The consultation room is small, maybe 9 ft. square, brightly lit and too warm for comfort. At first the client thinks he’s sweating from nervousness but after shifting uncomfortably and tugging at the tight t-shirt sticking to his chest the therapist says
“I’m sorry; it’s very hot in here”
The therapist is softly spoken with a pronounced Spanish accent. He’s maybe in his late twenties/early thirties. Casually dressed in chinos, plaid shirt and untied, soft leather shoes, long, dark brown, very curly hair tied back in a pony-tail.
“Didn’t I buy a latte from this guy earlier at Costa?” thinks the client.
The client is me. I’m tall and slim; slightly unkempt, clothes old but clean. Could do with a shave and a haircut but otherwise not a poster-boy for the environment he currently exists in.
We sit looking at each other across the low coffee table, silently assessing and letting appearances and body language do the talking for now.
Carl knows all about non-verbal communication. How to read other people and, more importantly, how to present himself so he can influence how others perceive and respond to him.
“It all boils down to down to knowledge and knowledge, as they say, is power” – with this thought constantly burning in his sub-conscious his posture changes automatically.
Legs uncrossed, hands resting gently on his thighs. He leans back in the padded chair, tilts his head slightly to one side and allows a gentle but close-lipped smile to play across his mouth. All the while he keeps his gaze constant and eyes fixed on those of the younger man in front of him.
He knows this will portray him as someone who is relaxed and open, inquisitive but not anxious, someone who is happy to sit and wait to see how this scene will unfold. Not giving anything away but also not hiding anything… yet.
I decide to serve first
“I tried to kill myself.”
“I knew everything was going to end and something snapped in my head. I actually heard my mind break. It sounded like a dry branch…”
“I take it you’re from Spain?” I enquire in a friendly tone, voice deep but warm.
“We’re here to talk about you, not me. Where I’m from is of no concern”
My nonchalance is momentarily shaken. That was not an answer I was expecting and surprisingly for me I have no instant response.
Carl’s Conversation Rule Number One – If you have nothing of value to say, say nothing.
Say nothing, say nothing, say nothing – don’t break first…..
Tears start rolling down my cheeks but I don’t look away and I don’t speak.
My throat aches…
I don’t look away.
I try to swallow but my mouth is too dry
Something breaks in my head again… I start to talk