The Pleasure of Being Heard


Have you ever had someone listen to you with undivided attention?  If you’ve had that experience, you know how good it felt to tell your story.

 I had just that experience when I met with Linda Adams, the President and CEO of Gordon Training International.

I was 3000 miles away from the Gordon Training International headquarters when I first came in touch with Dr. Thomas Gordon’s communication model. After moving to La Jolla, CA and realizing that I’m only 20 minutes away, I just HAD to ask for Linda’s time to tell her how the Gordon communication model had changed my life – as it has done and will do for the thousands more who learn the communication skills embodied in the model.

I once asked ten colleagues in the field of interpersonal communication if they knew Thomas Gordon’s work.  Only two had.  I asked those same folks if they knew of Dr. Carl Rogers work.  They all answered in the affirmative.

I’m sorry that they have missed knowing of Gordon’s work, which is based on Carl Rogers’ client-centered psychotherapy methodology.  I hope, through this blog and my ongoing writing and training, to change that.

As Dr. Roger’s student, Tom Gordon contributed a chapter to a book that Dr. Rogers was writing, entitled Client-Centered Psychotherapy: Its Current Practice, Implications, and Theory. That book helped make Carl the most famous and respected psychologist in the world.  For Tom Gordon, the Gordon Model had its beginning in that chapter.

As Dr. Gordon advanced in his career, teaching and counseling clients, he implemented the Gordon Model.  When he found that the communication skills used by clinical psychologists were so effective in helping his clients to find their own solutions, he concluded that parents should be taught these skills to empower their children to become good problem-solvers.  He got lots of feedback on the amazing effectiveness of his kind of listening which he lated called “Active Listening” from an article written by a former student, Richard Farson.

Based on his work with Carl Rogers, his development of leadership training and his work with parents, in 1962 he outlined the Gordon Model for parents in  a course and book, Parent Effectiveness Training.

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the first offering of that course in Buffalo, New York in 1970.   Helping parents apply democratic management and collaborative problem solving at home was revolutionary.  As Dr. Gordon went on to create Teacher Effectiveness Training  and Leader Effectiveness Training  more and more people have been able to put these concepts to work.

Today, the Gordon Model is being taught in more than 43 countries.

Upon completion of that first P.E.T. course, I was motivated to read everything I could get my hands on in the field of interpersonal communication and ultimately to earn a Ph.D. in communication.  I have always been grateful to have the Gordon Model as the foundation of my learning and continued work.  You’ll see the Gordon Model reflected in Communication Case Studies and in our Building Communication Skills game.

I was so glad I had a chance to tell Linda – and to tell you, through this blog.

If you’ve used the Gordon Model, we’d love to hear about it!  (







ICS WorkplaceCommunication, Carolyn Shadle, PhD, and John Meyer, PhD


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