Chronicles of a Counselor

Chuck Chatham once said: “You have two ears and one mouth – that should tell you something.”

Here are a couple of counseling stories to illustrate the point.

Flying High

When I first started to counsel, I quickly learned the tape recorder is an immense help. Clients knew I had a record of what was said, and I think it makes them ponder their answers.

My first one hour session with a 747 airline Captain produced this interchange. I asked the usual opening questions. He was very open and responsive. At the end of the session, he said to me “I have never learned so much in an hour before.” I was astounded. After all, I didn’t say much, and certainly nothing that he could construe as teaching him anything. When he left, I played the tape back. A watch with a second hand was used to time when I talked, when he talked, or when there was silence. I spoke for six minutes; the rest of the hour was his!! What he meant wasn’t that I said anything profound, but that he listened to his answers and found out what he thought about his properties and investment posture. He became a long time client. I became a listener.


One morning my receptionist came into my office announcing that two IRS agents were waiting to see me. I remember that Chatham mentioned a similar situation and I proceeded to act as he did.

I asked that they be shown in, and when we shook hands and introductions were over, I reached over and turned on the tape recorder. As I recall the banter went like this.

“You can’t do that” one said.
“Sure I can, in this office we record every conversation” I said.
“Turn that off, we don’t have permission for a tape to be used” he said.
“This is my office, you don’t need permission” I said.
“You can’t record us without permission” he replied.
“Well, get permission” I replied.
“It’s against the law to record this” he said.
“What law?” I replied.
He answer was: “It’s against the Freedom of Information Act.”

I laughed heartily unable to believe he cited that act to withhold freedom of information. I told him to call and get permission for me to record or I wouldn’t speak to them. He went to an empty office and returned saying that the supervisor wasn’t available. I turned off the recorder and asked the nature of their visit. The reply was that they were looking for those who barter. “Barter,” I said, “Never have, never will.” “We do 1031 Exchanges for real property.”

They spoke… I listened…They left.

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