As the listener, it was important to strike a balance between listening and reflecting back to the speaker. I found that it was also important to ask probing questions at the right moments — this showed that you were listening and that you were interested in what they were saying. Letting go of preconceived notions about the speaker allowed me to really learn more about them and what motivated them.
As the speaker, it was difficult to fully feel at ease speaking on a personal topic with a relative stranger. A sense of self-consciousness could take over at times, which impacts on the listener can engage with you.
As the listener, it is important to be open and curious and non-judgmental, and be in the moment with the speaker. As the speaker, you have to let go of self-consciousness and be willing to be open and a little vulnerable with your listener.
How was the experience of writing without thinking? Did you discover any new aspects of your experience with this exercise?
Writing without thinking almost required you to shut off your brain and fight against the part of your brain that seeks to make coherent sense of things. It was difficult to shut off that judgmental part of your brain and I don’t know if I succeeded. I found that my writing was mostly descriptive of what was going on in what I was witnessing, and over time it became very repetitive. It was difficult to access a level that wasn’t pure description.
It was odd to witness scenes of everyday reality like waiting for a train and riding a bus from the perspective of somebody else. It was at once familiar and unsettling. I noticed things like the way the light fell and the particular tint of a colour. This exercise forced me to pay greater attention to aspects of my ordinary experience.