Rosa Zubizarreta – On Holding Space and Listening

I have been exploring the juxtaposition of both expecting that a person be honest and sincere while being forgiving if I realize they are not.  

Just by being with another as they are, without expecting them to be any different, I find the experience of life opens up.  I am able to appreciate a person’s uniqueness or have more compassion for their struggle.  This is, of course, a practice – one that I have to practice a lot.  In my head I can think of so many reasons to be critical.  But in my heart, I can hold space for a person to be just the way they are in this moment.

I was reminded of this quality in my recent conversation with Rosa Zubizaretta.  Rosa shares a Buddhist inspired practice of not just listening, but really holding space for the true nature of another – of approaching each person as though they are inherently brilliant, caring, and capable. And recognizing anything else as just distress.

Rosa is the author of “From Conflict to Creative Collaboration: A User’s Guide to Dynamic Facilitation,” and teaches Dynamic Facilitation internationally.  She works with engaged empathy to evoke collaborative sense-making, group flow, and energetic alignment within highly diverse groups.

You could say she’s an expert in listening.  The first time I met Rosa was a joyful download of her immense academic understanding of all things inter-human.  This interview is less academic but equally full of wisdom gleaned from decades of study and practice.

We unpack specific techniques that Rosa uses in her listening workshops, discuss the sometimes sensitive subject of deep listening vs therapy, and explore facilitation skills that anyone can apply to navigate challenging conversations.

Please enjoy.

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