The rain brought out the beauty of the stone.
Effective Communication and Ethical Influence
markandreas in: NLP Trainings
We’re pleased to include this guest post written by our son, Mark Andreas.
It first appeared on Mark’s Blog “Tools & Tales of Change.”
Over the years, many people have asked me,
“What was it like growing up with your parents using NLP on you all the time?”
To which I like to respond, smiling,
“How would you feel if your parents NLpeed on you your entire childhood?”
Then I point out that there is a big difference between using NLP on someone
and using NLP with someone.
Just think about the presuppositions (assumptions) of each statement:
“I use NLP on someone” presupposes that I am the actor using NLP on a passive person
who is the object of my activity. Whether used for good or bad, it is manipulative.
There is separateness and disconnection from the other person,
with no attention given to how the other person might experience the interaction.
The assumption is either that they are powerless to help themselves,
that I know what they want better than they do,
or that I’m going to manipulate them into doing something that goes against what they want,
or some combination of these. From a metaphorical standpoint,
I have to be above someone to use something on them. So I’ll be looking down on them,
and they will likely feel the burden/impact of the tool I’m pushing on them from on high.
The image that comes to my mind is a stone-worker chiseling away at a figurine
until it looks the way he wants it.
“I use NLP with someone” presupposes that we are both benefitting from NLP together.
It can only be used for good; it is cooperative. There is togetherness and connection with the other person, with equal attention given to how I and the other person each experience the interaction.
The assumption is that both of us have the ability to help ourselves, that I’m using my tools
to support us both discovering what we each want, and in service of us both getting more
out of the relationship than either of us would have discovered alone.
From a metaphorical standpoint, I have to be on the same level as someone
to use something with them. It will be much more likely that we see eye to eye,
and there is room for the give and take of feedback. The image that comes to my mind
is of a dance between two people, or two people walking side-by-side.
So after my humorous response to people about being NLpeed on as a kid,
I tell them that my experience growing up was that my parents used NLP with me and my brothers. They used NLP communication tools to support us in gaining clarity and connection
with what we wanted, and to support them in communicating clearly with us about their needs
and boundaries. The goal was always about finding solutions that worked well for everyone
in the family.
As young kids my parents often asked us, “Mark, Loren, Darian, would you like to go to bed now,
or in five minutes?” Of course we responded with “five minutes, five minutes!”
But our parents weren’t using this clever presuppositional form to manipulate us into going to bed against our will. On the contrary, they were using NLP with us.
They were acknowledging and honoring our ability to act and choose to a degree
that was appropriate to our age. They were also front-loading the idea that it was almost time
to sleep, so we could start preparing ourselves internally for that stage of the day—
an essential need of every human being, both parents and kids.
Could we have said “no” to the five minutes question? Of course.
But why say no to something that is done with us, and for us?
So if you find that an NLP tool isn’t working, one thing to check is,
“Have I been trying to use NLP on someone? Or am I using these tools with someone?”
1. First, change your language. Instead of “I want to use NLP on them,” or “I’m going to talk to them,” or “I was really laughing at them,” see what happens when you change to using with:
“I want to use NLP with them,” “I’m going to talk with them,” “I could try out laughing with them,” etc.
2. Notice how your own internal experience changes when you change to using with.
For me with is an experience of being on the same level as the other person, with eye contact,
give and take, stepping into the others’ shoes, working together side-by-side,
going in the same direction, and cooperation.
3. The next time you want to be more with someone, make the specific internal changes
you noticed above. So for me, I picture me and the other person both at the same level
and making eye contact, (even if we’re different actual heights, or about to have a conversation
over the phone where I can’t actually see the other person).
I picture us both together, with space between us for give and take, like a flow of energy
that for me represents feedback flowing back and forth between us.
I’m also aware that I can step into the other person’s perspective at any time,
seeing from their point of view. Just as you make these internal changes,
you can also make specific external changes that match the with.
If I’m talking to a child, I like to crouch down so I’m literally at eye level with them.
If I’m sitting with someone, I like to position my chair by their side,
so I can literally be on their side (rather than in a face off).
While making these internal and external changes, my main focus is
to notice what commonalities we both have, so that we can work together on those going forward.
Learn more about using NLP with yourself
Wise words. When I first encountered NLP a good friend told me I’d find it useful and interesting,
and I should refrain from using it ‘on people’.
I asked him who I should use it on then – he said myself. He was right :-)
I wish I’d known the ‘bed now or in 5 minutes’ when my kids were that age :-)
I did have something similar for those ‘tantrum’ moments. It went something like
“I know right now you are upset/angry and need to yell/cry/scream,
and I’d like to help but I can’t while you’re so upset,
so if you tell me how long you need to stay upset for (point to watch),
I’ll come back when you’re done and we can talk”.
The first time I used it the tantrum stopped with a big intake of breath in about 2 seconds.
After that it took longer, but after a few times it seemed irrelevant to use anyway.
Looking back I guess it helped them realise they had a choice
and me to realise I could leave them to choose, so we both benefited
Thanks for sharing, Alan.
It reminds me of a similar thing I would often do on the wilderness trips I lead for “troubled” teens.
When kids were screaming at me about how I was being unfair, etc.,
I would say something like: “I can see you’re really angry/upset right now, and that’s fine.
When you’re ready to be in contact (our word for connecting with another person,
being able to speak as well as listen) I’m happy to talk with you about how I can best support you,
and how you can get your needs met. Until then I’m going to help John set up his tent.
Come to me whenever you’re ready to be in contact.
And I’ll also make a point to check in with you later tonight.”
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