One of the most important aspects of practicing Solution Focused Brief Therapy really, really well is understanding the power of third party perspectives. I think we often think about Solution Focused as just a conversation between a client and a therapist. But, what’s so wonderful and beautiful about this approach is you get opportunities to bring the client system into the room by asking an incredibly powerful question, which is, “What would so and so notice?
A very powerful question is, “What would your wife notice?” “What would your husband notice?” “What would your co-workers notice?” “What would your employees notice?” “What would people driving down the street notice?”
The reason that’s so powerful is because we don’t live our lives in a bubble. We live our lives through the perspectives of how other people see us. When you can talk through that lens, it enlightens and uplifts you, and helps you do things you otherwise wouldn’t have known you could do. And I’ll give you an example.
If you’ve been following me on social media, you know that I recently have started doing standup comedy. Now, it’s not my profession. I don’t do it all the time, but I’ve opened for major people like Tiffany Haddish, and I’ve performed on my own in L.A. at The Laugh Factory, and at the Comedy Chateau. I’ve actually performed standup comedy. I never thought this was something that I would do, but more to the point of this video, I never thought it was something that I ‘could’ do. But one day I was hanging out with Tiffany, and Tiffany said, “Man, you are hilarious. You should try standup comedy.”
I laughed it off and she said it over and over again for about a year. And I always laughed it off like, “She’s not serious. That’s not true. That’s not real.” And then one day she said, “I want you to come open for me. I’m performing in San Jose, and I would love for you to be my opener.” And I thought, “Why not?” I can’t even tell you why I said, “Why not?”, other than I started wondering what Tiffany sees in me that makes her think I can do that. And to invite me on the road with her. I started thinking like, “What is it about me that she sees that I could do that?”
I realized she’s been doing standup comedy for 20 years and she’s one of the most famous and successful standup comics in the world, and if she sees something, maybe it’s there. So you know what I’m gonna say? “Yes!” Just as a test. And literally, the second time I ever did standup was at a sold out arena opening for Tiffany Haddish, and it went really well, and Tiffany was so proud of me, and it was so exciting, and it was so cool.
Now I share that story with you to say, I wonder what your client’s friends see in them that the client might not see in them. I wonder what your client’s partners see in them that they might not see in themselves. By taking it out of them, and putting it into the lens of someone else. Even a complete and total stranger.
You might say, “How would someone who’s never even met you, as you walk down the street, notice that you’re at your very best?” And clients say things like, “I’d be walking tall, or standing up straighter, smiling.” It takes it out of their world, and puts it in perspective of someone else who often sees something in them that they don’t see in themselves. When they start to describe it, they start to see it in themselves.
Now that I see this comedy thing in myself, I’ve done it many more times after that first trip. But, I never would’ve done it had Tiffany not seen something in me that I didn’t see in myself. So this approach gives you the opportunity to bring the entire system of your client’s life into the session and ask them to see themselves through another lens.
And it’s really, really powerful when you do that.