Sounding boards – what use are they? 

Libra 2007

One answer could be ‘very little’, since when referring to the non-musical definition, they are usually people who tell you what you’ve just told them. More or less anyway. Libra people make good sounding boards. They care about what you or your clients mean. They can reflect on everyone’s opinions and mirror them back. They are great in Customer Relations, or PR functions as they can step into potential clients’ shoes. However they are more of a problem for themselves – more on this later.

For this Libra edition I started thinking about Libra words: reflection, mirror, bounce back, partner and the term ‘sounding board’. Where did it come from? I attempted to ask Google, my sounding board.  Google bounced back the usual answers about groups or people, but more usefully, also the definition of the musical sounding board (Libra has a lot to do with harmony and therefore music).

sounding board

a. A  thin board forming the upper portion of the resonant chamber in an instrument, such as a violin or piano, and serving to increase resonance. b. A structure placed behind or over a podium or platform to reflect music or a speaker’s voice to an audience.”

The use of the words ‘resonance’ and ‘reflect’,  I found interesting, as they indeed resonate with my Libra words. I offer a ‘sounding board’ as a service. So that’s what I should be doing with my clients! Standing behind them and helping them get their voices heard. I like the image. Individuals often use therapy for just that – to have an independent partner who acts as a sounding board to help them to be heard. Therapists reflect back clients ideas without judgement. They mirror behaviour to make it clear what is happening. They resonate with the energy of the client in some cases, so that they can understand what the client is feeling.

Therapy – the talking cure. A term used by Freud taken from his famous patient Anna O. who used it to refer to the fact that she had been cured of hysteria by talking about repressed memories. By talking about our problems and ideas to someone who is not involved in the issue, we often find solutions ourselves.  We hear ourselves. Therapy and astrology readings often just give confirmation of what we already know but are not yet quite clear about. Clients find this very helpful.

So sounding boards are very useful things and people. Top managers often have the ‘lonely at the top’ syndrome. It can be dangerous bouncing ideas around in-company. No-one inside a company is independent of the issue. However with someone who can remain independent, using someone as a sounding board can be a very useful way or hearing ourselves and stimulating our own answers to a knotty problem.

Fighting amongst yourself?  Tips on how to stop

inner conflict

So back to our Libras, who sometimes have problems due to their ability to see all sides of every issue. They can have difficulty in making decisions because of this. They fight internally with different parts of themselves. We all do this in fact, however Libras seem to suffer the most from this phenomenon.

Therapists often give rules for solving conflicts between two parties which involve very Libra-like steps.
Talk about the conflict by:
1. Finding a place to talk where you won’t be interrupted and which is neutral ground.
2. Have turns of one minute (maximum), where you each define your view on an issue.
3. Repeat the view back to the other person.

Unacceptable words: always, never and you. So you need to put the problem in terms of ‘I’ and in terms of how it makes you feel, so you own and take responsibility for your part in the problem. This is more difficult than it sounds. What usually happens in an environment where both parties actually want to solve the conflict, is that a lot of clarifying is needed, as often there are misunderstandings. Even if the problem is not solved, both parties feel heard by having their views reflected (here we are again) back to them. Try it! It’s often very helpful.

So how can we use these techniques internally and also within a company?
One of the ways therapists look at these dilemmas is to isolate different parts of our personality. There might be a ‘pleaser’ in you , a rebel, a practical part or a part that is really afraid. There may also be parts you don’t want to acknowledge, such as a jealous, vengeful part. When inner conflicts arise, this model of parts or sub-personalities can be used to clarify what the issues are and who (which part) wants what. Once you have identified some of the different parts, it is often clear who is fighting with whom. A classic example might be a part that is afraid to say no to the boss and works too long, opposed to a very angry part. The technique above can be used to at least get the parts talking. This is a type of voice dialogue which can be very revealing. A good article on inner conflict can be found in the website section below. Often when the parts understand each other, a compromise can be reached. The goal is another Libra word – balance. Every part must have its turn and needs to be valued and understood. This is a very old and common technique in therapy but it still can work wonders. The horoscope is a very good tool for helping to define the many parts.

So what about conflicting parts in companies?
This model, together with a company horoscope, can be used to define conflicting parts of organisations. How often do you hear about the personnel department having different views  from management, or the sales team being at loggerheads with purchasing. By analysing what each part wants and letting them have their minute, as in the technique above, many compromises can be reached provided that the basic atmosphere is one of wanting to solve a problem. I can’t use a company example here as these issues are mainly internal problems. However countries can also be looked at using this model. So let’s take the chart of the United States to see what can be gleaned about the possible conflicts between the different parts inside the US.
To give an example I will use three parts (shown by planets) in the US chart.

George Bush as a woman

from Othersiderainbow politicians in drag

Mother knows best
For an individual, the Sun represents what our heart wants. For a company it is what the management want and for a country, it represents what the people in authority want. This is Cancer (4th July) for the US, so if the chart was for a person this might be someone who is patriotic, values the family and belonging, and who can be motherly. Bush is always pushing the old family values and is protective of the country’s interests (read inward focussed!). Cancer can be very strongly over-mothering. Mother knows best in the old tradition. As with all signs, there are positives and negatives here.

Rebels with a cause

These Cancerian qualities compete very strongly with an Aquarian Moon. For an individual this is a need to be free and independent, to be oriented towards the future, to be more mental than emotional. In a company chart the Moon represents the staff. It is obvious how this could cause problems between staff and management. A technology or future-based, independent staff versus traditional management. For a country the Moon represents the people, the general public. It is clear that this can be a problem for the US. It is not for nothing that the US has a charter of independence which in reality is not always honoured by those in power. There is a way that this can work together but discussion and valuing of all the parts is vital.

mission impossible

Mission Impossible?
Interestingly, the mission of the US is shown by Libra, the sign of the month. This is shown by the tenth house in a chart. The US has Saturn placed there in the sign of Libra. They really do see their mission as being an authority on world peace. So how does this fit with staying Cancerian and protecting the home front? What the US needs, as do companies and individuals, is to honour all the parts, so that they all get a turn. The image of a caring mother who lets her child be independent, authentic and original and works towards being a distinguished diplomat, might be symbolic of what the US could become. But that would require less fear and more trust. The parts that are fearful and distrusting would need to get some air time for this to happen. Roll on therapy for countries!  I do think therapy for companies is a real possibility though using this technique.

Faye Blake-Cossar

Interesting website of the month

This website gives tips on how to resolve inner conflicts. It is very clearly written with good tips.

Quote of the month

Photo of Susan by David Shankbone – wikimedia



“Do you really have to be the ice queen intellectual or the slut whore? Isn’t there some way to be both?”
Susan Sarandon – herself a Libra.




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