The Talking Stick

It is possible that the fastest way to destroy a relationship is lack of communication.  This creates false or distorted expectations, and the horrible circumstance where two people are arguing about different things, while hallucinating they are talking about the same thing.   Awful.

One of the most useful exercises I’ve learned to help with this is called the “Talking Stick.”  I learned it from Harley Reagan, and as I remember it, the exerciser goes as follows, assuming that two people are seeking to enhance communication. Call them “A” and “B.”  The “talking stick” can be any physical object that can be passed back and forth. Could be a ritual object, or something of personal importance, or something trivial (like a pencil) or even something funny (like a Bobble-head Doll).   

  1. Person A holds the Talking stick. A makes a short statement of their feelings and perceptions, the thing they wish B to understand.
  2. Person B then REPEATS BACK what “A” said, as concisely and accurately as possible.  “B” does not add thoughts, opinions, reactions, rebuttals or anything else.  Just repeat what was said.
  3. Person A then judges: did “B” repeat it back accurately?  If no, A repeats the statement and the process continues until A considers that B has accurately repeated the initial statement.
  4. Then and ONLY then does “A” give “B” the Talking Stick.  B then makes his statement.  This could be a reaction to what “A” said, or a separate statement altogether.
  5. “A” then repeats as accurately as possible what “B” has said.   JUST repeat back. No extra comments, judgements, rebuttals, or anything else.
  6. “B” then evaluates whether “A” has repeated (and therefore understood) the statement.    At that point the “Talking Stick” goes back to “A”.
  7. The process continues as long as necessary.

This is powerful stuff.   Often, a facilitator is necessary at the beginning, as a dominant or “gaslighting” partner will try to twist the exercise, change the statement, change the rules, and control the process.  But once you do NOT need a facilitator?   I’ve found this process to cut through confusion rapidly, revealing that people misinterpreted, misunderstood, misheard or otherwise corrupted the communication process.   IF two people communicate smoothly and cleanly, it is possible to discover rapidly if your values, beliefs, priorities and expectations are compatible.  If not, no harm no foul–let each other go and find people who ARE compatible: its a big world out there.

You deserve to be happy.



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Address: 6012 Tyrone Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91401

If you haven’t registered yet, or wish to bring a friend, go to

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See you Saturday!


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