. It doesn't seem to work too well for family members and couples. Usually because the person talking tends to be talking about the person trying to listen without judgment. Virtually impossible for a married couple to do!

So, that's why I'm usually late on Thursdays. Blame Andrew.



THE BS NEWS QUIZ OF THE DAY

Yesterday, I asked...

"Miniclip.com features a shooter game where kids get to use what for targets?"


30% said "Illegal Immigrants"
- That's the republican version of the game.

25% said "House Pets"
- Yes, but they can only shoot the ones that scratch the new furniture. My fiancee would love this game.

15% said "High School Students"
- Yes, and then they move to the next level, which is college students, and then co-workers.

30% got it right with "Presidential Candidates"

According to The Smoking Gun, Presidential Paintball, a popular online games site offers kids the opportunity to assume the identity of a leading presidential contender and then shoot their political opponents in a series of armed confrontations in the White House. While the ammo is paintball, the game on the highly trafficked miniclip.com site allows kids to train a rifle scope on six presidential aspirants and squeeze off a hail of shots (which are accompanied with a rat-a-tat sound). I think a better name might be My Little Assassin.

7 comments:

wafelenbak said...

Thank you for continuing to post interesting reading material on your blog!
I love the PEP idea. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, I think my friends all talk too much (as do I!) for this to work in practice...heh...

Old Ned said...

Your PEP guidelines work pretty good for improv, too.

Joe Janes said...

Glad you mentioned that. I had a similar thought while writing it out. It is good practice for speaking in the present.

Paul said...

Joe, how the hell did you get started on this "pep talk" thing?

Joe Janes said...

There's a guy named Bob Wright in Chicago who teaches a lot of workshops along with his wife Judith. They do a lot of stuff on communication, career, family, all that life stuff.

Paul said...

I remember her. Glad to hear that it's doing you well. The whole thing sort of sounds like the verbal form of "morning pages".

Lori said...

5 years! Holy ... Cow!
I am imagining two people who never actually talk... discuss. You talk, then he talks, then you leave. There must be something illegal going on here.
I can't even listen to the radio without responding. (Just because I think it's fun, not because I have a problem listening or being patient. Okay, so maybe I'm impatient.
Whatever.)
Actually, I did have coffee and listen to my friend talk for about thirty minutes, with little interjection from me, this morning. And I enjoyed it. So, I can do it.
But I like the conversation best.