Creating Your Safe Sounding Board
Most of us are familiar with the term “sounding board.”
“Hey, I just wanna bounce something off you…”
“Can I run something by you?”
We use this term to describe a kind of communication we engage in when we are looking for guidance, feedback, ideas, validation and sometimes, allies.
Most of the time, it goes without saying that we are more inclined to engage in this with people we feel we trust – those relationships that feel safe.
Utilizing Your Safe Sounding Board
Think about the kind of information you might bring to the sounding board scenario. Often it goes something like this:
We’re really pissed off about an interaction we had with someone else and we need to let off steam.
We’re struggling with a decision – perhaps, one we know we need to make but are afraid to make it.
We have a really amazing idea and we’re looking for some support or encouragement.
We did something “wrong” or something we don’t feel good about and we want to find some relief – to know that we are still okay. We’re making a confession.
We are expecting to find resistance and defensiveness in an interaction with someone else, so we are looking for allies in our fight.
Somebody done done us wrong and we are gathering the posse.
We want to do something that we already know might not be a great idea and we are looking for someone to tell us to go ahead!
We have a heartfelt desire for change and we want to conspire with someone else to build up our confidence.
And of course, there can be many more situations that meet the needs for a sounding board.
Stacking the Odds
Now, we all know who to go to when we want certain responses, don’t we? I mean I’m not the only one who knows which friend to talk with when I’m about to make a risky – throw caution to the wind – decision. She’s the one who’s just as game as I am …always!
I know who to go to when I want to bitch and complain about a certain person in my life. She’s the one who’s gonna hop on that bandwagon quicker than I can say, “jump!”
I have those friends I go to when I want to be talked out of something. I’m about to go down the rabbit hole and I need a good sound reminder of what I said I was never going to do again.
I know who to go to when I feel like I want revenge – when I am feeling spiteful. She’s the one who can’t stand to see me hurt and will start gathering the troops for my defence.
I know where to go when I have a really tender, new idea that must be nurtured and sheltered from any harsh elements. She’s the one who can keep secrets and who can envision my success better than I can.
I know who to go to when I am sad. She lets me cry. And laugh.
I know who to call on when I am building a case for something – trying to manipulate a situation – and I need more weight in my corner.
I know where to go when I want to be heard. Honoured. Accepted. And challenged.
What Makes A Sounding Board Safe
And that last one, my friend, is the key to the safe sounding board process. Anyone can be a sounding board. But certain key elements take it from a talk-fest to a potential place of growth and transformation.
Sacred – What is shared is sacred. Always. This doesn’t just mean that it is not ever shared outside of the conversation (unless you are seriously threatening to do something damaging), it also means that it is not thrown back in your face. And it doesn’t matter how many times you may find yourself in the same situation. It. Never. Comes. Up. There is no “I told you so” involved. Ever. Even when you act like an ass.
Real – Anything goes (as long as it is not actual violence in any form). Any emotion. Any thought. Any feeling. Any language. Any expression of anger. Any feeling of being victimized. Any crappy love song. Any pokes of fun at someone else’s expense (as long as they are not there and it isn’t hurtful). Any healthy expression of emotion. And lots of the unhealthy ones too. Your safe sounding board has your back and will help keep you safe. There is no judgement. You can act like an ass and they love you anyway.
Integrity – Your safe sounding board listens AND expresses. You can count on this person to say what they really mean. They do not edit or censor themselves in your presence. Their observations are shared in a way that you can hear it and absorb it fully. No sugar coating – no glossing over – no playing nice to try to manage your reactions. Honest. Clear. Loving. Supportive. Truth. The don’t start acting like an ass just do you don’t feel alone.
Powerful – After all the crying and moaning, bitching and complaining, your safe sounding board knows how to ask the best questions, point out your strongest strengths, and guide you back to a place of clarity and a sense of personal power. Safe sounding boards help you to see what your next best step can be – what are the options? What will lead you back to a place of self-compassion and personal power? Even though you can act like an ass and still be loved, your safe sounding board isn’t going to let you act like an ass forever!
I hope these few guidelines are useful as you consider creating or fortifying your own Safe Sounding Boards and as you evaluate your effectiveness as one for others.
Let’s get started!
Spend some time identifying the members of your safe sounding board – or at least – those you would like to include. Extend the invitation and/or offer your support as a safe sounding board for others. Share your experience here!
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