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NLP Coaching Phil Hayes

NLP coaching
Coaching in Practice series
The aim of this series is to help coaching professionals gain a broader
nderstanding of the challenges and isses they face in coaching! enabling
them to ma"e the leap from being a #good enogh$ coach to an otstanding
one% This series is an essential aid for both the no&ice coach eager to learn
ho' to gro' a coaching practice! and the more e(perienced coach loo"ing for
ne' "no'ledge and strategies% Combining theory 'ith practice! it pro&ides
a comprehensi&e gide to becoming sccessfl in this rapidly e(panding
Pblished and forthcoming titles)
*lc"ert! P%! Psychological +imensions of E(ecti&e Coaching ,-../0
Hay! 1%! Re2ecti&e Practice and 3per&ision for Coaches ,-..40
Rogers! 1%! +e&eloping a Coaching *siness ,-../0
5aghan 3mith! 1%! Therapist into Coach ,-../0
NLP coaching
Phil Hayes
Open 6ni&ersity Press
Open 6ni&ersity Press
7cGra'8Hill Edcation
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Birst pblished -../
Copyright C c -..c/ Phil Hayes
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A cataloge record of this boo" is a&ailable from the *ritish Library
I3*N8>.) .FFG --. GA- ,pb0 .FFG --. /./ ,hb0
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3eries editor$s preface i(
Ac"no'ledgements (
> Nero8Lingistic Programming! coaching and me) it$s getting
harder to see the Ioin >
- A solid fondation) the presppositions of NLP >A
F Creating rapport in coaching F.
E Relationships and the meta8mirror G>
G *ilding conJdence and positi&e resorce states //
/ Helping the client get the most from their life and career @-
4 Resol&ing dilemmas >.E
@ End note >->
*ibliography >--
Inde( >-F
Bor 7andy! 7a( and Blora
3eries editor$s preface
The coaching 'orld is e(panding% A profession that 'as largely n"no'n a
decade ago is no' an attracti&e second career for increasing nmbers of
people loo"ing for ne' 'ays of gro'ing their interest in the de&elopment of
people% 3ome obser&ers estimate that the nmber of ne' coaches Ioining the
mar"et is dobling e&ery year%
=et 'hile there are many boo"s that cater for the beginner coach!
inclding my o'n boo"! also pblished by Open 6ni&ersity Press! Coaching
3"ills) A Handboo"! there are relati&ely fe' that e(plore and deepen more
specialist aspects of the role% That is the prpose of this series% It is called
Coaching in Practice becase the aim is to nite theory and practice in an
accessible 'ay% The boo"s are short! designed to be easily nderstood 'ithot
in any 'ay compromising on the integrity of the ideas they e(plore% All are
'ritten by senior coaches 'ith! in e&ery case! many years of hands8on
This series is for yo if yo are nderta"ing or completing yor coaching
training and are perhaps in the early stages of the npredictability! pleasres
and dilemmas that 'or"ing 'ith actal clients brings% No' that yo ha&e
passed the honeymoon stage! yo may ha&e begn to notice the limitations
of yor approaches and "no'ledge% =o are eager for more information and
gidance% =o probably "no' that it is hard to ma"e the leap bet'een being a
good8enogh coach and an otstanding one% =o are thirsty for more help
and challenge% =o may also be one of the many people still contemplating a
career in coaching% If so! these boo"s 'ill gi&e yo sefl direction on many of
the isses that preoccpy! perple( and delight the 'or"ing coach% That is
'here I hope yo 'ill Jnd the Coaching in Practice series so sefl%
NLP ,Nero8Lingistic Programming0 has been arond for many years
and is a rich sorce of inspiration for any coach% *t ho' e(actly do yo ma"e
best se of its many ideas 'hen yo are a practising coachK Ho' do yo a&oid
the sense that NLP is Ist a set of techni:es loo"ing for a problemK This
intensely practical boo" is 'ritten by one of the most e(perienced and sccessfl
e(ecti&e coaches in the 6L and his boo" 'ill sho' yo ho' to 'ea&e
NLP seamlessly into the &ery best of coaching practice in a 'ay that goes
beyond #techni:e$ and into the heart of the coach?client relationship%
1enny Rogers! 3eries Editor
I heap hge sho'ers of than"s and praise on 1enny Rogers for her 'ise and
patient editing of this boo"% Dor"ing 'ith 1enny has been a 'onderfl
learning e(perience for the past si(teen years! and once again she has sho'n
me ho' something really oght to be done%
I 'old also li"e to than" all my colleages at 7anagement Btres Ltd
for their coaching 'isdom! and for pro&iding the rich bac"drop of comradeship
and professionalism that forms a maIor part of the conte(t for this
7any than"s to 3tephen Daters for doing the pictres%
> Nero8Lingistic Programming!
coaching and me
It$s getting harder to see the Ioin
Aims of the boo"
In the early >AA.s I 'as 'or"ing as a senior consltant in the **C$s management
training department% At the time 1ohn *irt 'as in charge! and 'as
systematically re:iring departments sch as ors to charge for their ser&ices
and act as internal trading nits% *siness 'as good! bt 'e noticed that it 'as
hard to attract the most senior managers to or corses% Ho'e&er! :ite
:ic"ly 'e also noticed that a signiJcant nmber of these senior Jgres! 'hile
n'illing to register on the corses! 'ere :ite eager to arrange one8to8one
sessions to discss their management and leadership isses in a conJdential
en&ironment% The great thing 'as that these senior managers seemed to
beneJt directly from the sessions) there 'ere clear practical spin8oMs as 'ell as
learning% Coaching 'or"ed! and 'as seen to 'or"! 'ith people 'ho pre&iosly
had 'anted little or nothing to do 'ith professional de&elopment% Gradally
or one8to8one sessions e&ol&ed into a more formal and conscios coaching
oMer% The style 'e de&eloped gre' Jrst in that department! then in the conte(t
of the de&eloping methodologies and ethos of 7anagement Btres Ltd!
the company 'here I am no' a director% 7y o'n style of coaching has al'ays
had a strong Nero8Lingistic Programming ,NLP0 accent and this in2ence
has fond its 'ay into the 7anagement Btres approach%
This boo" is probably for yo if % % %
C yo are already coaching! or learning to coach! and 'ant to e(pand
yor repertoire of s"ills and e(pertise by learning something of the
practical applications of NLP in a coaching conte(t
C yo are an NLP practitioner 'ho 'ants to learn more abot coaching in
general and also ho' yor NLP s"ills might apply in a coaching conte(t
C yo are a manager trained in coaching and 'ant to bild yor
coaching repertoire%
The main aim of the boo" is to loo" at the practical applications of NLP in
typical bsiness8based coaching sitations% 7ost of the boo" describes real8life
coaching sitations and ho' NLP has helped to enrich the coaching process%
7ost of the material here cold fairly be described as #Jrst8generation$ NLP!
consisting mainly of robst! tried8and8tested material%
There are detailed descriptions and systematic instrctions 'here
appropriate% Ho'e&er! this boo" does not attempt to describe the 'hole of
NLP in a deJniti&e 'ay ? there are nmeros other boo"s that do this and
references to some of them are inclded% I try to oMer a degree of depth of
description of the se of speciJc techni:es that is generally not a&ailable
from the standard NLP te(ts! and a depth of e(perience in their practical
application! inclding potential pitfalls in their se% I do not claim the NLP
techni:es described here to be in any 'ay prist descriptions) I ha&e been
sing NLP in coaching for a long time and ha&e de&eloped! in conInction
'ith my colleages! a nmber of little t'ea"s and &ariations that ha&e made
the NLP material really come ali&e in a coaching conte(t% I ha&e also noticed
that the responses that clients ha&e to the techni:es &ary so 'idely that the
bllet8point approach to describing the techni:es fond in many NLP boo"s
Ist do not prepare yo ade:ately for their se in real8life coaching
There is something of a permeable membrane bet'een NLP and the rest
of the de&elopment 'orld ? NLP has modelled and adapted approaches from
many other sorces and I do not Jnd it sefl to be too fssy abot distinctions
bet'een 'hat #is$ and 'hat #is not$ NLP% A practical 'ay of thin"ing
abot this boo" is that it is abot bsiness coaching 'ith an NLP accent% In
reality I se plenty of other coaching techni:es as 'ell as the NLP techni:es
I describe here! and share the fndamentals of the approach described by my
colleage 1enny Rogers in her boo" Coaching 3"ills) A Handboo"%
NLP is ad&ancing in its sophistication% 3ome of the techni:es and
approaches that NLP is spa'ning are highly sophisticated and elaborate%
There is! ho'e&er! a danger of too mch esotericism alongside this sophistication!
at least as far as many coaching clients are concerned% This boo"
focses primarily on the fondation material taght on NLP practitioner
corses ? a really otstanding body of material%
I ha&e fond o&er the years that 'hen NLP is eMecti&e in coaching its
seflness manifests itself in t'o main dimensions% One of these is inside the
coach$s head ? their nderpinning attitdes and presppositions abot NLP
as a search for e(cellence and resorceflness in self and others% The second
dimension is a set of NLP8deri&ed tools and approaches that are direct and
simple enogh for the bsiness client to ta"e on board 'ithot fear of alienating
them% The &ery term #NLP$ can be oM8ptting for a large proportion of
bsiness clients! many of 'hom are fearfl of! and sceptical abot! anything
that might smac"! according to their 'orld &ie'! of #psycho8babble$% One has
to remember that many bsiness clients in particlar come to coaching
ha&ing had little e(posre to modern de&elopment techni:es% This is trer
in some sectors than others of corse% I recently 'or"ed 'ith a senior military
oNcer and I introdced the sbIect of rapport s"ills) his blan" loo" told me I
needed metaphorically to trn bac" a fe' pages and chec" his nderstanding
of the concept of rapport% In his eMort to bild nderstanding he oMered the
information that! 'hile he had no strong idea abot 'hether his o'n rapport
s"ills 'ere p to scratch! he at least had not shot anyone for se&eral months% I
thin" he might ha&e been Io"ing%
I tend to se an NLP approach and 'or" 'ith NLP techni:es 'ithot
direct reference to NLP at all ? I rarely label the techni:es I se in coaching%
The maIority of the approaches described in this boo" are those I ha&e fond
it easy to introdce to a client 'hile maintaining a rapport ? a re2ection and
recognition of their 'orld &ie'! and their starting point in coaching rather
than mine% There are nmeros occasions 'hen the more sophisticated
techni:es are e(tremely sefl in coaching ? the "ey is to se the techni:es
in a manner that ensres the maintenance of rapport! and sometimes it ta"es
time to bild the conJdence of the client in both yo as a coach and the NLP
This boo" is emphatically not abot techni:es in search of problems to
sol&e% Rather it is abot loo"ing at some of the real scenarios and isses that
typically occr in coaching and sho'ing ho' NLP approaches can assist in
the coaching process%
3o this boo" might not be for yo if yo 'ant a deJniti&e NLP te(tboo"!
or a deJniti&e coaching gide ? I assme at least a basic "no'ledge of
coaching% I 'old also sggest yo loo" else'here if yo 'ant to read abot
academic research into either coaching or NLP! or if yo 'ant to engage
frther in the many debates abot coaching and its relationship to other
approaches and disciplines sch as therapy%
Ho'e&er! I hope yo 'ill thin" of the boo" as an interesting companion
and practical gide to a signiJcant part of the territory of coaching! 'ritten by
a practitioner 'ho has ta"en a long! and sometimes stmbling! path to a
particlar &ersion of e(pertise and e(perience% I also hope yo 'ill e(perience
some of the e(citement and pri&ilege I ha&e felt at helping some 'onderflly
resorcefl clients to ma"e progress%
Dhat is coachingK
Coaching is getting bigger all the time% A recent CIP+ ,Chartered Institte of
Personnel and +e&elopment0 stdy sggests that something li"e @G per cent
of organi<ations in the 6L employ some "ind of coaching as a means of
de&eloping eMecti&eness in their staM% Ten years ago coaching 'as &irtally
n"no'n as a bsiness tool in the 6L% To some degree the gro'th of the
profession can be seen as paralleled by the gro'th in a'areness of the 'hole
sbIect of emotional intelligence% Emotional intelligence ,or EI0 is based on the
recognition that personal eMecti&eness! and career sccess! is based only to a
limited degree on I9% Instead! more and more research is saying that career
sccess is dependent pon the ability to nderstand oneself! to manage
oneself eMecti&ely! to nderstand others and to manage relationships% In
practical terms! this means things li"e managing yor o'n moti&ation and
stress! being able to negotiate and in2ence eMecti&ely! bild and lead teams!
manage yor relationship 'ith yor boss! and so on%
These 'ere sbIects pre&iosly thoght of as #soft$ s"ills! the implication
sometimes being that they 'ere almost a sign of softness% In today$s bsiness
'orld! formal :aliJcations! technical s"ills and formal "no'ledge are Ist
commodities ? e&eryone e(pects a degree of competence as a gi&en% =o may
get appointed and achie&e initial career de&elopment on the bac" of yor I9
andOor yor :aliJcations! bt ltimately a lac" of EI 'ill potentially limit or
derail yor career%
Coaching sits as one of themost eMecti&e 'ays in 'hich people at 'or" can
bild their EI! ptting them in a position 'here they can ma(imi<e their career
potential and tili<e all of their personal resorces in reaching their goals%
Additionally! an increasing nmber of managers and leaders in organi<ational
life are disco&ering that by learning coaching s"ills for themsel&es
they can ha&e a direct impact on the eMecti&eness of their staM and in helping
their staM to bild EI themsel&es ? it is a generati&e process% This can! and
does! ha&e a direct eMect on the bottom8line eMecti&eness of indi&idal
Ho'e&er! coaching is more than abot de&eloping EI! important thogh
this is% Coaching is also abot helping clients to plan careers! dream! deal 'ith
crises! refocs their li&es! create a sense of meaning and belief for themsel&es
and generally refresh the 'ay they 'or" and lead their li&es% It is catalytic in
eMect and! at its best! transformational for the 'hole person%
The "ey to all this is that coaching actally 'or"s% I ha&e been engaged in
personal! team and organi<ational de&elopment acti&ities of &arying sorts for
nearly thirty years and ha&e seen nothing li"e it for far8reaching and costeMecti&e
+eJning coaching
Bor all its dynamic achie&ement! gro'ing proJle and potential! coaching in a
bsiness conte(t can be diNclt to deJne! e&en for coaches% An illstration)
or company! 7anagement Btres Ltd! rns a J&e8day coaching s"ills
corse! and as part of the corse 'e as" participants to arrange a practice
telephone coaching e(ercise on the e&ening of the second day% As part of the
preparation for this tas"! 'e as" participants to 'rite do'n their ans'er to the
:estion #Dhat is coachingK$ in no more than a sentence% De then get them
to stand p and mingle together! as if at a party! and ta"e it in trns to as"!
and then ans'er! this apparently simple :estion! assming no prior
"no'ledge on the part of the person 'ho is doing the as"ing% At the end of
the e(ercise! 'e in&ite each participant to redraft their original ans'er in the
light of ha&ing listened to the ans'ers of their colleages% The o&erall aim is
that they each ha&e at their Jngertips a 'or"ing deJnition or at least a clear
description of coaching 'ith 'hich they can feel comfortable% Corse participants
sally see this as a togh e(ercise! becase con&eying a handy
deJnition to a layperson is challenging%
It can be diNclt to tie coaching do'n to a satisfactorily tight deJnition
for a nmber of reasons)
C The term #coach$ has been synonymos 'ith sport for many years%
E&en 'ithin sport! there ha&e been many shades of meaning% Perhaps
the most persistent and traditional image is of the trac"8sited!
bello'ing male 'ho #coaches$ sing an nsbtle concoction of
e(hortation and threats% In more recent years the image of the sports
coach has e&ol&ed considerably! in many cases into a 3&engali8li"e
Jgre! a psychologically inclined #gr$ 'ho harnesses mysterios
mental techni:es aimed at impro&ing conJdence! remo&ing fear
and tension! and &isali<ing sccessfl otcomes% Perhaps the most
note'orthy in2ence on coaching from the 'orld of sport is the
Inner Game boo"s of Timothy Gall'ey% Birst pblished in the >A4.s
and pdated no'! these boo"s pioneered an approach to sporting
e(cellence based on the reali<ation that focsing on a sportsperson$s
personal mindset and resorceflness 'as more eMecti&e than trying
to teach or impose a model from the otside%
C There is confsion o&er the similarities 'ith other approaches sch
as mentoring! psychotherapy and conselling% This isse in particlar
attracts a lot of debate! and indeed an(iety! among both teachers and
stdents of coaching% I do not propose to add to the debate here
e(cept to say that I do not belie&e it to be deJniti&ely resol&able! and
from the prely practical perspecti&e I am not sre it matters that
mch% There is no dobt that there are o&erlaps bet'een each of
these disciplines ? sperJcially they e&en loo" and sond mch the
same! 'ith t'o people sitting in a room discssing the isses of one
of them% There is also no dobt that 'ithin each of them there are
great &ariations of approach from practitioner to practitioner and
from school of thoght to school of thoght% Psychotherapy! for
e(ample! has 'ithin it nmeros diMerent #orders$ rather in the 'ay
that there are diMerent sorts of mon"! all trying to Jnd God in their
&arios 'ays%
In any case! coaching certainly borro's and adapts from nmeros other
disciplines% One of the things that seems to diMerentiate the really polished
coach from the #Ist trained$ coach is a deep nderlying "no'ledge of &arios
other nderpinning psychological theories and techni:es% These inclde
Gestalt! Psychodynamics! Transactional Analysis! Person8Centred Conselling
and ,of corse0 NLP%
3o the real diMerences are blrred and there are nmeros parado(es at
play% Dithin all of this! I thin" it fairly safe to say there are some 'orth'hile
broad emphases 'ith each of the disciplines mentioned%
C 7entoring is generally regarded as a relationship in 'hich an older!
'iser! more e(perienced person gides another! sally in a conte(t
'here the mentor has a considerable degree of sbIect or conte(t
C Psychotherapy is sally seen as addressing psychological isses
in&ol&ing emotional sMering or discomfort! bt there is no dobt
that in some cases it can also be highly aspirational and de&elopmental
in style%
C Conselling is sally seen as a relationship based arond a short8term
isse or crisis! sch as marriage gidance! trama conselling or illness%
Ho'e&er! there are some forms of conselling that resemble
:ite closely some parts of coaching! and I 'old repeat that there
are some &ery blrred distinctions at times%
Coaching itself seems to ha&e many sb8di&isions! e%g% e(ecti&e coaching!
bsiness coaching! life coaching! career coaching and! of corse! sports
coaching% The reality here is that there is li"ely to be far more similarity than
diMerence in approach bet'een these forms of coaching! and that the distinctions
in name arise largely from conte(t rather than from approach%
7y o'n #dinner party$ deJnition of coaching o'es a hge debt to longtime
colleage and distingished athor 1enny Rogers! and to my other
colleages at 7anagement Btres Ltd! as 'ell as to &arios other 'riters!
teachers! trainers! stdents and spea"ers I ha&e encontered o&er the years% It
is this)
The coach helps the client increase their eMecti&eness in areas of life
and 'or" chosen by themsel&es! to goals and standards deJned by
This does not al'ays mean the client has to lea&e coaching groaning nder
the 'eight of an oneros action plan% Change can be achie&ed at the thin"ing
and feeling le&els as 'ell as at the le&el of beha&ior% I rather li"ed the deJnition
of coaching oMered by one of or stdents in the #Dhat is coachingK$
e(ercise described abo&e) she said! #Coaching is abot ta"ing someone$s
thin"ing 'here it has ne&er gone before%$ If someone is relie&ed of a brden of
'orry by changing the 'ay they thin" abot something! for e(ample! then
the principle holds good% Ho'e&er! it 'old be tre to say that for the
maIority of clients some action 'ill ta"e place in their li&es and 'or" becase
of coaching% If nothing seems to be changing then perhaps they do not really
'ant a coach! or they need a diMerent coach from yo%
Process not content
One of the featres that nderpins both coaching and NLP ,and therefore
ma"es coaching sing NLP so po'erfl0 is the focs that the coach has on the
process rather than the content% This means in essence that the coach is concentrating
on ho' a client is thin"ing! feeling and beha&ing rather than on
the 'hat of the isse they are 'or"ing on%
There is a good analogy here 'ith grop facilitation! in 'hich the facilitator
focses their energy on 'hat is going on bet'een the grop members
rather than on 'hat they are actally discssing% I can remember clearly ho'
an(ios I felt abot this isse in my early days as a facilitator and then as a
tyro coach% As a facilitator I felt sre I 'old lac" credibility if I did not "no'
enogh abot the sbIect nder discssion ? srely the grop 'old e(pect
me to be an e(pertK 7y an(iety abot this 'as nailed for e&er abot forteen
years ago 'hen I facilitated an e&ent for a &ery technical part of the **C) I can
honestly say I had &irtally no cle 'hat the grop 'ere tal"ing abot for
most of the day% As a facilitator I focsed on managing their energy and
dra'ing to their attention any patterns of interaction that seemed nhelpfl)
crcially I got them throgh their hgely comple( agenda on time% The day
'as prononced a sccess by the grop and the message Jnally got home to
me) facilitation is only abot the process%
I e(perienced similar an(ieties in my early days as a coach% 7y clients
seemed important and "no'ledgeable and I 'as often 'orried that they
'old consider me lac"ing in credibility if I 'as not at least respectably
"no'ledgeable in their 'orld of 'or"% I assmed they 'old &ale me only
for my sbIect e(pertise and ad&ice% Gradally! thogh! the reali<ation
da'ned that the less I "ne' abot the speciJcs of their Iob the better I 'old 'or"
'ith them% This reali<ation totally freed me p to do 'hat I do best ? to listen
attenti&ely! spot patterns of thoght and feeling! and help the clients to focs
in on their o'n resorces% 3o! do not read on ntil yo ha&e repeated this to
yorself se&eral times)
Coaching is abot the process! not the content%
Coaching is ne&er abot ad&ice
The reali<ations I had abot 'or"ing on process rather than content all the
time in coaching also freed me from the temptation to oMer ad&ice% This is
often one of the hardest things ne' coaches Jnd abot learning to coach%
After all! it feels a perfectly natral and indeed a desirable thing to do ? srely
yor client e(pects it! tooK The "ey point here is that in the end the client has
to li&e 'ith the changes they ma"e ? and deep do'n they al'ays "no' 'hat
is best for them! better than does the coach ,if the coach is doing the Iob right!
i%e% getting them in toch 'ith their personal resorces0% Also! if the ad&ice
goes 'rong for the client! gess 'ho ,rightly0 gets the blameK
Try this e(periment for yorself some time) as" a friend to name something
abot themsel&es they 'old li"e to change ,typical sbIects are lifestyle
isses sch as smo"ing! diet! drin"ing and e(ercise! managing a
troblesome relationship! ta"ing p a ne' hobby! etc%0% As" them to state the
isse clearly! then oMer them e&ery piece of information and ad&ice yo ha&e for
them on the sbIect% Dhen yo Jnish! as" them 'hat 'as ne' for them! 'hat
they learned! and ho' moti&ated and empo'ered they are to ma"e a change
on the basis of yor ad&ice% The chances are strong that they 'ill learn &ery
little or nothing ne'! and that they 'ill feel! if anything! e&en less inclined to
ma"e a change% =o might also try as"ing others for all their ad&ice and see
ho' little positi&e eMect it has on yo%
Dhy do clients see" coachingK
There are many reasons for this! typically inclding the follo'ing)
C career de&elopment dilemmas
C relationship isses at 'or"! e%g% managing the boss
C 'or"Olife balance isses
C isses arond conJdence in presenting and handling oneself! e%g% at
meetings or presentations
C handling stress or dissatisfaction
C ma"ing togh and important decisions
C reality chec"ing! e%g% are they doing the right things as a leaderK
3ometimes there is a mi(tre of these and other isses% As to 'hy they choose
coaching as opposed to other helping techni:es! I belie&e the ans'er to be in
coaching$s eMecti&eness! its gro'ing reptation and image! and its clear
personal focs%
Training! for e(ample! can oMer diminishing retrns as yo rise p the
corporate ladder ? each corse seems to ha&e less in it that directly relates to
'hat yo need to deal 'ith% As a trainer myself! I ha&e also noticed that more
senior people can be relctant to admit they need to impro&e on anything! or
to e(pose any of their o'n learning needs 'ithin a grop% In a conJdential
coaching session they can open p mch more and 'or" a lot more fran"ly
on the isses on 'hich they need to ma"e progress%
They can also get a le&el of feedbac" from their coach they might ne&er
get any'here else% It trly can be lonely at the top! and the #blind spot$ of self"no'ledge
that an indi&idal e(ecti&e might ha&e abot ho' they present
to others might go nremar"ed to them for years 'hile systematically! and
n"no'n to them! ha&ing a negati&e eMect on their reptation%
Conselling and psychotherapy tend primarily to deal 'ith the emotional
aspects of an isse! 'hereas coaching! 'hile it often enters into these
areas! is fndamentally practical in focs! leading to decisions! actions and
for'ard plans on &ery tangible isses) there is little chance of psychotherapy
oMering mch practical spport to an emotionally stable and happy manager
'ho 'ants to thin" throgh a strategic planning isse! for e(ample%
The clear parallel that coaching does ha&e 'ith conselling is in its personal
focs ? the le&el of attention paid to the client$s o'n personal agenda
and to themsel&es as hman beings% 7any senior leaders often lac" a trst'orthy!
discreet and helpfl e:al partner they can conJde in and 'or"
isses throgh 'ith ? and this is 'here coaching oMers a ni:ely focsed
Coaching does not foster dependency% Coaching contracts are generally
short ? say for to si( t'o8hor sessions ? and &ery focsed as a reslt% The
aim is to 'or" 'ith a degree of focsed rigor in helping a client to ma"e
progress on their agenda of the day%
Ho' a coaching session 'or"s
There is probably no sch thing as a #typical$ session! bt the maIority of
sessions I and my colleages hold 'ill be t'o hors long! and generally a
client 'ill ta"e p bet'een for and si( of these spread o&er se&eral months%
Dhere&er possible the sessions ta"e place at or oNce premises! 'here 'e
ha&e prpose8bilt rooms! or in hired oNce space sch as that oMered by
companies sch as Regs% In any case 'e strongly encorage clients not to se
their o'n oNces ? there is Ist no 'ay in 'hich they can mentally detach
from the direct pressres of 'or" on their o'n premises! and the ris" of
interrption is too great% On the t'o or three occasions I ha&e been tal"ed
into coaching on the client$s premises the sessions ha&e not 'or"ed 'ell ? the
feared interrptions ha&e in&ariably happened and the clients ha&e been
clearly distracted% 7any clients ha&e also reported the beneJts of ha&ing a
short Iorney to their coaching session ? it allo's them to clear their thoghts
in preparation and to digest their thoghts after'ards%
*earing in mind that there are many &ariations! a Jrst session 'ill sally
inclde the follo'ing! in this appro(imate order)
C rapport8bilding
C contractingOcreating a 'or"ing partnership
C bac"grond informationObrief atobiography
C e(ploration of isse,s0 to be discssed
C e(ploring the signiJcance of the isses
C e(ploring moti&ation and energy to tac"le the isseOisses
C e(ploring options for change andOor bloc"ages to progress
C identiJcation of possible 'ays for'ard
C e(ploring the feasibility and potential otcomes of these possible
'ays for'ard
C planning to deal 'ith any potential self8sabotage
C committing to actions or ne(t steps as appropriate
C e(ploring isses of accontability
C feedbac" to the coach%
3econd and sbse:ent sessions 'ill featre a re&ie' of 'hat has happened
bet'een sessions! i%e% 'here the real action ta"es place! bac" in the client$s o'n
'or" and life% Ho'e&er! the agenda may change radically from session to
session as the client enconters ne' and crrent isses% The coach rarely "no's
'hat to e(pect at any gi&en session! and needs to combine 2e(ibility in dealing
'ith t'ists and trns in the client$s agenda 'hile at the same time "eeping
a'are of any consistent themes or patterns that nderpin the isses raised%
Indeed it seems that the agenda the client brings initially is rarely the
actal or ltimate agenda they need to 'or" on% Coaching seems to be
eMecti&e at least partly becase its po'erfl :estioning approach encorages
a client to dig beneath the srface of an isse and nco&er its tre sorce and
signiJcance ? coaching gets to the heart of an isse :ic"ly%
Core coaching s"ills
Coaching can sond! sperJcially! li"e a con&entional con&ersation% Ho'e&er!
in reality it is highly strctred! 'hile retaining genine hmanity and a
degree of spontaneity% *ehind the apparent ease of con&ersation there are
many distinct s"ills at play% To list them all 'old be too lengthy for the
prposes of this boo" bt there are some that are indispensable% These inclde
rapport8bilding ,the sbIect of an entire chapter in this boo"0! attenti&e
listening! agenda8bilding! oMering feedbac"! as"ing po'erfl ,as opposed to
con&entional0 :estions! smmari<ing! challenging and interrpting% There
are nmeros boo"s that oMer e(cellent introdctions and instrctions on
these core s"ills%
Dhat is NLPK
I Jrst encontered NLP in >A@@% I had Ist some'hat rec"lessly pac"ed in a
ten8year career as a social 'or"er! and landed a ne' and e(citing Iob as a
management trainer 'or"ing at *rathay Hall! the de&elopment centre in the
La"e +istrict% The social 'or" e(perience! after a promising start! had e&entally
drained! disappointed and dispirited me% Dithin a fe' days of beginning
at *rathay I began! along 'ith all the other training staM! an in8hose
NLP Practitioner corse% I had no idea 'hat this 'as really abot% I had had
&ery little personal de&elopment training hitherto and did not e&en "no' the
e(tent of my o'n ignorance in the areaP to se the training Iargon ? I didn$t
"no' 'hat I didn$t "no'% I felt threatened and &lnerable and in the Jrst
cople of days of the NLP training I probably beha&ed fairly badly ? cynical!
defensi&e and dismissi&e% On abot the third day the trainer too" me to one
side to discss my apparent resistance% The pshot of this 'as me saying
something along the lines of) #OL! pro&e it 'or"s%$
The trainer as"ed me 'hat e&idence I 'old need to be con&inced that
NLP #'or"s$% The big isse I had at the time 'as fear of heights) there I 'as
'or"ing in an otdoor8based management training centre! 'here almost
e&ery day I 'as being trained in the necessary s"ills to 'or" 'ith grops in the
otdoors! fre:ently in the montains! and on roc" climbing and abseiling
sites! and I 'as terriJed of heightsQ 7y fear 'as intensiJed by 'hat 'as at
sta"e) ha&ing thro'n in my career in social 'or" it felt to me that e&ery
episode of heights8based acti&ity and training carried 'ith it not only
intrinsic physical ris"s bt also the ris" of career failre ? a personal script that
led &ery :ic"ly in my imagination to &isions of the gtter%
I challenged the NLP trainer to do something abot this% He too" me
throgh a comple( process of &i&id imagery to do 'ith my fndamental fears
in life o&erall and their relation to heights% At the end of this process he as"ed
me to imagine myself in a particlarly frightening heights sitation ? a
&isali<ation that pre&iosly had prodced in me a geninely phobic
response% I did the &isali<ation and noticed something missing) the terror
had gone! replaced by a rather nmb! mch lo'er8le&el fear% The &ery ne(t
day! I climbed p onto 3triding Edge! a steep areRte! and the scene of my Jrst
real heights terror! aged abot >-% To be honest I still fond it rather frightening!
bt I 'as at least able to cope 'ith it and not be fro<en to the spot 'ith
terror as I 'old dobtless ha&e been other'ise% I 'al"ed the ridge in both
directions! something that had been nimaginably frightening hitherto%
The conse:ence of this one NLP session 'as that I 'as able to stay
'or"ing at *rathay% +obtless my colleages there from that time 'ill
remember me as one of the least daring otdoorsmen to ha&e e&er 'or"ed in
the indstry! bt at least I 'as able to get by! to complete the safety training
re:ired and to ta"e my place on e(peditions and other &ertigo8indcing
acti&ities 'ithot collapsing 'ith terror e&ery day% Therefore! my career in
training 'as sa&ed! and I 'as con&inced abot NLP% Brom that day on I
absorbed the NLP training li"e a sponge and sbse:ently helped as an
assistant on a cople more practitioner corses to ma"e sre I had really got it%
The beneJts of the learning 'ere to gal&ani<e my life and career! gi&ing
both their biggest boost to date% I became positi&e! goal8focsed and far more
resorcefl as a trainer and in bsiness% I ha&e a lot to than" the trainer for at
that time in my life%
Later e(periences in NLP! 'hile contining on a broadly generati&e path!
ha&e nfortnately held some disappointments as 'ell as delights! not so
mch to do 'ith the techni:es themsel&es as 'ith the style of training and
indeed some of the indi&idal trainers in&ol&ed% I had a deeply disappointing
e(perience on my master practitioner corse! 'here one of the trainers 'as a
nasty blly% 7y most recent e(posre to NLP training earlier this year I fond
shoc"ing) the trainer strc" me as maniplati&e! egotistical and obsessed 'ith
money% Ho'e&er! he did "eep hammering home the message that all perception
of e(ternal reality 'as a proIection of internal isses so maybe it ,he0
'as my falt%
The pictre I ha&e of the NLP #indstry$ is one of something dynamic and
positi&e bt also tainted in places by perceptions of factionalism! ego8dri&en
con2ict! legal disptes and commercial greed% Dhat is more! the rather
grandiose8sonding claims made on behalf of NLP by some practitioners as
something that can cre all phobias at a stro"e and perform other #miracles$
do not seem to me to be re2ected in daily e(perience or a signiJcantly happier
poplation% I "no' some of these cres 'or" for some people some of the
time bt I rarely come across people 'ho tell tales of NLP transforming their
li&es in the 'ay it did mine% E&en as a fan and practitioner myself I 'old
certainly cation anyone against s'allo'ing NLP ncritically% The "ey is to be
able to identify those 'ho 'or" 'ell and ethically 'ith NLP ? than"flly! they
can be fond%
It is interesting to re2ect pon NLP as a social phenomenon% I ha&e heard
se&eral people li"en it to a modern seclar religion! and the analogy does
stand p in some 'ays% There are fonding father Jgres of the 7oses type in
*andler! Grinder and others% There is a &ersion of the Ten Commandments
,the NLP presppositions0% There is certainly something resembling a priesthood!
and some of the more 2amboyant trainers ha&e begn to resemble
prophets and grs 'ith cadres of #disciples$ in to'% There is something of
alchemy in the blend too ? a mi(tre of the promise of transformation 'ith
the increasing esotericism of techni:es the higher yo go p the hierarchy% I
am! fran"ly! personally sspicios of some of this% I disli"e anything that
smac"s of maniplation! and there is no dobt that on some of the large8scale
training e&ents yo e(perience maniplati&e techni:es sch as po'erflly
sggesti&e msic sed speciJcally to trigger certain planned types of response%
I also ha&e concerns abot the patent personal inathenticity of some of
these #gr$ trainers ? there are times 'hen they seem deeply incongrent in
their beha&ior% I ha&e heard nmeros attendees of practitioner corses 'ho
ha&e e(perienced the personality and approach of the trainers as a bloc" to
their learning ? they ha&e had to o&ercome their personal distaste for the
trainer in order to learn the s"ills on oMer% There is no dobt! ho'e&er! that
these large8scale e&ents represent a sccessfl bsiness model ? some corses
ha&e hndreds of participants! each paying thosands of ponds% 3ometimes
it is hard not to thin" of parts of the NLP indstry as get8rich8:ic" schemes%
*t I remain a fan and a practitioner% On the more positi&e side I "no'
personally many e(cellent practitioners 'ho incorporate their NLP training
into their o'n coaching! teaching! conselling or training practices 'ith
great eMect! and 'ho operate both ethically and hmbly% I thin" a sond
gideline if yo are loo"ing for an NLP trainer is to chec" their le&el of
hmility and athenticity! and their sense of being gronded in reality% They
need to be able to #'al" the tal"$! i%e% relate to people athentically) if yo
ha&e any dobts abot the character and personality of any prospecti&e
trainer I 'old certainly pay attention to those dobts! no matter ho' da<<ling
the oratory or ho' e(:isite the techni:e they oMer% 7ost training
NLP companies oMer #taster$ e&ents and I 'old certainly ad&ocate e(periencing
these before signing p to a practitioner corse 'hich sally lasts
arond t'enty days%
NLP in some 'ays becomes a 'ay of life in that it is so engaged 'ith the
deeper self in terms of attitdes! assmptions! &ales and beliefs% Dhen
'riting abot speciJc tools and techni:es 'ithin NLP it is important to
remember that none of these techni:es e(ists in isolation from the rest of
NLP ? the presppositions nite them all in a theoretical 'ay! bt the practitioner
can only se NLP eMecti&ely if the techni:es are flly integrated into
themsel&es in a congrent fashion% In practice therefore it is not appropriate
to thin" of sing NLP #techni:es$ as a doctor might prescribe a medicine% The
relationship bet'een coach and client is at the heart of coaching 'ith or
'ithot NLP) NLP is abot helping the minds of both client and coach to
'or" at their most eMecti&e! a set of processes and assmptions designed
to help them both be at their most resorcefl and for the relationship itself
to enhance the resorceflness of them both% Dhen coaching is going at its
best the coach and the client 'or" as a nit and the learning is a t'o8'ay
process% I 'old Jnd it impossible to be an eMecti&e coach if I 'ere not
learning from my clients all the time%
Origins of NLP
NLP! or Nero8Lingistic Programming! originated in California in the >A4.s%
This fact alone creates sspicion in the eyes of many *ritish managers! 'ho
often ha&e a strongly de&eloped scepticism abot anything #psychological$!
and e&en more particlarly abot anything Californian and psychological%
The originators 'ere Richard *andler! a mathematician! and 1ohn Grinder! a
lingistics professor% Originally! they loo"ed at the commnications s"ills
sed by a selection of otstandingly sccessfl therapists! 'ith a &ie' to
establishing speciJcally ho' they 'ere able to achie&e sccess in helping
clients to ma"e positi&e changes in their li&es% They and a grop of colleages
and stdents tried to establish an e(plicit model of Ist ho' e(cellent commnicators
'ere able to achie&e their reslts% Ne&ertheless e&en the e(perts
and fonders of NLP oMer diMerent deJnitions)
NLP is an accelerated learning strategy for the detection and
tili<ation of patterns in the 'orld% ,1ohn Grinder0
NLP is 'hate&er 'or"s% ,Robert +ilts0
NLP is an attitde and a methodology! 'hich lea&es behind a trail of
techni:es% ,Richard *andler0
NLP is the systematic stdy of hman commnication% ,Ale( &on
The actal term #Nero8Lingistic Programming$ arises from three main areas
of stdy)
>% Nerology) the mind and ho' 'e thin"%
-% Lingistics) ho' 'e se langage and ho' it aMects s%
F% Programming) ho' 'e se:ence or actions%
The essence of their approach 'as pragmatic and reslts8oriented rather than
theoretical% Richard *andler sccinctly described NLP as a process of helping
people to learn ho' to se their brains more eMecti&ely ? to rn their brains
rather than letting their brains rn them% They initially soght to disco&er
'hat actally 'or"ed in achie&ing positi&e reslts for therapy clients! by
e(amining the lin"s bet'een the actal beha&iors of the therapist and the
thoghts and feelings of the clients themsel&es% The essence of this learning
'as that e(cellence in the commnication Jeld had clear strctres% They
soght to disco&er these strctres and then to teach them% The
nderpinning attitdes they broght of criosity and pragmatism ha&e
reslted in ideas! models and techni:es based on the obser&ed realities of
ho' people thin" and beha&e%
This core idea! sally referred to as modelling! is based on a principle
that! once something can be described 'ith sNcient clarity and precision! it
can be taght and learned% I do not thin" NLP can be eMecti&ely labelled as a
static entity or a body of "no'ledge% I thin" of it as a process of en:iry into
'hat 'or"s for indi&idals! reslting in ne' and teachableOlearnable models
and strategies%
NLP is abot choice
NLP holds that #reality$ is not an obIecti&e constrct! something #ot there$!
bt something that people constrct indi&idally from their o'n perceptions
and thin"ing ,not a ni:e proposition in philosophical terms! bt one that
NLP see"s to place in the realms of practical action0% It follo's that there are
no t'o identical &ersions of reality and that 'e all e(perience 'hat 'e call
reality some'hat diMerently% E&ents are not only percei&ed diMerently by
each of s bt they also carry diMerent meanings at the le&el of &ales and
beliefs% A core contention of NLP is that if #reality$ is indi&idally constrcted
then indi&idals can ha&e choice in ho' they interpret and respond to things
otside themsel&es and ho' they manage their internal e(perience% Choice is
at the heart of NLP%
Ho' many people are trapped in their e&eryday habits) part nmb!
part frightened! part indiMerentK To ha&e a better life 'e mst "eep
choosing ho' 'e are li&ing% ,Albert Einstein0
Of corse! choice and change can be scary% This is particlarly so if people
thin" that by choosing they are losing% A good principle of helping people to
'or" to ma"e changes is to oMer reassrance that nothing is being ta"en a'ay
? only choices added%
NLP stdies ho' 'e constrct or internal e(periences and ma"e or
personal &ersion of #reality$% This incldes ho' 'e thin" abot! and e&en
create! or &ales and beliefs! ho' 'e create or emotional states and create
meaning in or li&es% A clear focs for this in NLP is or se of the J&e sensory
systems) seeing! hearing! feeling! smelling and tasting% Each of s ses these
'ith diMerent degrees of emphasis and 'ith or o'n ni:e internal grammar
and synta( of sensory e(perience% NLP teaches that 'e can gro'
increasingly a'are of or patterns of perception and interpretation! and in so
doing can create the possibility of choosing patterns that are more eMecti&e
for orsel&es! and help others to do so too% This is one of the most radical
propositions that NLP oMers! and one that separates it ot as a practical
de&elopmental tool%
Ho' NLP and coaching 'or" together
There is no dobt that NLP is ha&ing a profond in2ence pon the de&elopment
of coaching practice% NLP techni:es are taght 'holesale on some
coaching corses! 'ithot necessarily being labelled as sch% In some cases it
can be hard to see the Ioin and there are nmeros coaches for 'hom NLP is
already part of a core methodology%
The o&erlaps in terms of practical techni:es are rooted in some
fndamental similarities at the le&el of core principles of practice% NLP is
nderpinned by a set of operating assmptions or principles called #presppositions$
in NLP circles% There is a fascinating degree of o&erlap and
compatibility bet'een the presppositions sed by NLP practitioners and the
principles 'e se in coaching% As 'ith or coaching principles! NLP presppositions
are intended to operate not as intellectal trths bt as essential
attitdes and assmptions% 3o crcial are these presppositions to NLP that
they form a fondation of attitde and assmption 'ithot 'hich NLP 'old
ha&e no binding strctre% I inclde a chapter on this speciJc sbIect%
1st as the presppositions and principles of coaching are compatible! so
are the practical methodologies% Brom my point of &ie' of see"ing to practise
integrated! NLP8accented coaching! it is getting harder and harder to see the
Ioin% 3o) NLP and coaching together ? a po'erfl combination prodcing
practical! robst reslts in an enIoyable and empo'ering 'ay%
Contracting 'ith clients sing NLP
3ome s"ills and techni:es in coaching can be approached in nmeros 'ays!
and it is al'ays sefl to ha&e a 'ide repertoire of approaches 'hate&er their
pro&enance% It is essential in coaching to ha&e a clear! mtally agreed contract
in place bet'een client and coach ? something that sets in place
e(plicitly e(actly ho' they are going to 'or"! and 'hat their mtal
e(pectations are% Coaching can fonder for lac" of clarity at the otset! and
this is a step in the coaching process that simply cannot be s"imped% At the
&ery least! coach and client shold engage 'ith the follo'ing :estions)
C Dhat mst yo get from the coachingK
C Ho' 'ill yo "no' 'hen yo$&e got itK
C Ho' can I as coach help yo to get 'hat yo needK
C Ho' can yo help yorself to get 'hat yo needK
C Ho' might yoO'eOI sabotage the processK
C Ho' 'ill yoO'eOI ensre this does not happenK
A sefl addition to contracting techni:e! ta"en e(plicitly from NLP! is
called ftre pacing% This techni:e dra's on the 'or" of seminal medical
hypnotherapist 7ilton Eri"sson% One of the many stories told abot Eri"sson
in&ol&ed his con&ersation 'ith a mentally ill patient 'ho had so far failed to
respond to all treatments oMered him% Eri"sson opened his discssion 'ith
the patient by as"ing him to describe 'hen he gets betterQ *y so doing he
created an e(plicit assmption that the patient 'old get better% The patient
responded by describing a time some years in the ftre 'hen he felt he
'old ha&e reco&ered% Eri"sson then as"ed him to imagine he 'as actally at
that ftre point in time! loo"ing bac" on the inter&ening years! and as"ed
him 'hat the treatment had been that cred him% The patient described the
steps needed! and the treatment programme 'as able to begin % % %
Btre pacing
A simple adaptation of the techni:e called #ftre pacing$ 'or"s e(tremely
'ell in coaching% At yor Jrst session! as" yor client to imagine they are
lea&ing their Jnal session 'ith yo% ,=o may 'ish to set the e(pectation in
ad&ance that yo are going to as" them to do something a little northodo(%0
Get them to imagine that! as they are lea&ing the last session! they are
re2ecting on ho' &alable the sessions ha&e been ? in fact far e(ceeding their
'ildest e(pectations% ,Chec" 'ith them that they are actally allo'ing
themsel&es to do this ? perhaps pointing ot ho' &alable mental rehearsal is
in creating positi&e performance%0 Binally! as" them the "ey :estions) #3o!
Ist 'hat did 'e do to create this sccessK Ho' did 'e 'or" together! speciJcally!
to be so sccessflK$ 7a"e sre the client al'ays ans'ers in the past
tense! sing phrases sch as) #De tac"led the really togh isses$ or #=o
challenged me hard$% It is sefl at the end of this process Ist to smmari<e
'hat it is the client intiti&ely "no's 'ill 'or" for them% The "ey to the
techni:e is that it taps into the intiti&e 'isdom of the client! pro&iding a
simple bt elegant strctre that allo's this 'isdom free e(pression% It also
oMers the client a means to do some positi&e mental rehearsal! in itself a
po'erfl tool%
I ha&e yet to meet a client 'ho 'ill not respond to this e(ercise 'ith
sefl insight into 'hat is going to ma"e the sessions 'or" for them% Note that
the :estioning itself implies a partnership approach%
Btre pacing can also be sefl at other points in the coaching process!
for e(ample in Jnding 'ays for'ard 'hen the client might feel temporarily
It 'old be 'rong! ho'e&er! to thin" of coaching as merely the application
of s"ills or a management of principles and processes% At the heart of
coaching is a hman relationship! sometimes one as close as bsiness or e&en
social protocol allo's to a toching of sols% The coach is in a hgely pri&ileged
position! 'or"ing in partnership 'ith someone 'ho has chosen to act
positi&ely on the belief that something fndamentally important in their life
andOor 'or" can be impro&ed by 'or"ing 'ith yo as a coach% Often the
client in this relationship is at their most &lnerable and open at the &ery
point 'hen yo as a coach are 'or"ing 'ith them to be at their most
resorcefl% Ths! polar e(tremes of &lnerability and empo'erment can be
present in the same room! at the same time and in the same person! all in the
coach$s pri&ileged presence%
All of this is in dynamic 2( and needs absolte care of Idgement on the
coach$s part in balancing the many apparent ,and sometimes hidden0 contradictory
dri&ers! for e(ample)
C the need to balance learning and the bilding of nderstanding 'ith
the dri&e for change and action
C the need to spport the client in their &lnerability and yet challenge
them hard to achie&e their goals
C the need to con&ey respect and empathy 'hile not collding 'ith
the client
C the need to tac"le isses holistically 'hile focsing on actions that
may be rele&ant only in a speciJc conte(t%
The coach shold ne&er! e&er be a set of techni:es in search of an isse to
practise on% If in dobt as to 'hat to do! as" the client 'hat they thin" they
need! remembering they are not there to be #J(ed$ by yo bt to 'or"
alongside yo% Trst that by listening attenti&ely! as"ing po'erfl :estions
and stic"ing to the principles of coaching and the presppositions of NLP!
yo 'ill be helping the client to become more resorcefl%
In the follo'ing chapters I describe a nmber of scenarios dra'n from
years of coaching in 'hich NLP techni:es ha&e helped to prodce great
reslts for the client% Please note that the clients$ names are in all cases Jctional!
and sometimes the e(amples are composites) bt in e&ery case the
isse 'as a real one broght by a real client or more than one client%
- A solid fondation
The presppositions of NLP
The presppositions of NLP ha&e de&eloped o&er time as core attitdes and
principles nderpinning all approaches and techni:es that NLP has
spa'ned% They are not intended as propositions of intellectal trth! bt as attitdes
and assmptions consistent 'ith resorcefl thin"ing and beha&ior%
Their apparent simplicity! and their radical :ality! sometimes pro&o"e
accsations of &age idealism! bt in reality they are e(tremely pragmatic!
and from the coach$s perspecti&e absoltely in&alable in Jnding "eys to help
clients nloc" needed resorces% Each of the presppositions is independently
sefl! bt they are at their most po'erfl 'hen lin"ed together to create a
frame'or" and strctre of mtally reinforcing attitdes and assmptions%
Nmeros practitioners ha&e de&eloped and created these presppositions
o&er the years! and ne' ones emerge for discssion fre:ently% =o only
ha&e to tap in #NLP presppositions$ on Google ,-@!-.. sites connected to the
sbIect at the last loo"0 to be met 'ith a demonstration of the interest that
NLP presppositions create% The formlations &ary some'hat depending
pon 'hich athor yo read! bt the fndamental presppositions can be
described as follo's%
#The map is not the territory$
This prespposition sets ot the idea that the 'ay 'e e(perience the 'orld is
not the 'ay the 'orld actally is! bt is or interpretation of it% In simple
terms! this means 'e are al'ays to some degree separated from #reality$% De
tend to create! and respond to! or personal #map$ rather than relating
directly to the 'orld as it occrs in the present% Or #maps$ are at one le&el
composed of or direct sensory e(perience! bt they are also attempts to pt
meaning! nderstanding and strctre arond this e(perience% This is a sefl
thing to a point! of corse ? 'e need a degree of meaning and strctre in
order to operate in the 'orld at all% Ho'e&er! the do'nside of or mapma"ing
is that no matter ho' detailed the map is! it is ne&er 'holly accrate
or complete ? the map is not actally the place it depicts% In time! 'e tend to
come to belie&e that the map is the territory ? that the 'orld is actally ho'
'e represent it to orsel&es% This is &ery signiJcant in terms of ho' 'e see
things! in particlar the 'ords and actions of other people ,each of 'hom is!
of corse! the creator of their o'n map0! and ho' 'e Idge and respond to
De ha&e! according to this prespposition! choice as to ho' 'e respond
and beha&e in relation to or #maps$% To begin 'ith! 'e can be a'are that the
map is Ist that ? a representation! not reality itself% If or map is ma"ing s
nhappy in some 'ay! for e(ample in ho' 'e are Idging and responding to
the beha&ior of others 'ho do not beha&e in a 'ay consistent 'ith or map!
'e can choose to learn ne' responses% In coaching! many clients are nhappy
'ith the beha&iors of other people in their 'or" and li&es) they often ha&e
clear &ie's abot ho' these others #oght$ to beha&e% The coach has the
possibility of 'or"ing throgh these isses on the basis of the prespposition%
To begin 'ith! the coach can dra' the client$s attention to the &ery fact that
ho' they are interpreting something is not an obIecti&e reality! bt a constrction%
This in itself can be helpfl for some clients% O&er and abo&e this!
coaches can 'or" 'ith clients to loo" at ho' accrate and reliable their maps
are ? for e(ample! at the formati&e e(periences and in2ences that helped
create the maps in the Jrst place ? and help them pt in place more sefl
The coach can also help the client to nderstand that the map is distancing
them from 'hat is actally going on or happening arond them
rather than focsing on ho' things #oght$ to be) they can help clients to be
more #present$! that is! more responsi&e to 'hat is actally going on rather
than responding to their #pre8Idged$ otloo"%
Another positi&e for the coach arising ot of this prespposition is that it
is sally easier to help someone change their personal #map$ of reality than
to collde in their attempts to change the 'orld% 7any people are made
nhappy becase the 'orld is not to their li"ing! bt the only place a real
change can be made is inside the head ? to ho' a person both sees and
responds to the 'orld% There 'as a *ig Isse seller 'ho operated in central
London some years ago% He 'as particlarly 'ell organi<ed! and plied his
trade ne(t to a small stall made of something li"e mil" crates! against 'hich
he 'old position a placard otlining his #Thoght for the +ay$% One day his
placard read) #Happiness is not abot 'hat happens to yo) it is abot 'hat
yo do abot 'hat happens to yo%$ This encapslates one of the "ey aspects
of the prespposition) that 'e al'ays ha&e choice abot ho' 'e interpret and
respond to or circmstances% This is so important in 'or"ing 'ith #stc"$
clients! 'ho can see no 'ay for'ard on their isse) if the coach is able to help
the client see that the 'ay they are seeing the isse is the isse! or at least part
of it! then the client can Jnd 'ays of redra'ing their #map$ to ma"e the isse
less of an obstacle than they thoght it 'as%
Another dimension of this po'erfl prespposition is that of rapport% As
discssed in its o'n chapter! rapport s"ills are at the heart of sccessfl
relationships% The person 'ho is a'are that e&eryone is e(periencing and
nderstanding the 'orld in often radically diMerent 'ays has an enormos
head8start 'hen it comes to the creation of rapport 'ith a 'ide range of
people% *eyond this! the ability to #tne in$ ,or! to se the NLP Iargon! #calibrate$0
to someone else and ths Jnd cles in their langage and beha&ior as
to ho' they are e(periencing themsel&es and nderstanding the 'orld allo's
one to adIst one$s o'n langage and beha&ior in 'ays that are li"ely to
create rapport) bt all this starts from the fndamental assmption that or!
and their! maps are not the territory%
Bor the NLP coach the process of constantly chec"ing in on the #maps$ of
or clients is an essential part of or approach% The maps inclde the sensory
patterns sed by the clients! their 'ord sage and its indicators of &ales!
beliefs and assmptions! body langage and indeed the 'hole 'ay the client
is commnicating ? inclding 'hat they are not saying%
#If one person can do something! other people can
learn to do it$
De can learn an achie&er$s mental #map$ and ma"e it or o'n% This is abot
the important part of NLP "no'n as modelling% 7odelling is abot identifying
'hat it is that people 'ho are sccessfl in some beha&ior or Jeld actally
and speciJcally do that helps them to be sccessfl% Dhen the critical diMerences
ha&e been recogni<ed and identiJed they can be learned or taght ?
gi&en sNcient moti&ation and commitment on the part of the learner%
Bor me the real meat of this prespposition is the challenge it creates for
those clients 'ho belie&e or assme they are nable to achie&e to the degree
of sccess they 'old 'ish for in a gi&en area% 7any clients assme that
others are sccessfl becase they ha&e special talents or gifts that set them
apart% The reality is that e&ery talent has a strctre and a synta(! or se:ence!
of sensory e&ents and beha&iors% The challenge is often to be able to brea"
these s"ills do'n into small enogh chn"s that they can be learned%
An e(ample from recent coaching e(perience is that of Chris! a client from
the hospitality indstry 'ho 'anted to be a more eMecti&e pblic spea"er bt
did not belie&e she had the re:ired #talent$% 7y approach 'ith her 'as to as"
her to identify a selection of spea"ers from the pblic arena she personally
admired! and engage 'ith her in analysing in some detail Ist ho' they got
the reslts they got% The reslts 'ere a minor re&elation for Chris ? she reali<ed!
after :ite a lot of analytical 'or"! that attribtes she had labelled as
#presence$ or #charisma$ 'ere in fact composed of easily replicable beha&iors
sch as pasing! standing still and s'eeping the adience 'ith her eyes% It 'as
a re&elation to her that 'hat she had thoght of as #special$ talents 'ere in
fact easily 'ithin her po'er to learn! and becase she had the moti&ation and
commitment! she 'ent on to learn them%
This prespposition is not a blan" che:e! ho'e&er) no one is saying that
absoltely e&eryone can learn to do absoltely e&erything% Often! a particlar
degree of! say! intelligence or physical capability is re:ired% *t e&en the
apparently least able in a gi&en area can ma"e great strides to'ards
impro&ements and sccess if they are 'illing to pt in the eMort of analysis
and to try ot ne' beha&iors% This is 'here the coach can be of hge help in
spporting and challenging clients to Jnd resorces 'ithin themsel&es they
may not ha&e been a'are of ? the essence of coaching%
#If yo go on doing 'hat yo are crrently doing yo
are li"ely to go on getting the same reslts as yo are
getting no'$
There is a common pro&erb that goes) #If at Jrst yo don$t scceed! try! try!
again%$ De read as children ho' Robert the *rce 'as inspired by a dogged
spider to resme his o'n strggle% At the heart of this story is the principle of
persistence% The problem 'ith this other'ise admirable principle is that if 'e
persist in actions or beha&iors that are not 'or"ing for s! they are li"ely to
contine not to 'or" for s no matter ho' often 'e try them% De sometimes
need more than persistence alone to scceed! becase circmstances change
all the time! and 'hat has 'or"ed for s in the past might ha&e a la' of
diminishing retrns% If yo shot at the children to beha&e! and they don$t!
then shoting loder or more often is nli"ely to ha&e mch eMect%
This is 'hy ma"ing a decision on the basis that #that$s the 'ay 'e ha&e
al'ays done it$ is often the prelde to failre% The "ey here is to &ary yor
beha&ior ntil yo get 'hat yo 'ant! rather than do more of 'hat is not
'or"ing% I see nmeros managers 'ho are p<<led and e(hasted becase
the harder they 'or"! the less sccess they are getting in their Iobs) at some
point in their careers they learned that 'or"ing hard increased their chances
of sccess! bt they did not reali<e that a beha&ior that gets them to a certain
point may actally pre&ent them from ma"ing progress to the ne(t stage%
Contining in homily mode! in beha&ioral terms #the &ery thing that ma"es
yo rich can ma"e yo poor$%
Bor the coach! the prespposition therefore translates into the practice of
encoragingOchallengingOspporting clients to try ne' beha&iors and
approaches 'here the old ones are no longer 'or"ing as 'ell as they did%
A recent e(ample in my o'n coaching 'as Glynn! a manager in a technical
part of a broadcasting organi<ation% Bor years I had 'or"ed 'ith Glynn on
&arios proIects ? team8bilding e&ents! facilitating a'ay8days and so on% He
had al'ays had something of an abrasi&e personal style) not absi&e in any
'ay! bt :ite argmentati&e and forcefl in ptting his &ie's across%
6nfortnately! he 'as not so strong on follo'8throgh) once the argment
'as #'on$ in principle he tended not to go on and enforce his decision 'ith
his staM% In eMect! his bar" 'as mch 'orse than his bite% O&er the years his
staM had come to read his beha&ior and to play p to it! reslting in t'o
negati&es for Glynn) his &ie's and #decisions$ tended to be largely ignored!
and as his frstration gre'! so did his reptation as a poor commnicator%
Ho'e&er! he had come to belie&e that his forthright manner 'as his only real
strength in managing a demanding set of staM% In or coaching 'e gradally
'or"ed rond to the ideas of trying a totally diMerent approach! in eMect the
re&erse of 'hat had long since ceased to be eMecti&e% Glynn agreed to try a
ne' approach that in&ol&ed a radical change to his commnication style!
'ith far more emphasis on listening! combined 'ith relentless thogh calm
insistence on his decisions being implemented% To begin 'ith 'e focsed on
small! almost tri&ial decisions! bt gradally 'or"ed p to the mch more
important ones% Glynn$s staM came to learn that his decisions 'ere not to be
ignored! and gradally came to appreciate his mch more recepti&e commnication
#=or mind and yor body are indi&isible parts of
the same interacti&e system$
Bor some time in the Dest the medical profession in particlar too" an
approach to healing based on increasing "no'ledge of the fnctioning of the
body$s constitent parts% This led to a symptom8led approach in 'hich the
speciJc part of the body sho'ing the distress 'as treated% This 'as mirrored
by a general scientiJc preoccpation 'ith disco&ering and isolating smaller
and smaller particles of matter% Only in the last cople of decades has practical!
&eriJable scientiJc e&idence emerged to sho' beyond dobt that
mental acti&ity and the fnctions of the body are integrally lin"ed ? at the
same time as science is generally adopting 'hole8system thin"ing as the
norm% 3o! for e(ample! mental stress can no' be lin"ed to the 'ea"ening of
the immne system and ths a lo'ering of general health! and the e(istence
of #psychosomatic$ ,literally #of mind and body$0 illness is 'idely accepted%
Brom the coach$s point of &ie' this prespposition! 'hen translated into
practical applications! adds an e(tremely important dimension to the 'ays in
'hich clients can be spported in becoming more resorcefl% At its simplest!
it is important for the coach to pay attention to the physical aspects of their
client$s beha&ior% +oes the body langage match p 'ith the 'ords being
spo"en! for e(ampleK Ho' resorcefl can a client really feel if their body is
slmped and their eyes are constantly on the grondK Clients 'ho seem
rooted to a problem8focs in their thin"ing and spea"ing 'ill almost certainly
re2ect this in some aspect of their physical presentation% It is open to the
coach to oMer feedbac" on this as a means of encoraging a more positi&e
physical state% It is also part of the coach$s s"ill to model a more helpfl
physical presentation by matching pacing and leading the client$s physical
being% ,7ore on this in Chapter F%0
7ore radical inter&entions are a&ailable too% =o might try the follo'ing
e(ercise for yorself% Thin" of an isse of yor o'n that yo consider problematical%
As yo thin" abot the isse! adopt a slmped! negati&e postre
'ith eyes loo"ing at the grond% Pay attention to 'hat the problem loo"s li"e!
sonds li"e and feels li"e to yo% Ne(t! Ist go for a 'al" otside) coach
yorself on 'al"ing to the absolte pea" of enIoyment! ma"ing any adIstments
yo see Jt to breathing! pace! rhythm! etc% Dhile yo are contining to
'al" in this optimm 'ay! mentally re&isit the problem yo Jrst thoght of
'hile maintaining the perfect 'al"ing% Notice the diMerence in the 'ay the
#problem$ loo"s! feels and sonds% I garantee there 'ill be changes%
=o may choose at some point to oMer this e(perience to one or more of
yor clients ,after all! 'ho said coaching has to be t'o people sitting in a
room all the timeK0%
#People ha&e all the resorces they need$
*y resorces 'e generally refer to s"ills! states! :alities and attribtes%
E(amples that come p fre:ently in coaching inclde conJdence! corage
and compassion ,three &ery important #co$ e(amples 'ithin coaching0% The
prespposition does not literally mean that anybody can achie&e anything
'hatsoe&er! bt rather points to the fact that the basic bilding bloc"s of or
e(periences in life ? or perceptions! responses and actions ? form the basis of
or mental and e&en physical resorces! and that these are far more complete
than 'e sometimes thin" 'hen 'e percei&e orsel&es to be in #resorce
Brom a coach$s point of &ie'! to belie&e e(plicitly or implicitly the
opposite prespposition! i%e% that 'e are all fndamentally limited in or
resorceflness! has t'o important negati&e conse:ences or li"ely coaching
otcomes) ,>0 'e 'ill stop loo"ing for resorces in or clients! and ,-0 or
negati&e e(pectations 'ill transmit themsel&es to or clients at conscios and
nconscios le&els%
Of corse! in order to be able to se a resorce yo mst Jrst be a'are
that yo ha&e it% NLP is rich in #resorce8locating$ techni:es ,many of 'hich!
sch as the meta8mirror! anchoring and time8line therapy are described in
this boo"0% Each of them in some 'ay reconnects the client 'ith some personal
resorce that he or she has deJnitely had access to in their li&es bt
'hich appears to them no' to be temporarily na&ailable%
=o also need to "no' ho' to se the resorces yo possess appropriately
and in the right conte(t) a corscating 'it is perhaps not appropriate in
sitations calling for tact and sensiti&ity! for e(ample%
#=o cannot not commnicate$
De are al'ays commnicating! at least non8&erbally! and 'ords are often the
least important part% De are e&en in2encing others 'hen 'e are not physically
there% If yo dobt this! consider ho' yo thin" or feel abot a scary or
diNclt boss or colleage! and ho' these thoghts and feelings sbtly
in2ence yor beha&ior to'ards them in ad&ance of any contact 'ith them)
or thin" abot the positi&e feelings and responses yo ha&e for an absent
friend% E&en some of or thoght processes ,speciJcally! 'hether 'e are
processing &isally! aditorily or "inaesthetically! for e(ample0 are re&ealed to
others in or eyes! &oice! postres and body mo&ements% *y the same to"en
'e in2ence others and ha&e impact on them e&en if 'e choose to 'ithdra'
#direct$ commnication in 'ords ? I ha&e seen many a meeting dominated by
someone 'ho stays silent throghot%
One implication of this is for or responsibilities as commnicators% I
once 'or"ed as coach 'ith a manager 'hose personal style 'as tight8lipped!
e&en secreti&e% He felt his beha&ior to be appropriate and e&en heroic ? he
sa' himself as sholdering all the brdens of his department and protecting
his staM from ha&ing to 'orry abot pressres he 'as dealing 'ith alone% He
'as shoc"ed to get feedbac" from his staM that described him as scary! aloof
and ntrsting% The fact that they ne&er "ne' e(actly 'hat he 'as thin"ing
abot led them to speclate and fantasi<e ? and this is almost al'ays a
negati&e e(perience% As psychologist Carl Rogers says! a lac" of feedbac" is
inherently pnishing at a psychological le&el ? not "no'ing is not a netral
#The meaning of yor commnication is the response
that yo get$
This means that 'hate&er yo thin" is the meaning of the message yo are
sending ot to others 'hen yo commnicate! or 'hate&er its intent! the real
meaning of the message is 'hat people actally recei&e ? the meaning they
attach to it% People 'ill respond to 'hat they thin" yo mean! 'hich may or
may not be an accrate interpretation of yor intended meaning% And of
corse! mch of yor commnication is contained in its non8&erbal aspects!
particlarly commnication abot! or in&ol&ing! any degree of feeling or
emotion% Therefore! if 'e aspire to commnicate eMecti&ely as coaches 'e
mst be constantly a'are of other people$s responses to 'hat 'e are saying
,both their &erbal and non8&erbal responses0 and adIst or commnication
accordingly! rather than assme they 'ill atomatically nderstand 'hat 'e
mean them to nderstand%
This is a challenging proposition for coaches and clients ali"e% I ha&e
encontered many managers 'ho in coaching sessions e(press their frstration
at being #misnderstood$ by their staM or colleages% One sch manager
described ho' pset he 'as at getting feedbac" that he 'as constantly critical
of his staM% Dhen 'e loo"ed at his actal beha&ior! he admitted that a high
proportion of his 'ords 'ere indeed critical! bt he in fact felt e(tremely
positi&e abot most of their 'or"% #3rely they reali<e I lo&e AA per cent of
'hat they doK$ he said once% 6nfortnately for him! they did not! and it too"
a nasty shoc" in the form of some &ery blnt feedbac" to alert him to the
reality of ho' his commnication 'as being recei&ed% This prespposition
acts as a po'erfl stimls for the coach in helping clients to recogni<e that
the responsibility for being nderstood rests primarily 'ith them%
#Change ma"es change$
Dhen yo ma"e a change in coaching it is important to reali<e that the
change! ho'e&er positi&e! has conse:ences for the rest of yor personal
system ? both inside yorself and otside yorself% 3o coaches need to thin"
abot change for their clients holistically! and help clients to thin" throgh
the 'hole8system implications of e&en the most apparently beneJcial change%
As a simple e(ample! if in coaching a client decides to go for a promotion! one
of the 'ays in 'hich the coach can help is to get the client to thin" throgh
all the other things that might change! or need to change! if they are sccessfl
? 'or" patterns! relationships 'ith colleages and so forth) e&en
things in the personal or domestic realm may e(perience relati&ely sbtle
changes that need to be thoght throgh or acted pon%
Another dimension of this prespposition is the concept that in order to
change beha&ior in others 'e mst ma"es changes orsel&es ? something
that becomes &ery clear in e(ercises sch as the meta8mirror% 7any clients
come to coaching 'ith the initial assmption that their coaching need is to
change someone else in some 'ay% In coaching! change is focsed on 'hat
yo need to change) if yo Jnd yorself being bllied at 'or"! for e(ample!
the core to changing the sitation is to do 'ith ho' yo yorself beha&e
rather than trying to change in any direct 'ay ho' the blly acts%
#E&ery beha&ior has a positi&e intention$
This is a prespposition that needs especially carefl e(planation for some
people% The essential meaning is that e&ery beha&ior emanates at root from
some positi&e need or desire on the part of the creator of the beha&ior ?
'hether or not it has positi&e eMects for themsel&es or for others% The "ey idea
is that e&eryone is fndamentally trying to ser&e! at the least! their o'n best
interests throgh their beha&iors) 'here the beha&ior actally prodces a
negati&e reslt for themsel&es or others it is becase their choice of beha&ior
is 'rong! not their intention% Brom those see"ing to test this prespposition I
ha&e often been as"ed :estions li"e #Dhat abot HitlerK Dhat 'as his
positi&e intention in mrdering millionsK$ I do not "no' anything abot
Hitler$s psyche and cold not presme to "no' e(actly 'hat he 'as trying to
do for himself or for his contry) if forced to speclate! I 'old as" 'hat he
might ha&e been trying to get ot of it ? perhaps! as 'ith so many bllies! a
sense of reassrance or of signiJcance% Ho'e&er! if I 'ere 'ith an actal client
'hose beha&ior 'as casing sMering for others I 'old as" myself! and
them! Ist 'hat their beha&ior 'as trying to achie&e in order to gain
nderstanding before loo"ing at more positi&e alternati&e choices% This is not
abot liberal relati&ism or any other form of ideological con&iction on my
part) it is abot loo"ing for practical options for more desirable 'ays of
helping someone to satisfy their o'n needs in 'ays that may also beneJt
The child 'ho feels insecre or 'ho needs more attention may resort to
bllying or disrpti&e beha&ior in the attempt to secre 'hat they need! and
'e may! from an orthodo( &ie'point! infer that their intention is #bad$ or
#e&il$ 'hen in fact it is only the beha&ior that needs to change ? there is no
need to demoni<e the child! nor is there any beneJt to be gained from doing
so% Bor the coach this means helping the client to recogni<e that their o'n
beha&ior is rooted in positi&e intention) if they can 'or" ot the intention
of their beha&ior! then they can loo" for more eMecti&e 'ays of getting the
intention met% This does not mean that 'e need to appro&e or tolerate
negati&e or antisocial beha&ior in orsel&es or others ? it means only that 'e
need to nderstand the basic positi&e intention of that beha&ior in order
loo" for better alternati&es or choices%
Bortnately! in e(ecti&e coaching the e(amples of this prespposition in
action are rarely to do 'ith sch e(treme beha&iors as those referred to
abo&e% I recently 'or"ed 'ith a &ery talented msician! Tom! 'hose conJdence
'as so lo' he 'as nable to perform any more in pblic% He told me
ho' his ner&os beha&ior had begn in infancy 'hen! rather than ris" the
sharp disappro&al of his father! 'ho 'old shot criticism at him if he said! or
did! anything the father percei&ed as #'rong$! he 'old retreat into silence
and &olntary isolation% In later life the critical father #became$ the adience
in his mind! and he gre' e(tremely apprehensi&e abot the disappro&al he
imagined his adience 'old e(press if he made a mista"e dring performance%
He decided not to ta"e the ris" any more) 'ith a hge sense of frstration
he ga&e p pblic performance% One of the brea"throghs 'e 'ere
able to achie&e in coaching 'as for him to reali<e that his ner&os beha&ior
'as not some "ind of despicable disabling 'ea"ness in him ,'hich 'as ho'
he had thoght abot it for forty years0 bt 'as actally trying to do something
positi&e for him) that is! it 'as trying to protect him% Brom this reali<ation
'e 'ere able to go on and loo" at ho' he might protect himself
from actal or imagined criticism in other 'ays! and from there to loo" at
other conJdence8enhancing techni:es% I 'as delighted to be in&ited to his
comebac" performance! at 'hich he played brilliantly and 'ithot ner&osness%
*y a stro"e of irony or synchronicity! his father e(pressed appro&al for
his playing ,the Jrst sch appro&al he had e&er ttered0 Ist at the point that
Tom had rid himself of the need for it%
#E&ery beha&ior is appropriate in some conte(t) and no
beha&ior is appropriate in e&ery conte(t$
This is another prespposition that can case a degree of otrage ntil it is
e(plained flly) #3rely there are some things yo shold ne&er do or sayP
srely there are some things yo shold al'ays doK$ say the otraged% #3rely
yo shold ne&er be impolite! act aggressi&ely! be selJshK 3rely yo shold
al'ays thin" of othersK$
Dhat this prespposition is really saying is that 'e shold allo' orsel&es
to be more 2e(ible in or beha&ior! ta"ing the ce for appropriateness from
the conte(t for the beha&ior rather than from mere habit) Ist becase something
'or"ed for s once pon a time! for e(ample! does not mean it 'ill 'or"
for s for e&er or in e&ery circmstance% There may be a conte(t in 'hich it is
appropriate to be angry ? for e(ample! if someone has been bllying s% There
may be conte(ts 'hen being apparently selJsh might be absoltely right ? for
e(ample! in insisting on not being distrbed if yo are trying to complete an
important tas"% 3imilarly there are some beha&iors someone might thin" are
#al'ays$ appropriate 'hich are not) 'hat is the point in being polite and patient
if 'e are recei&ing &ery poor or rde cstomer ser&ice! for e(ampleK
The heart of the prespposition is the impets it gi&es s to e(amine ?
and help or clients to e(amine ? the beha&iors and attitdes they Ist ta"e
for granted! 'ith a &ie' to increasing options and 2e(ibility%
#There is no sch thing as failre! only feedbac"$
Dhen things do not 'or" ot :ite as 'e intend 'e often interpret the reslt
'e get as failre% 3ometimes the eMect of the perception of reslts as failre is
disheartening! or disappointing! leading s to ne&er ta"e the ris" again or
e&en to feel permanently bad abot orsel&es% This prespposition reminds s
that #failre$ as a concept does not ser&e mch prpose in most realms of
beha&ior! and that it is far more sefl to see a sitation that does not 'or"
ot as a demonstration of e(actly ho' not to do something in the ftre)
Edison famosly spo"e of disco&ering a thosand sre8Jre 'ays of not ma"ing
a light blb 'or" before Jnding the right 'ay%
*y encoraging clients to &ie' their e(periences in this 'ay! #failre$ can
be rotinely seen as opportnity to learn and to plan a diMerent 'ay of
approaching something%
The presppositions alongside the principles of coaching
It is sefl to compare these presppositions 'ith the si( principles of
coaching described by 1enny Rogers ,-..E0 in her boo" Coaching 3"ills) A
Handboo"% These are as follo's)
>% The client is a resorcefl person%
-% The coach$s role is to spring loose the resorceflness of the client%
F% The coach and the client 'or" as e:als%
E% The client sets the agenda%
G% The client is a 'hole person! 'or" and home! past and present%
/% Coaching is abot change%
These principles are &ery simple in essence bt do in fact captre absoltely
the core of ho' a coach shold approach the tas" ? al'ays assming the client
has the ans'er or resorce 'ithin themsel&es! al'ays assming that they! not
the coach! decide 'hat they needO'ant to 'or" on! and that as #'hole people$
the changes they 'ant to ma"e need to be 'or"ed throgh holistically% The
NLP presppositions are 'holly consistent 'ith these principles and add a
degree of depth and radicalism that can help clients to thin" in 'hole ne'
'ays abot themsel&es! their isses and abot their potential for positi&e
F Creating rapport in coaching
Coaching is a relationship that depends on a sense of committed and trsting
partnership% Lea&ing aside the importance of treating clients 'ith respect and
cortesy! it is important to remember that clients fre:ently ma"e themsel&es
&lnerable by bringing to the coaching room isses 'here they do not crrently
feel at their most conJdent! empo'ered or resorcefl) the coach
needs to respond to this potential &lnerability 'ith care! respect and sensiti&ity%
The coach also faces the challenge of needing to create positi&e partnerships
'ith a 'ide range of personalities and beha&iors! adapting their
o'n approach to sit the indi&idal$s personal style as far as possible% The Jrst
steps in any coaching partnership shold be the creation of rapport bet'een
coach and client% Clients loo" for this factor! along 'ith personal credibility!
more than any other attribte! :ality or s"ill in their coaches! and 'ith good
The isse of rapport in coaching is rele&ant at many le&els) the isses that
clients bring to the coaching room are often to do 'ith relationships and
personal eMecti&eness! and coaching sing NLP can allo' a client to learn an
enormos amont abot ho' to create rapport and bild more positi&e
A lot of the early eMort and research into NLP 'as on the sbIect of
rapport) and NLP has bilt mch of its reptation on its 'or" in this area%
Early research into the eMecti&eness of &arying styles of psychotherapy
broght abot the reali<ation that the critical sccess factor! regardless of the
style of psychotherapy sed! 'as the le&el of rapport bet'een therapist and
client% This led to mch in&estigation into the natre of rapport and then to
loo"ing at ho' rapport s"ills cold be modelled and taght%
This chapter loo"s at the follo'ing)
C The natre of rapport ? 'hat is it and ho' do yo "no' yo ha&e got
C Ho' do yo as a coach go abot creating rapport 'ith yor clientsK
C Ho' do yo help yor client to create rapport in their relationshipsK
Dhat is rapportK
A common8sense &ie' of rapport is that it is simply abot li"ing someone or
someone else li"ing yo% Ho'e&er! there is more to it than this) as a coach it is
not necessary acti&ely to li"e yor clients in the con&entional sense! nor they
yo! bt it is necessary to ha&e a positi&e 'or"ing relationship% 3ome people
seem to rb along for many years 'ithot seemingly to acti&ely li"e each
other in the sense of sharing a fondness% There 'as a pb I sed to go to in
London 'here! for o&er ten years to my "no'ledge! bt for many more
according to fol"lore! t'o old men sed to sit in the same seats e&ery night
and arge &ehemently abot e&erything and anything% To the casal obser&er
their relationship 'as hostile! bt the fact 'as they 'ere &irtally inseparable%
In sporting contests opponents can hammer a'ay at each other for hors and
e&en days and yet at the end of a contest hg each other and drin" beer
together as mates% 3ome marital relationships seem to be based primarily on
acti&e disagreement bt sr&i&e #happily$ for decades%
One &ie' of rapport ta"en from NLP is that it is based on the principle of
three #Rs$)
C respect
C recognition
C reassrance%
It is essential to create a climate of respect in the coaching room% 3ome clients
feel a sense of embarrassment or e&en failre as they tal" abot their isses!
and need the coach to con&ey respect for them in order that they can feel safe
and spported% Bre:ently clients as" if their isses are #typical$ isses! the
nderlying fear being that there may be something amiss abot them as
clients for them to be bringing the isses they ha&e% Respect is an essential
part of the coaching climate! and 'ithot it! it is impossible to coach% Dhere
the coach geninely cannot respect the client! for e(ample if the client persistently
&oices strong racist &ie's! they shold end the relationship% Ha&ing
said this! the coach can still con&ey respect for the &ast maIority of the &ie's
and opinions of the client! e&en if they as coach do not happen to agree 'ith
them) at the deeper le&els of &ales there 'ill almost al'ays be some alignment
in any case% The coach can al'ays con&ey respect for their client as a
fello' hman being%
Recognition can be sho'n in a nmber of 'ays% The simplest and most
fndamental 'ay is for the coach to #tne in$ ,or calibrate! to se the NLP
Iargon0 at the physical le&el! altering yor body langage to be more li"e that
of the clients% Other coaching s"ills that can help to con&ey this sense of
recognition for the client inclde smmari<ing and ac"no'ledging%
The smmary! a staple tool in many forms of one8to8one 'or"! is a &ery
simple bt eMecti&e 'ay of sho'ing yo are present and attenti&e and that
yo ha&e heard both the content and the meaning of 'hat yor client is
telling yo% =o can smmari<e the content of 'hat a client is saying and also
the feeling they are e(pressing% This can also present the opportnity to
re2ect bac" the langage the client is sing! particlarly their speciJc se of
sensory8based 'ords and any "ey metaphors sed%
Ac"no'ledgement is the act of pointing ot to the client a signiJcant
resorce yo ha&e noticed either in their beha&ior in the present! or in an
accont of their actions otside the coaching room% It can be as simple as
saying something li"e! #=o 'ere &ery bra&e 'hen yo confronted yor boss$
or #I 'old Ist li"e to say yo are sho'ing real tenacity in trying ot this
diMerent 'ay of approaching things$% Dhen yo ac"no'ledge a strength or
:ality in the client! yo are con&eying respect for part of their #being$ or
higher self%
*y reassring yor client that it is OL to be themsel&es! and that it is OL for
them to ha&e their isse and not crrently "no' ho' to ma"e progress on it!
yo 'ill be laying the fondations for progress% =o can frther reassre yor
clients by follo'ing the fondation principles of coaching! and the presppositions
of NLP! by letting them "no' yo belie&e them to be resorcefl
people% It is important to 'or" continosly on yor o'n speech patterns in
order to ensre that the presppositions they contain are aNrming for the
client% There is a 'orld of diMerence in saying something li"e #3o! let$s contine
to nco&er the strengths yo 'ill be sing to contine yor progress$ ? a
sentence sggesting an otcome focs and se&eral positi&e presppositions! as
compared 'ith something li"e #Dell! let$s get started on trying to Jnd the Jrst
steps to sol&ing yor problem$ ? a sentence that is problem8focsed and fll of
negati&e presppositions%
=o can reassre po'erflly by yor o'n #being$ self! too) by listening
attenti&ely and by reacting calmly and conJdently to 'hat they tell yo! yo
can sho' yo are 'illing and able to help them ma"e progress and that yo
belie&e them implicitly to ha&e 'hat it ta"es to do so%
Rapport is an acti&ity
There is no non that can con&ey the acti&e natre of rapport% Rapport is
similar to #relationship$ ? people someho' thin" of their relationship as a
#thing$ they #possess$ or #ha&e$ rather than as a constant 2( of ongoing
beha&iors% In actal fact there is no sch #thing$ as a relationship! merely the
se:ence of acti&e beha&iors that go on bet'een people% The degree to
'hich a #relationship$ can be described as a static entity is probably a fnction
of its habits ? those beha&iors that are repeated reglarly enogh for distinct
patterns to be established ? the habits of relating% The habits lead to the
creation of o&erall perceptions! beliefs and Idgements abot the relating
process ? in short! 'hat it means and ho' it is &aled%
The smallest of beha&iors in other people! e&en nconscios ones! can
ha&e deep impact on or beliefs and &ales! and as coaches 'e need to ha&e
the ma(imm possible a'areness of or o'n beha&iors! e&en the apparently
tri&ial ones! and their potential eMect on or clients% Bor e(ample! I 'as once
coached by someone 'ho 'old loo" at the cloc" on the table in front of him
e&ery fe' mintes! and 'ho sometimes mo&ed his eyes Ist a little bit from
side to side as I 'as spea"ing% I began to de&elop a feeling that he 'as
impatient to end the sessions! and that he 'as ninterested in listening to
'hat I had to say% I 'as distracted and e&en oMended by this beha&ior% Dhen
I raised it 'ith him he 'as shoc"ed) he assred me that his cloc"8'atching
'as intended to ma"e sre he cold strctre the session properly! and the
eye mo&ements 'ere to do 'ith him thin"ing abot ho' his ne(t :estion
shold be formlated% *oth beha&iors 'ere! from his point of &ie'! directed
at my 'ellbeing! bt the actal eMect on me 'as negati&e% I also remember a
client of mine 'ho! ot of the ble! said to me in an angry &oice! #Can yo
please stop sing the 'ord ##actally$$ all the timeK$ It appeared that he
interpreted my se of the 'ord as patroni<ing! 'hereas I! far from intending
to patroni<e! had not e&en been a'are that I 'as sing the 'ord at all!
Rapport is not necessarily #natral$
Another #common8sense$ assmption is that rapport someho' occrs #natrally$
or not at all% It is tre that most of s Jnd it easier to create rapport 'ith
some people than others) bt NLP holds that rapport! as a se:ence of acti&e
beha&iors! can be modelled and learned! and that it is theoretically possible
to learn ho' to create rapport 'ith &irtally anybody%
Dhen participants on or coaching corses pt for'ard the &ie' that
rapport is! and shold be! a #natral$ phenomenon! 'e sometimes as" them
ho' they "no' they ha&e rapport 'ith someone% 7ost people respond to this
'ith a statement abot feeling% *t 'hen as"ed 'hat creates the feeling! the
response is almost in&ariably abot 'hat they see and hear from the other
person and 'hat goes on bet'een them% 6ltimately the degree of rapport is a
conse:ence of se:ences of obser&able beha&iors and or response to them
at the le&el of meaning ? &ales and beliefs%
Ho'e&er! 'e do not al'ays consciosly obser&e the rele&ant beha&iors ?
'e tend to process them primarily at an nconscios le&el% It follo's that if
yo can learn to obser&e and pay conscios attention to beha&iors in others
and in yorself! yo can begin to learn the beha&iors that lead to the creation
of rapport% As for the #natralness$ of or social beha&iors! 'hat feels natral is
generally 'hat is in fact Ist habital% There 'as a time in or early li&es 'hen
'e 'ere all taght the basic rles of cortesy ,or p$s and :$s! for e(ample0! and
these beha&iors only began to feel natral after a lot of reminders and practice%
De are not natrally gifted 'ith "no'ledge of basic table manners ? 'e
ha&e to learn them% The 'hole Jeld of management de&elopment is Jlled 'ith
beha&ioral s"ills that for many managers need to be learned bt 'hich are
ta"en for granted as being re:ired) for e(ample! gi&ing feedbac"! ma"ing
positi&e presentations or learning to ans'er :estions eMecti&ely in pblic%
Ths it is 'ith rapport s"ills) 'e pic" p some from obser&ation and habit bt
becase rapport is not something to 'hich many of s pay conscios attention!
'e do not al'ays "no' 'hat else there is to learn% 3o! in order to learn
and ac:ire a 'ider range of s"ills! 'e Jrst need to nderstand 'hat 'e don$t
yet "no' abot the speciJc beha&iors that create rapport%
7atching is 'hat is meant by #tning in$ ,to se an aral metaphor0 or calibrating
to an aspect of someone else$s body langage! or se of &oice! and
adIsting yor o'n to be more li"e the other person% This is 'hat often
happens in social sitations) 'hen 'e 'al" into a party it feels #natral$ to
gra&itate to the people 'e Idge to be someho' compatible 'ith s ? and
often this compatibility is assessed by nconscios recognition of similarity of
body langage% De ha&e to ma"e decisions :ite :ic"ly in all 'al"s of life
abot 'hether 'e 'ant or need to be 'ith one sort of person rather than
another) at times this ability to ma"e :ic" #instinctal$ decisions abot other
people can be important for or &ery sr&i&al% It is in this literal sense that
rapport is indeed abot #li"ing$ someone else ? 'e tend to #li"e$ those people
'ho in some sense sho' they are #li"e$ s% Of corse! other people are
responding to s in Ist the same #instincti&e$ 'ay! and learning to #match$
can help to ensre yo are accepted by far more people and in a mch 'ider
range of sitations than yo might hitherto ha&e reali<ed%
7any of or coaching stdents are able to ta"e in this concept at an
intellectal le&el easily! and indeed it is not ni:e to NLP% 3ometimes they
'onder 'hat the #big deal$ is% Dhat 'e often Jnd! thogh! is that for them to
become adept at a practical le&el they really need to 'or" at it ? to ma"e their
responses 'or" in a 'ay that loo"s and feels athentic% Athenticity is the "ey
here ? once the s"ills ha&e been learned! practised and flly integrated! they feel
as #natral$ as saying please and than" yo% The tric" is to de&elop speed and
accracy of response! and this only happens 'ith a lot of conscios practice and
a lot of feedbac"% There is no sbstitte for de&eloping these s"ills if yo 'ant to
de&elop rapport 'ith yor clients! or anyone else for that matter) this is an area
'here #cln"iness$ of techni:e is &ery li"ely to hamper the coaching relationship%
,An e(ample) I recently assessed a stdent on a coaching corse 'ho
began his meeting 'ith a brand8ne' client 'ith the 'ords! #Right! let$s start oM
'ith a bit of rapport then % % %$ ? the response 'as not e(actly lo&e at Jrst sight%0
Dhen I meet a client! my Jrst coaching action is to pay real #in8themoment$
attention to them% Ho' do they loo" and sondK Dhat is their
energy le&el li"eK Dhat ,if I ha&e 'or"ed 'ith them before0 is diMerent abot
them from last timeK This has to be a &ery :ic" process in order that I can
adIst my o'n beha&ior to theirs :ic"ly enogh to create a natral feeling
of rapport at the basic physical le&el%
In deciding 'hat to #tne in$ to and match! there is a 'ide range of
choice% In body langage terms alone there are the follo'ing)
C postre
C gestre
C facial e(pression
C le&el of mscle tension
C breathing ? rate and depth
C eye contact ? type of and amont of it
C speed of mo&ement
C rhythm
C energy le&els%
7y o'n approach is to focs instantly on the basic energy and rhythm of the
other person and respond :ic"ly to that! closely follo'ed by postre and
facial e(pression% Dith this fondation in place it is possible to calibrate to
the other dimensions of their physical presentation at more leisre%
Then there is &oice% =o may choose to pay conscios attention to one or
more of the follo'ing ,althogh yo can be sre yor nconscios mind 'ill
be paying attention to the rest0)
C tone
C &olme
C pitch
C accent
C speed
C rhythm%
*ecase so mch of coaching is abot tal"ing! it is particlarly important to
pay close attention to ho' yor speech matches p to that of yor clients%
This is e&en beyond any consideration of the content of 'hat they are saying%
The abo&e are really Ist shortlists ? there are many mintiae%
Interpreting body langage
I Jnd it sefl to direct or coaching stdents a'ay from the idea that particlar
body langage #means$ something speciJc% It is not necessarily the case!
for e(ample! that folded arms indicate defensi&eness ? a poplar assmption%
I fold my arms a lot! e&en 'hile 'atching T5 or sitting in the bath! becase I
Jnd this postre helps me rela( ,I admit this is a 'eird habit0% =o may ha&e
seen the tele&ision ad&ert in 'hich the lone tra&eller! enIoying his meal in a
3oth American shanty cantina! inad&ertently oMends the chef by ma"ing the
#O$ sign 'ith Jnger and thmb ? a gestre generally associated in the Dest
'ith 'arm appro&al! bt a hge inslt in that particlar cltre% 3imilarly! it
is not necessarily the case that all people enIoy lots of nblin"ing! direct eye
contact ? another poplar generali<ation% It is important to be a'are of the
cltral habits of societies other than or o'n) most research on body langage
? the research that prodces the maIority of the poplar beliefs abot
meaning and body langage ? has been condcted in the Destern cltres of
Erope! the 6nited 3tates and Astralia%
Of corse! some people are practised and accomplished at this matching
s"ill 'ithot the beneJt of NLP or coaching s"ills training% I ha&e a friend
'ho spent three years tra&elling the remotest corners of the 'orld by bicycle
and 'ho ne&er 'ent 'ithot food or shelter! no matter 'here he fond
himself% Regardless of race! langage! religion or cltre! he 'as able to adapt
his beha&iors to those people he met in order Jrst to a&ert any potential
hostility! and then to enlist their positi&e spport in matters of practical
assistance% 3ch 'as his ability in this area that 'hen 'e trained on an NLP
practitioner corse together! he 'as pt to the tas" of helping me ,I 'as not a
natral at rapport8bilding0 learn the same "inds of :ic" s"ills% On one
occasion 'e 'ere despatched to the Dest End of London for a rapportbilding
#test$% De too" it in trns to point to anyone 'e chose and or
partner had to go p and create rapport 'ith the chosen person or persons ?
'e too" pains to choose people as #nli"e$ orsel&es as possible% Dhat 'as
e(traordinary 'as that in e&ery case! regardless of race! age or o&erall
diMerences in appearance! 'e 'ere both able to create a po'erfl rapport
sing the matching techni:e e&ery time% I learned once and for all that it is
:ite possible to go any'here in the 'orld and meet p 'ith anyone and
ha&e 'ithin my control the potential to open p a positi&e relationship% I
fond this a thrilling reali<ation! and am absoltely con&inced it has been
one of the fondation pieces in my career progress to date% Bor e(ample! it has
'ithot dobt helped me to scceed in inter&ie's! presentations! sales
pitches and! of corse! coaching%
Bor an idea of ho' my friend operates 'ith people from diMerent cltres
yo might loo" at some of 7ichael Palin$s tra&el Jlms for a comparison% Li"e
my friend! Palin seems able to ma"e a positi&e impact 'here&er he goes% Tre!
this is sometimes Ist abot being smiley and nthreatening ,and no dobt to
some e(tent the Jlm cre's pa&e the 'ay in ad&ance0! bt clearly it goes
beyond that to con&eying genineness and trst'orthiness ? something of
the three Rs in fact%
7atching needs to happen at more than one le&el) alongside techni:e
comes the need for the right mental attitde and &ales system% Rapport is
only a precrsor of trst and conJdence in a relationship! thogh a highly
important one% As a coach there is no point in being technically s"illed as a
creator of rapport if yor intention is not to con&ey acceptance and respect for
yor client% This in itself may need to be learned consciosly to begin 'ith ?
'e do not al'ays thin" in this saintly 'ay abot each other in or bsy
bsiness li&es! often almost atomatically re&erting to snap negati&e Idgements
on anybody 'ho does not seem sperJcially to resemble s%
I ha&e a trigger thoght 'hich I se before seeing each client! 'hich is to
imagine my #highest self$ abot to greet someone else$s #highest self$% This
seems to s'itch me on to being at my most open! recepti&e and respectfl! no
matter ho' fed p! tired or irritated by the frstrations of life I might be Ist
before the coaching session% This is Ist one of the 'ays in 'hich coaching
others does me some good%
Congrence and rapport
The ideal state for coaching can best be described as congrent) feeling in
alignment 'ith oneself at all le&els and e(tending that congrent alignment
to one$s &ie' of the client% I Jnd this congrence can be achie&ed in all sorts
of 'ays! sometimes by my #trigger$ thoghts! sometimes by ma"ing sre I feel
physically congrent by breathing deeply and centering the 'eight and balance
of my body ? after all! the mind and body is an interacti&e system and
'hat happens in one part of the system aMects the other parts too% Physical
beha&iors can aMect beliefs and &ales Ist as mch as beliefs can create
beha&iors% =o can sometimes thin" yorself into ne' beha&iors! bt yo
can also beha&e yor 'ay into ne' thin"ing! and this is often a more direct!
easier! process% 3ppose! for e(ample! that at some ftre point yo Jnd
yorself in need of creating a little more conJdence for yorself% There are
nmeros options open to yo in the conJdence8boosting line! deri&ed both
from NLP and from other sorces% Ho'e&er! yo can simply begin to act more
conJdently% Here is a simple e(ercise) imagine another &ersion of yorself a
fe' feet a'ay loo"ing fantastically conJdent in yor physical being! and
simply step into that &ersion of yo% Notice the positi&e diMerence ? see the
'orld from the eyes! hear the 'orld from the ears! and Ist feel the physical
conJdence of this #other$ yo% =o 'ill :ic"ly notice ho' yor thoghts
change into a more positi&e! conJdent &ein% If yo 'ant to! yo cold then
step into an e&en more conJdent &ersion of yo%
7atching the physical beha&ior of yor client to some degree ma"es it
easier for them not to set p some "ind of nconscios resistance to yo as a
coach! particlarly in the earliest stages of a relationship% This is particlarly
important at this sensiti&e early stage 'hen the client may be feeling an(ios
abot the sitation% Birst impressions are notoriosly lasting and po'erfl ?
anyone 'ho has done any inter&ie'ing! for e(ample! "no's that it is hard
not to ma"e some "ind of Idgement abot the inter&ie'ee in the &ery early
seconds of the inter&ie'% And if this Jrst impression is a negati&e one in any
'ay! it is diNclt for the inter&ie'ee to go on and correct it in the sbse:ent
Jfty8nine mintes%
I remember 'atching a bo(ing match on tele&ision once in 'hich #or
boy$ 'as "noc"ed ot in the Jrst rond% His manager e(plained to the
commentator that the defeated bo(er #'as mch better in long Jghts$% This is
a close analogy to the need to create rapport early in relationships ? yo
might not get to "no' 'hat a long8term relationship is li"e if yo "eep
getting reIected at Jrst sight%
7atchingOmismatching e(ercise
If yo 'old li"e to e(perience the po'er of physical matching! and the
conse:ences of mismatching! try the follo'ing e(ercise 'ith a 'illing friend
or colleage)
C 3it in t'o chairs in the coaching position ,i%e% not :ite face to face
bt angled slightly a'ay from each other to a&oid any sggestion of
C 7atch the body langage of yor partner as closely as possible 'hile
a&oiding anything li"ely to indce hmor or oMence! li"e
mimic"ing a ner&os t'itch%
C As" yor friendOcolleage to tal" to yo for abot a minte on a
sbIect for 'hich they ha&e enthsiasm and 'hich is to at least some
e(tent important to them! e%g% a relationship! an interestOhobby! or
perhaps something they are loo"ing for'ard to% E(plain that yo are
not going to respond to them &erbally in the normal 'ay bt are
going to match their physical beha&ior only% As" them to "eep
going for the fll minte ,timed by yo0! no matter 'hat they see
yo doing%
C E(plain before they begin that yo 'ill be deliberately mismatching
them for a fe' seconds at roghly half 'ay throgh the minte! bt
'ill retrn to matching their beha&ior :ic"ly%
C As" them to begin tal"ing! and match their physical presentation as
closely as possible%
C After abot half a minte! deliberately mismatch their beha&ior%
7a"e the mismatch a small one! something li"e loo"ing at the cloc"
for a fe' seconds! chec"ing yor 'atch! noticing yo ha&e a shoelace
ndone! glancing ot of the 'indo' for a fe' seconds or Ist shifting
yor postre%
C After a fe' seconds of mismatching! go bac" into fll matching mode
ntil the minte is o&er! and 'hen it seems OL to interrpt! as" yor
friend or colleage to Jnish 'hat they are saying%
=o can be prepared for a fairly strong! thogh almost certainly at least partly
amsed! response from yor colleage% As" them)
C ho' they felt abot yo and the relationship bet'een yo 'hen yo
'ere matching their beha&ior
C ho' they felt 'hen yo mismatched them
C 'hat happened to their le&els of concentration and focs 'hen yo
C ho' they responded to yor beha&ior at a &ales le&el
C 'hat it 'as li"e for them 'hen yo retrned to matching%
I ha&e rn this e(ercise in grops for many years and the reactions to the
matchOmismatchOmatch se:ence are ama<ingly consistent% The persons
doing the tal"ing consistently report some or all of the follo'ing responses)
C an initial positi&e feeling abot the relationship ? based on a perception
that they 'ere being &ery closely listened to
C shoc"ed or 'rong8footed by the mismatch to the degree that many
people feel they cannot contine
C complete or at least considerable loss of concentration and focs ? a
#losing of the place$
C a perception of being strongly inslted
C often a loss of conJdence in the relationship as they thoght it had
1st to conJrm the po'er of this e(ercise! get yor friendOcolleage to do the
same for yo% E&en thogh yo absoltely "no' the mismatch is coming yo
'ill almost certainly be thro'n by it%
Among other things! this e(ercise cases many people to re2ect pon
ho' little they generally attempt to create rapport in their daily li&es! and
indeed ho' fe' people ma"e the attempt to create rapport 'ith them% Bor
coaches this is an absolte mst) if yo need frther moti&ation to master
some rapport s"ills it might help yo to "no' that people thin" better 'hen
they are feeling 'ell listened to ? so as a coach! creating rapport is in itself
going to help yor client ma"e progress on their isses%
7atching is not mimicry
3ometimes stdents on or corses e(press concerns that matching amonts
to mimicry ? an e(pression of disrespect% They are right to ha&e this concern!
becase nothing shold be frther from the intentions of the coach% It is
critically important to get this right in yor mind% One e(ample might be
ho' yo feel abot &oice8matching on the telephone) some of or coaching
stdents ha&e mentioned this as an area that often seems to happen #natrally$!
bt 'here they are not really sre themsel&es 'hether they are
matching or mimic"ing% They notice! perhaps! that their &oice changes a little
to ta"e on aspects of a distincti&e accent! or changes pace to mo&e closer to
the speed of the &oice at the other end of the line! and 'onder if they
themsel&es are beha&ing inathentically%
I Jrmly belie&e the "ey isse here is the :ality of yor intention% If yo
intend to con&ey respect by matching ,'hich is an indication of yor 'illingness
to mo&e to'ards someone else$s model of the 'orld0! then the client!
or other person! 'ill pic" p! e&en if nconsciosly! yor intention to respect
them% If yor intention is to maniplate or decei&e then at an nconscios
le&el at least yor client or other person 'ill pic" this p too%
7atching and empathy
Another beneJt of the deliberate matching process is the degree to 'hich it
helps the coach gain empathy 'ith the client% *y matching! I Jnd I can
determine a great deal abot ho' the client is feeling! particlarly 'ith regard
to energy and mood% I ha&e sometimes been able to detect 'hen the client is
not feeling completely 'ell ? perhaps sMering bac"8pain or headache% =o
might try this for yorself% Dhen meeting someone! match their beha&ior as
closely as possible and as" yorself 'hat they are feeling li"e) if the relationship
allo's it! yo might chec" ot yor perceptions 'ith them to see ho'
accrate they are% On one NLP corse I attended 'e 'ere as"ed to 'al"
behind someone for se&eral mintes 'hile matching their beha&ior as
closely as possible! and it 'as a &ery po'erfl e(perience to ha&e the sensation
of #being$ someone else for a short 'hile ? the perceptions 'e 'ere able
to gather abot ho' the other person 'as feeling and e&en thin"ing 'ere
sometimes ncanny% =o cold try sitting behind a colleage or friend and
matching them ? notice ho' mch yo learn abot 'hat it is li"e to be #in
their shoes$ for a 'hile%
At the &ery least! by doing this matching yo 'ill be ptting yor
attention on the client rather than on yorself ? and this alone helps to create
the conditions of rapport%
7atching! pacing and leading
Another beneJt of habitally matching yor clients physically is that it allo's
yo to tne in to their mood and energy! as noted abo&e% This is a good thing
in itself! bt 'hat if yo then percei&e the client to be in some "ind of
negati&e state nli"ely to be condci&e to good coachingK Clients fre:ently
present themsel&es in sch states ? perhaps tired! lo' in energy! an(ios or
mildly depressed% Or common8sense approach tells s that 'hat 'e need to
oMer as a remedy is the opposite state! bt this can actally ma"e things 'orse%
As a fre:ently grmpy person myself! I "no' fll 'ell ho' irritating it can be
to be #cheered p$! for e(ample% The last thing I need 'hen 'allo'ing arond
in my dar" thoghts is to be told per"ily 'hat a lo&ely day it is or be in&ited to
cont my blessings ? these things tend to ma"e me feel more committed to
the mood I 'as already in% I ha&e noticed too that my attempts to #cheer p$
colleages 'ith Io"es or 'itticisms ha&e more than once reslted in an
abrptly closed door% 3imilarly! if a client is &ery lo' in energy or tired! the
last thing they really need is for #the dynamic coach$ to spring into the room
e(horting the beneJts of good body postre and deep breathing allied to a
positi&e mental attitde%
Ho'e&er! neither is it desirable for the coach to do nothing to shift the
negati&e state of the client% Indeed if the coach does nothing! it is possible or
e&en li"ely that they themsel&es 'ill get caght p in the negati&ity and get
dragged do'n by the client% In this state they can be of little se to the client
and are in eMect collding 'ith a non8resorcefl state of mind% The NLP
approach in&ol&es starting oM 'here the client is! i%e% matching as described
abo&e% The ne(t step is to go along 'ith the client as they are being! for a
short period% This is "no'n as pacing! i%e% maintaining rapport o&er time%
The ne(t step is leading% This is the step that needs most Idgement and
s"ill on the part of the coach% The idea is to mo&e yor o'n energy le&el or
mood to a more resorcefl state! and by so doing send a ,primarily nconscios0
message to yor client that they too 'ill need to mo&e if they are to
remain in rapport 'ith yo% If this is timed 'ell! yo 'ill see the client shift
postre and energy in a &ariety of diMerent 'ays in response to the lead yo
are gi&ing them%
I ha&e fond that diMerent moods re:ire diMerent lengths of time spent
on the pacing of rapport% In lo'8energy! do'nbeat clients I generally Jnd it
sefl to stay 'ith them for se&eral mintes before shifting my postre and
lifting my energy to something more #pbeat$% Dith a client 'ho is agitated!
or e&en angry! I Jnd I ha&e to mo&e throgh the gears more :ic"ly% Dith
anger I tend to match the energy! stance and &olme of the client for Ist a
fe' seconds ? perhaps J&e seconds is all it needs ? before softening and
moderating my being to oMer a model of something calmer and more
3ome people may ha&e concerns that this beha&ior is! or cold be!
maniplati&e% Again! I 'old assert that the root isse is the intention behind
the act) the techni:e itself has no ethical crrency! either positi&e or negati&e%
Bor decades there ha&e been boo"s pblished and seminars rn on
sbIects sch as asserti&eness! #'inning friends and in2encing people$! getting
ahead in bsiness and so forth ? the 'ish to manage relationships
eMecti&ely has been present for a long time before NLP% At heart I belie&e
people "no' if they are being maniplated and if the person they are engaged
'ith is athentic or not% Ho'e&er! I also belie&e that it is important to operate
as a coach 'ithin an e(plicit as 'ell as implicit cltre of ethical practice)
1enny Rogers lays ot a sefl ethical code in her boo" Coaching 3"ills 'hich
ser&es e(tremely 'ell as a gide in this area%
7any people Jnd the matching?pacing?leading approach to meeting
anger conter8intiti&e! and instincti&ely belie&e that anger shold be met
'ith pacifying and calming beha&ior from the otset% I personally Jnd it far
more eMecti&e to se the matching?pacing?leading se:ence! althogh I
grant it does ta"e a little bit of practice to get the timing right! and can e&en
ta"e a little bit of ner&e at Jrst% To de&elop yor conJdence! I 'old
recommend the follo'ing)
C Practise 'ith a friend or colleage ? get them to role8play the
beha&ior yo 'ant to match! pace and lead! and get them to gi&e
yo feedbac" on ho' eMecti&e yor beha&ior is being%
C In dealing 'ith anger! conJne yorself to matching the energy le&el
of the other person ? some people Jnd it tempting at Jrst to #o&er8
match$! i%e% try to otdo the le&el of anger% *ild conJdence in
immediately matching the anger le&el for those fe' &ital seconds
before leading yor client do'n to a calmer state% The content of
'hat is being said is far less important than matching the energy! so
there is no need to 'orry abot getting the 'ords precisely right%
C Ta"e no ris"sQ I 'old not recommend trying to match anyone 'ho
is physically threatening! distrbed! or ot of control ? conJne this
techni:e to beha&iors 'ithin a sensible range%
Remember! too! that anger to'ards yo as a coach is e(tremely rare! and that
it can be cathartic for a client to display anger at times) as 'ith most things in
coaching! yo ha&e to ma"e yor o'n Idgement%
7atching! pacing and leading in practice
I once coached a manager in the hospitality indstry 'hose isse 'as the
diNclty he had in managing someone he described as an #archetypal temperamental
chef$% This manager had 'anted to discss some changes he
'anted the chef to ma"e and the chef had interpreted the attempted discssion
as criticism% The chef$s response 'as to go silent ? to literally refse to
spea") apparently he ,the chef0 'old sit 'ith his legs spread ot Ist staring
at the ceiling% 7y client described ho' he had tried #e&erything$ to get the
chef to tal" ? chie2y! as it transpired! threats! praise and promises% Dhat
became clear as he described these attempts 'as that he 'as operating at a
&ery diMerent le&el physically from the chef) he 'as in fact hgely ot of
rapport in terms of postre! energy! pace! facial e(pression! se of &oice ? the
'or"s% Thogh sceptical! my client agreed he 'old try to match the silent
beha&ior of the chef shold it arise again% Indeed it did arise! and the t'o of
them sat in silence for a &ery long8seeming ,to my client0 ten minte%
E&entally my client cold bear the tension no more and made a &ery small
mo&ement in preparation to spea" bt at that moment the chef trned his
head! loo"ed him in the eye and said #OL! let$s tal"$ ? or similar 'ords% They
'ent on to ha&e the discssion the manager had 'anted in the Jrst place%
A more dramatic inter&ention 'as the instance of the mild8mannered
senior manager of a Jnance hose% Terry 'as part of a senior trim&irate of
e:al stats 'ho managed the company nder the chief e(ecti&e% The
problem 'as that Terry 'as being bllied by the other t'o &ery aggressi&e!
highly competiti&e men% I had in fact met them and can conJrm the trth of
Terry$s description of their beha&ior% Terry$s approach hitherto had been one
of appeasement! bt the more appeasing his beha&ior 'as! the more
aggressi&e the other t'o managers became% I as"ed Terry to role8play a recent
occasion 'hen he felt he had been bllied% He described to me an instance
earlier in the 'ee" 'hen one of the other managers had brst into his oNce%
Terry described to me the beha&ior of the other manager in detail and I too"
on his role% In character! I simlated brsting into Terry$s oNce! banging my
Jst on his des" and demanding to "no' #Dhat the % % % % % had gone 'rong 'ith
the % % % % % IT systemQ$ Terry$s response! e&en in the role8play! 'as astonishing ?
he &irtally crled p in his chair and started 'hining and apologi<ing% His
beha&ior seemed actally to 'ind me p in the role I 'as playing ? e&ery
e(cse and 'hine seemed to ma"e me more angry and aggressi&e%
I ga&e Terry feedbac" on ho' his beha&ior 'as aMecting me and 'e
discssed the idea of his matching! pacing and leading some of the aggression
of his colleages% Terry agreed to replay the role play 'ith me as preparation% I
repeated my des"8thmping and s'earing bt before I had got as far as a
second sentence! Terry Imped to his feet! banged his Jst on the table and
as"ed in a &oice that mirrored mine in terms of &olme and energy) #Dhat the
% % % % do yo thin" yo are doing brsting into my oNce li"e thatK$ The eMect
on me 'as electric ? e&en in role I felt stopped in my trac"s! Jnding myself
stmbling for apologetic and self8Istifying phrases% Terry :ite :ic"ly
lo'ered the &olme and energy of his &oice! and &ery soon 'e 'ere tal"ing at
more or less the same le&el% After a little more coaching and practice Terry
agreed he 'old try this beha&ior ot on his t'o colleages% It 'or"ed! and
'hat cold ha&e been a doomed set of relationships sr&i&ed and impro&ed%
Interestingly! Terry reported bac" to me in a sbse:ent session that both of
his colleages had been 'orried abot their o'n beha&iors and the relationship
'ith Terry% All three men felt relief 'hen Terry stood p for himself)
there 'as a sense of rebalancing in the relationship%
7atching metaphors and langage patterns
Another highly eMecti&e 'ay of creating rapport is to pay close attention to
the speciJc 'ords! metaphors and langage patterns sed by yor clients% At
the most basic le&el it is sefl to mirror bac" to the clients! perhaps as part of
a smmary! some of the 'ords they se! particlarly the 'ords they might
e(press 'ith the greatest emphasis% 3ome of the most signiJcant 'ords the
client can oMer the coach are the simple metaphors and similes they might
se% These metaphors and similes oMer the opportnity for the coach to try
some matching! pacing and leading of a diMerent sort! sing langage% Bor
CLIENT) Dhen I thin" abot the all the decisions I$&e got to ma"e! it
ma"es me feel as if I am coming p to a hge crossroads ? more
li"e 3paghetti 1nction in factQ
COACH) And 'hat does 3paghetti 1nction feel li"e to yo right no'K
CLIENT) Dell! it$s really big and bsy and confsing! and the traNc is
coming p to it really fast ? it feels li"e it$s going to be diNclt
to slo' do'n enogh to Idge 'hich 'ay I shold goQ I feel li"e
I$m going into it ot of controlQ
COACH) OL! so ho' abot 'e slo' do'n no' and thin" abot itK De
cold e&en sit in the lay8by for a 'hile so yo can ma"e a fe'
calm decisions 'ell before yo get thereQ
7atching "ey 'ords! similes and metaphors lets the client "no' yo are
really listening! and really tned in to their 'orld as they are e(periencing it
in a gi&en moment% Client and coach can play together 'ith the metaphors to
e(plore them for ne' meanings or nderstandings ? perhaps e&en for the 'ay
for'ard on their isse%
Bor some clients! ho'e&er! the metaphors they are sing may actally be
contribting to their isse% Dhile a rich sorce of insight for the coach into
ho' a client is thin"ing! metaphors can also re&eal assmptions and limitations
the client is ptting onto their thin"ing abot a gi&en isse% *siness
leaders! li"e e&eryone else! are apt to re&eal their thin"ing patterns abot
bsiness isses &ia their se of metaphor)
CLIENT) I see the battle for spremacy in this mar"etplace being foght
o&er the PaciJc Rim contries ? 'e$&e got to send or troops ot
there and scare the enemy oMQ
COACH) Do' ? sonds li"e yo thin" of yor bsiness as a 'arQ
CLIENT) Dell! it is "ind of li"e a 'ar ? 'e certainly can$t aMord to be faint
hearted! that$s for sre% The troops ha&e got to sho' gts%
COACH) 3o if bsiness is 'ar! 'ho gets hrtK
CLIENT) Dell! no' yo mention it! my team is getting "ind of stressed
ot ? and no one seems to lagh mch at the moment%
COACH) 3o 'hat might be a more sefl metaphor for yo to thin"
abot that 'old let yor team pt a lot of energy and commitment
in bt still ha&e time for some fnK
CLIENT) Dell! perhaps 'e cold start thin"ing abot it more as a competiti&e
game ? after all! no one really gets hrt % % %
In order to match! pace and lead metaphors! the coach needs to se &ery
mch the same process as 'ith the physical beha&iors described abo&e% Birst
the coach matches the metaphor by mirroring it bac"! then paces it by
e(ploring it 'ith the client! and Jnally leads it by e(ploring more positi&e
Langage and sensory systems
One of the early contribtions of NLP to the sbIect of rapport 'as the
research lin"ing langage to the sensory e(perience of indi&idals% This 'as a
&ery important de&elopment in challenging common8sense assmptions
abot ho' 'e e(perience and create or personal 'orlds% In a ntshell! the
langage yo se both re2ects and creates internal sensory states% 3omeone
'ho! for e(ample! ses a lot of &isal 'ords and e(pressions is highly li"ely to
be e(periencing their 'orld in a predominantly &isal 'ay) someone 'ho
ses a lot of aditory 'ords and phrases is li"ely to be e(periencing their
'orld in a primarily aditory 'ay! and so on% The common8sense &ie' is
diMerent! a defalt assmption that 'e all e(perience the 'orld in more or
less the same 'ay%
The implications for rapport are signiJcant) someone 'ho primarily #sees$
their 'orld is li"ely ha&e a diMerent e(perience from someone 'ho #feels$ it
,in either the tactile or emotional sense of the 'ord0 or #hears$ it%
Here is ho' people 'ith diMerent habits in this area might describe! let$s
say! the ftre of their organi<ation% 3omeone 'ith a &isal preference might
say) #Dhen I loo" to the ftre! I see a &ision of sccess% Coming o&er the
hori<on is a da<<ling &ista of opportnity% It really loo"s to me as if 'e are at
last starting to see the 'ay ahead%$ 3omeone 'ith an aditory preference
might say) #The ftre is calling ot! and it is ringing a bell of hope% De need
to create a call to arms and get e&eryone singing from the same hymn sheet%$
3omeone 'ith a "inaesthetic ,either feeling in the emotional sense or in the
physical sense of toching0 might say) #The ftre is roc" solid ? I really feel
this% De ha&e got to get a grip on or opportnities and anchor orsel&es to
or corse% Dith hope in or hearts 'e can press on%$
*ear in mind too that there are also the important senses of taste and
smell% In hman beings these seem to be of lesser importance to most people
most of the time bt there are still occasions 'hen they ha&e important
signiJcance and 'hen they appear in speech% I ha&e a friend 'hose olfactory
,smell0 and gstatory ,taste0 senses seem &ery de&eloped and important to
him% His langage 'old be #peppered$ 'ith 'ords li"e spicy! pi:ant! tasty!
ra' and pngent% Perhaps not srprisingly food and its attendant Ioys and
temptations are &ery mch part of his life%
Any boo" on basic NLP 'ill pro&ide chapter and &erse on this sbIect%
O&erall I ha&e fond it sefl in coaching to loo" for patterns in the 'ay
clients seem to e(perience the 'orld rather than pt too mch trst in &ery
speciJc obser&ations% Dith practice yo 'ill begin to notice the habitations
people ha&e in this area ? 'hether they are primarily &isal! aditory!
"inaesthetic! or e&en olfactoryOgstatory% A good starting point 'old be to
chec" ot yor o'n patterns% =o 'ill begin to notice the "inds of 'ords yo
se and ho' they relate to yor internal sensory e(perience) 'hether in fact
yo tend to be &isali<ing! listening or feeling%
Langage and eye mo&ements
NLP has established a degree of connection bet'een a person$s eye mo&ements!
ho' they are e(periencing the 'orld internally and ho' this e(perience
is re2ected in their langage% Learning ho' to ma"e sense of the eye
mo&ements of orsel&es and others gi&es rich insight into ho' 'eOthey are
processing information internally% Recogni<ing eye mo&ements and the patterns
that indi&idals create does ta"e practice! becase the pace at 'hich
people ma"e these mo&ements &aries from :ite slo' and deliberate to brief
sbtle #2ic"s$ of the eyes%
This is ho' it is organi<ed) if yo imagine loo"ing at someone$s face yo
can di&ide it mentally into pper! middle and lo'er <ones ,see Bigre F%>0%
The pper <one is 'here people tend to loo" if they are thin"ing &isally ?
ma"ing pictres% The middle <one! speciJcally 'ith eye mo&ements to the left
or right! is 'here the eyes tend to mo&e 'hen people are processing sond%
The lo'er <one is the area 'here the eyes tend to mo&e 'hen someone is
in&ol&ed 'ith their feelings or tal"ing to themsel&es% There are some
important diMerences in left8 and right8sided mo&ements too) for righthanded
people! loo"ing to the left generally e:ates 'ith the past! e%g%
remembered images and sonds! and loo"ing to the right e:ates to ftre or
imagined images and sonds%
Dhen coaching! yo can learn to spot the patterns in client thin"ing ?
for e(ample! someone 'ho constantly loo"s p'ards 'hen spea"ing is &ery
li"ely to be doing a certain amont of &isali<ing% *y noticing their predominant
eye mo&ements and their accompanying langage! yo can create
an idea of ho' they are thin"ing ,bt of corse 'hat they are thin"ing is for
them to re&eal only as they choose) NLP does not oMer mind8reading capabilities0%
The beneJts of this pattern recognition to rapport8bilding are great)
as a coach yo can e(tend the matching process to this detailed and important
aspect of beha&ior% =o can also apply the matchingOpacingOleading
se:ence to eye mo&ements and langage patterns in order to bring ne'
perspecti&es and diMerent resorce states to the client% Bor e(ample! I once
had a client 'ho tended to get stc" in #problem$ mode from time to time)
'hen this happened he 'old habitally drop his eyes to the 2oor for long
periods% Once I had spotted the pattern I 'as able to encorage him to lift his
eyes p'ards and change his focs to 'hat he 'anted in relation to his isse!
i%e% to get him otcome8focsed in his thin"ing and in his 'ay of thin"ing%
Bigre F%>
*ild 2e(ibility
It is important not to stereotype yorself and others in this area ? it is 'rong to
label people as #being$ &isal! aditory or "inaesthetic% Neither is it the case
that any particlar sensory patterns are better than any other% The point is
that #'hat yo don$t se! yo lose$ ? if yo habitally do not se parts of yor
sensory apparats! yo tend to place restrictions on the range of thin"ing and
feeling that is a&ailable to yo% The preferences people e(hibit are not absolte
restrictions! Ist habits! and 'e all ha&e the potential to change habits if 'e
choose% I learned dring my NLP training that I had a hea&y aditory dominance
? to this day if I 'al" into a room or a bilding I tend to be more
aMected by its sond :alities than by anything else! inclding the frnishings
or color scheme% *t I ha&e learned o&er time that there is a 'hole 'orld of
other e(periences ot there ? that I can change or e&en enhance the :ality of
my e(perience by paying more attention to diMerent parts of it% I ha&e taght
myself to be more &isal and "inaesthetic 'hen I choose to be! 'ith liberating
and energi<ing reslts% I achie&ed this by de&eloping the habit of noticing
'hen I 'as in a particlar sensory #mode$ in my head! and by consciosly
ma"ing a change if I chose% Bor e(ample! I might be thin"ing ahead to a
forthcoming e&ent! say a party! and recogni<e that 'hat I 'as doing 'as
planning lots of con&ersations in my head) by s'itching consciosly to
#&isal$ mode ? ma"ing imaginary pictres ? I 'as also able to enIoy anticipating
'hat things 'old loo" li"e! something that ga&e me an enriched
representation of 'hat 'as ahead! and a greater sense of anticipatory pleasre%
I ha&e also been able to 'or" 'ith clients from time to time in ma"ing
them more conscios of ho' they appear to be e(periencing the 'orld% I
remember in particlar one client 'ho fond it a re&elation that he cold
choose to see lots more pictres in his head) this 'as an important change
from his predominant habit of 'or"ing 'ith sonds and feelings! and led to
more 2e(ibility ? and potential resorceflness ? of thin"ing%
3ensory systems and mood
*y de&eloping yor 2e(ibility in e(periencing the 'orld throgh yor senses
yo can enhance yor resorceflness and 2e(ibility% As a &ery small e(ample
of this! try the follo'ing% 3it 'ith yor head le&el! and mo&e yor eyes
p'ards as far as they 'ill go% Notice yor mood 'ith yor eyes at this le&el!
and then gradally! slo'ly! mo&e yor eyes do'n'ards 'hile "eeping yor
head le&el% Notice ho' yor mood changes as yor eyes mo&e slo'ly
do'n'ards ? most people report that their mood becomes more serios and
e&en sombre as their eyes trac" do'n'ards! and becomes #lighter$ 'hen they
mo&e their eyes bac" p'ards%
Langage and its impact on rapport in coaching
3heila 'as a highly s"illed NH3 chief e(ecti&e 'ho fond herself in a
some'hat neasy relationship 'ith her Trst$s chairperson% The srface
relationship seemed good enogh ? there 'as a ci&il! cooperati&e! constrcti&e
tone ? bt nderneath it she felt that real nderstanding and rapport
'ere missing% At times it seemed to her that they 'ere spea"ing diMerent
langages% This led her to feel she 'as not really trsted by her chairperson
and that as a reslt she! the chairperson! 'as too #hands on$! not lea&ing
3heila to get on 'ith the Iob% This relationship 'as critically important to
3heila ? 'ithot it going 'ell her leadership of the Trst 'old be signiJcantly
'ea"ened% 3heila 'anted to se her coaching to ma"e the relationship
'ith her chairperson more trsting and robst so they cold tal"
more freely and get to isses :ic"er and 'ith greater nderstanding%
E&entally 3heila and the chairperson agreed 'e shold 'or" as a trio and
loo" at the relationship! 'ith me acting as coach to both% There follo'ed a
nmber of meetings 'ith them! both together and indi&idally% As 'e e(plored
the relationship it became apparent that! despite a basic 'ish to cooperate and a
high le&el of ci&ility! there 'as a relati&ely lo' degree of rapport% Althogh both
claimed to respect each other they seemed a little neasy 'hen tal"ing together
and o&er8carefl in the 'ay they 'old choose their 'ords! as if an(ios not to
ma"e a mista"e or case oMence% At the root of this nease 'as a lac" of basic
rapport% Dhen I listened to them spea"ing together! it became ob&ios to me
they 'ere tal"ing almost diMerent langages) 3heila$s 'as peppered 'ith &isal
'ords and her chairperson$s 'ith #feelings$ 'ords! of both emotional and
"inaesthetic types% 3heila 'old tal" abot her #&ision$ for the organi<ation!
'hile her chair fond it #hard to get a handle$ on 'hat she 'as saying% It
re:ired a short crash corse in getting both parties a'are of ho' they each
'ere representing the 'orld to themsel&es to ma"e a commnications brea"throgh
'hich! ltimately! released the relationship into mch greater freedom
and nderstanding% They 'ere initially a little perple(ed by the concept of
sensory bias in langage! bt they :ic"ly too" to the concept and began to
ma"e adIstments for each other ? they de&eloped a literal degree of #common
sense$% In fact! the process of learning abot this aspect of themsel&es and each
other in itself strengthened their rapport%
In smmary! rapport8bilding in all its many possible forms is the absolte
fondation of the coaching relationship% NLP is an important sorce of
ideas and techni:es for creating and maintaining this rapport! and ths in
helping a client be at their most resorcefl 'hen being coached ? and
E Relationships and the
A &ery high proportion of the coaching clients 'ith 'hom I 'or" ha&e isses
arond their 'or"ing relationships% Indeed I 'old sggest that the maIority
of the coaching assignments I ha&e nderta"en o&er the years ha&e in&ol&ed
relationship isses of one sort or another% In the 'orld of 'or"! the ability to
create and maintain positi&e relationships is absoltely at the heart of eMecti&e
'or"ing ? the research on emotional intelligence sggests it is perhaps the
critical factor in achie&ing career sccess! gi&en an acceptable le&el of technical
competence% The sbIect area from the coaching point of &ie' is
enormos) managing yor boss! 'or"ing 'ith colleages! leading teams!
settling into a ne' role! 'or"ing in bsiness partnerships ? the list is &irtally
endless% Here is Ist a tiny sample of some of the relationship isses that ha&e
come my 'ay)
C needing to stand p for oneself ? saying #no$ or as"ing for one$s rights
C fear of someone else at 'or"
C 'orries that a relationship has got stc" or is deterioraratng
C needing to be more persasi&e
C needing to in2ence or negotiate more eMecti&ely in a range of
C needing to manage diNclt meetings%
*ear in mind that predominantly I ha&e been coaching organi<ational leaders)
each of these leaders 'as highly intelligent! e(perienced and able% They
generally 'old ha&e &ery strong intellectal abilities and a clear strategic
grasp of 'hat they 'ere trying to achie&e for their organi<ation! bt 'ere to at
least some e(tent frstrated or e&en stymied by isses of relationship and
A note on the asserti&eness approach
In his boo" 6sing =or *rain ? Bor a Change! ,>A4A0 NLP pioneer Richard
*andler sggests in a sarcastic 'ay that #asserti&eness training$ shold really
be called #loneliness preparation$% This is perhaps a little sa&age! bt he does
ha&e a point% Dhen I 'as trained as a social 'or"er in the early >A@.s 'e 'ere
drilled in asserti&eness techni:es as the basic method for eMecti&e commnication
and in2ence% The intention 'as positi&e ? to master a mode of
eMecti&e commnication based on the principle of mtal respect! for oneself
and for the other person in the relationship% 6sing asserti&eness techni:es
yo 'old in theory be able to get 'hat yo felt 'as yor entitlement 'hile
respecting the legitimate needs of others%
The general problem 'ith mch asserti&eness training 'as that it lac"ed
an nderlying acti&e principle of 2e(ibility% The langage of asserti&eness
became tainted! fairly or nfairly! 'ith perceptions of rigid! #politically correct$
phraseology) #I hear 'hat yo$re saying$! #Let$s loo" for a 'in?'in
soltion$ and the classic #Dith respect % % %$ 'ere regarded by many people as
pretentios! predictable and clicheSd%
*andler also pointed ot that asserti&eness techni:es only 'or"ed
'here both parties 'ere sharing something of the same paradigms of &ales
and beha&ior% In some of the mean streets of American cities! he pointed
ot! 'here #yo cold get "illed for a ham sand'ich$! practising asserti&eness
techni:es 'old get yo into big troble% E&en in the relati&ely benign and
homogeneos realm of bsiness or organi<ational life! no t'o people share
e(actly the same paradigm or 'orld &ie') therefore the s"illed commnicatorO
in2encer needs to be able to adopt a highly 2e(ible approach in order to be
eMecti&e ? 'hile at the same time maintaining a congrent hold on their o'n
identity and &ales% It 'as from these assmptions that many of the rapport
and commnication techni:es of NLP arose%
OMering ad&ice
The temptation to oMer ad&ice in relationship isses is as great as! if not
greater than! it is in other areas of coaching% Ho'e&er! the 'ay for'ard for the
client has to come from the client themsel&es in this area% And the 'ay
for'ard is rarely abot logic or "no'ledge% Clients often "no' 'hat they
shold do ? the reason they often do not do 'hat they "no' they shold do is
generally not an intellectal isse! bt an emotional one! or a matter of
perception% To oMer an ob&ios e(ample) it 'old be pointless as a coach to
'or" 'ith a client to confront a blly and to loo" at the techni:es for doing
this eMecti&ely if the real isse is the client$s fear%
NLP approaches to relationship isses in coaching
NLP oMers the coach many tools to allo' a client to disco&er or redisco&er
resorces needed to ma"e progress on their relationship isses%
A characteristic of the NLP approach is its 2e(ibility) tools described in other
chapters as being helpfl in 'or"ing 'ith other isses might be e:ally
helpfl or appropriate in the conte(t of relationship 'or"%
Dor"ing 'ith 'ell8formed otcomes! for e(ample! might be an entirely
appropriate 'ay to help a client start thin"ing abot their isse ? some
relationship isses are problematic precisely becase the client is nclear
abot 'hat they actally 'ant from the relationship% I clearly recall 'or"ing
'ith a bsiness leader 'ho 'as deeply frstrated 'ith his e(ecti&e team! Ist
as they 'ere e:ally frstrated 'ith him% The root of the mtal frstration
'as that! althogh the leader had &ery high e(pectations of the team! it 'as
not clear in his mind e(actly ho' these e(pectations shold be met in their
beha&ior% He did not ha&e! or e(press! sNcient clarity in his mind abot the
actal beha&ior he 'as loo"ing for from them% He tended to tal" to them in
high8le&el conceptal langage abot sch things as #ta"ing initiati&e$ or
#brea"ing the mold$! and neither he nor they 'ere able to nderstand 'hat
he really 'anted% *y sing the 'ell8formed otcomes process 'e 'ere able to
gi&e him! and sbse:ently the team! mch greater clarity% 3peciJcally I 'as
able to focs him on the e&idence he 'as loo"ing for in the beha&ior he
'anted! in direct sensory terms ? i%e% 'hat he 'anted to see! hear and feel in
terms of their beha&ior% Dhen he 'as able to say directly 'hat he 'anted!
the team "ne' 'here they stood and 'ere able to go abot satisfying his
Dor"ing 'ith self8limiting beliefs is another sefl approach% Clients fre:ently
get stc" or become dissatisJed in their relationships at 'or" ,and in
their pri&ate li&es for that matter0 becase they carry assmptions or beliefs
abot 'hat they canOcannot or sholdOshold not do% One rather poignant
e(ample 'as a 'oman I coached 'ho had risen to e(ecti&e stats on the
basis of hard 'or" and intellectal ability! bt 'ho! despite generally good
self8esteem! fond it &ery diNclt to as" for 'hat she needed for herself in the
'or" conte(t ? she cold not e&en bring herself to claim her bsiness
e(penses% De 'or"ed on this and e&entally it emerged that she had a deepseated
belief that it 'as #'rong$ to as" for things for yorself ? a belief
established in early childhood as the conse:ence of a combination of
parental and school ethos% De 'ere able to install a mch more empo'ering
belief sing the self8limiting beliefs frame'or"% 3he 'as able to bring this to
bear in many of her 'or"ing relationships%
As a coach! yo 'ill need to create and maintain positi&e relationships
'ith yor &arios clients! and be able to help them to do the same in their
relationships both inside and otside the 'or"place% To do this yo 'ill need
to nderstand and 'or" 'ith the concept and practice of rapport8bilding%
Indeed the ability to create rapport 'ith oneself and then 'ith others is at the
heart of sccessfl relationships ,see Chapter F0%
In this chapter I 'ill focs speciJcally on the #perceptal positions$ or
#meta8mirror$ techni:e! a #set piece$ from NLP that has helped many thosands
of people o&er many years to re&ie' and rene' the 'ay they relate to
the people 'ho are important to them%
The #perceptal positions$ or #meta8mirror$ techni:e
I Jrst learned this techni:e in >A@@ on my practitioner training% At the time I
initially fond it so radically diMerent from anything else I had e(perienced
that I 'as sspicios of it ? if this 'asn$t e&idence of NLP as a load of Californian
mmbo8Imbo! 'hat 'asK I did not reali<e at the time that the
techni:e 'as dra'n and adapted from a lengthy and respectable tradition of
'hat is called #t'o8chair 'or"$ in Gestalt therapy%
To this day I often feel I need to pa&e the 'ay careflly in preparing
clients to try the techni:e for themsel&es% The "ey reason for this cation
and careflness of approach is that the techni:e is &ery po'erfl and
eMecti&e ? it 'or"s! and it 'or"s :ic"ly% This in itself can be challenging to
the e(pectations of many clients) many of s are not sed to the concept of
:ic"! po'erfl! positi&e change! ha&ing habitated to the belief that any
positi&e change ,if reali<able at all0 needs to be the reslt of slo'! persistent
eMort of the #no pain! no gain$ &ariety%
It can be challenging to many of s to Jnd that pleasant! desirable change
can be achie&ed :ic"ly and 'ith lasting eMect% Parado(ically! 'e often seem
happy to accept the reality of negati&e change being :ic" and lasting)
something bad happens to s and 'e thin" it is for e&er% I ha&e lost cont of
the nmber of times! for e(ample 'hen loo"ing at self8limiting beliefs! that a
client e(periences something in their yoth! say an episode of failre or
reIection! and generali<es from this single e&ent that they are #failres$ or
#nlo&able$ for e&er% The po'er of the techni:e means that it needs to be
introdced to the client 'ith de care and respect for the maintenance of
This techni:e can be sed 'hen a client has identiJed a relationship
they 'ish to impro&e in some 'ay% This does not necessarily mean a problematic
relationship! althogh in practice this seems to be the case in most
coaching scenarios% It is 'orth emphasi<ing that "no'ledge and se of the
techni:e can help someone to get the &ery best ot of their most cherished
relationships! ones that are already going 'ell ? I ha&e seen many clients 'ho
Jll p 'ith lo&e and pride as they 'or" throgh the techni:e in order to
impro&e already 'onderfl relationships! perhaps 'ith their children or
The cr( of the techni:e sits elegantly at the heart of the principles of
both coaching and NLP) it is directly focsed on helping someone access their
resorceflness and! in so doing! to eMect desired change% It also challenges
the assmption 'e can fall into that someho' #a relationship$ is a static and
tangible thing) instead! relationships are redeJned as acti&e! dynamic and
open to in2ence and impro&ement by changes in beha&ior%
To change someone else! Jrst change yorself
One of the most signiJcant aspects of the meta8mirror techni:e is that it
focses the responsibility for change in a relationship on the clients themsel&es
rather than on the other people in the relationships they 'ish to
impro&e% 5ery often clients 'ant to change the other person ? or at least they
complain abot ho' the other person in the relationship is beha&ing to'ards
them% The meta8mirror focses clients on 'hat they themsel&es can do to
ma"e an impro&ement in a relationship and on helping them to access the
personal resorces they need in order to ma"e positi&e changes in their o'n
attitdes and beha&iors%
Ho' it 'or"s
Let me describe the techni:e and then loo" at a cople of real e(amples of
ho' it has 'or"ed so 'ell in coaching% I ha&e seen nmeros &ariations on
this techni:e! and oMer a slightly personali<ed format that 'or"s &ery 'ell
for me and for the maIority of stdents of coaching to 'hom I teach it% I
otline a :ite detailed accont of my approach becase I thin" the details are
particlarly important in facilitating the client$s process eMecti&ely and safely%
It is particlarly important that yo stic" only to the :estions and steps I
describe here) sometimes the rge to get in&ol&ed in nderstanding the
content is strong! leading the coach into the temptation to as" e(tra :estions
of a conselling natre! e%g% :estions beginning 'ith #'hyK$ =o
shold a&oid this temptation if the client is to get fll beneJt%
Ha&ing helped the client to identify the relationship they 'ant to
impro&e and e(plained the reasons for sing the techni:e! ta"e the client
throgh the follo'ing steps%
3tep >
Ha&e the client sit do'n! and sit do'n or "neel ne(t to them! side by side ,in
the interest of maintaining rapport0% As" the client to imagine the #other
person$ sitting in an ,actal0 chair placed opposite them ,see Bigre E%>0%
Encorage the client to create as complete a &isal image as possible! and
chec" they ha&e done this% As" the client for some 'ay of referring to the
imaginary person! bt lea&e open to the client the right to se a made8p
name or perhaps a single initial if they are at all sensiti&e abot a conJdentiality
isse ? the 'hole e(ercise! as 'ith all coaching! shold be abot
facilitating process rather than trying to nderstand or interpret content%
As" the client ho' they feel 'hen they loo" at the imaginary person% *e
a'are that many clients 'ill respond to a #feeling$ :estion 'ith a #thin"ing$
ans'er% If they do this! persist in as"ing for a genine #feeling$ 'ord% Repeat
the :estion! #Ho' do yo feel 'hen yo loo" at TK$ se&eral times! ntil the
client rns ot of ans'ers ? this is almost al'ays after they ha&e identiJed
three! for or J&e feelings% *e a'are that sometimes the feelings might be
mi(ed) it is common for the feelings described to consist of mi(tres li"e
#aMection! admiration! anger and frstration$% It is sefl to re2ect bac" to the
client the actal 'ords they ha&e chosen) this ser&es to let them "no' yo are
paying close attention and also allo's them to re2ect on 'hat they ha&e said
? to chec" if these are indeed the feelings they ha&e%
3tep -
As" the client to stand! and stand p 'ith them in order to maintain rapport%
3ggest they breathe a little bit and perhaps #sha"e ot$ as 'ith a mild e(ercise
rotine) this is to ensre they are able to #sha"e oM$ a particlar state of mind
and feeling%
As" them to sit in the second chair! and sit or "neel ne(t to them% As" the
client to imagine they are no' the other person! this #person T$! and get them
to imagine that as #person T$ they are loo"ing bac" at themsel&es ,the client0
in the original chair ,see Bigre E%-0%
As before! gi&e them the chance to create a strong &isal image% As" the
:estion! #As T! 'hen yo loo" bac" at yorself! ho' do yo! as T! feelK$
Again! ma"e sre the response is one of feeling! not thin"ing% In particlar!
chec" that yor client does not say something li"e #I thin" T 'old feel % % %$ ?
ma"e sre they se the 'ords #As T! I feel % % %$% As in the Jrst step! chec" that
yo ha&e allo'ed them to e(press all their feelings ? again! bet'een three and
J&e is typical%
At this point! as a reslt of metaphorically standing in the shoes of the
#other person$! the client may begin to gain almost immediate insight into
'hat they need to do to impro&e the relationship% 3eeing the sitation! e&en
Bigre E%>
imaginarily! from the other person$s point of &ie' allo's the client to de&elop
empathy for the other person! reslting in ne' insight%
On the other hand! some clients can become a little concerned at this
point! often becase they are 'orried that any #insight$ they may ha&e
de&eloped is the reslt of #dbios$ information! i%e% their #mind8reading$ of
the other person 'hile in the second position% =o can reassre the client
here that there is no mind8reading going on) the point of mo&ing to the
second person$s position is to gain empathy and to bring to the forefront
intiti&e or instincti&e thoghts and feelings abot ho' the other person
might be e(periencing the relationship%
3tep F
Ne(t! ta"e the client to a position 'here they ha&e an easy o&er&ie' of the
t'o chairs ? sally se&eral feet a'ay! standing as the third point of a triangle
bet'een the chairs% After a brief #sha"e8ot$! as" the client to ta"e in the
pictre! i%e% create an imaginary #tablea$! 'ith their imaginary self in the Jrst
chair and the other person in the second chair ,see Bigre E%F0%
This is the part of the techni:e 'here often the client really begins to
beneJt from seeing the relationship! literally! from diMerent perspecti&es% The
coach$s Iob no' is to help the client beneJt from this ne' perspecti&e by
as"ing :estions that help them to consolidate their learning% I fa&or
stic"ing to the follo'ing fe' :estions)
C Ho' does the relationship stri"e yo from this positionK
C Dhat do yo 'ant for the relationshipK
C Dhat 'ill happen if nothing changesK
C Dhat ad&ice 'old yo oMer! from this position! to the #yo$ sat in
the Jrst chairK
At this point! yo as coach may notice some physical changes in the client)
often they are more rela(ed! and their &oices sond more conJdent)
breathing can be slo'er% I Jnd I can increase this tendency for the client to
Bigre E%-
rela( by #leading$ them 'ith my o'n physicality! i%e% becoming more rela(ed
myselfP and that so doing helps their concentration on the e(ercise%
3tep E
Dhen yo ha&e Jnished as"ing the :estions otlined in step F! ta"e the
client to a forth position 'here they can clearly see the t'o pre&ios #&ersions$
of themsel&es! i%e% themsel&es in position > and F ,see Bigre E%E0% ,It
does not matter if they ha&e a clear &ie' of position - at this stage%0
After a &ery brief sha"e8ot! let yor client "no' t'o things) Jrst! that
this is getting close to the end of the e(ercise ,they may be beginning to
'onder by no'0! and second! that this is the "ey stage! 'here they 'ill learn
'hat resorces they need to ma"e se of to get 'hat they 'ant from the
relationship% As" them to focs &isally on the t'o pre&ios #sel&es$! i%e% the
self in the Jrst seat and the self standing in the third position% =o can tell
them to ignore the #other person$ for the time beingQ Get them to really
&isali<e the t'o #sel&es$ and as" the follo'ing :estion) #Dhat resorces does
the detached ##yo$$ ha&e that the ##yo$$ crrently engaged in the relationship
Actally! this is the fancy 'ay of as"ing the :estion% +epending on 'hat
considerations of rapport re:ire! and sing appropriate pointing! yo cold
as" the :estion in other 'ays! sch as) #Dhat has sheOhe got that sheOhe
needs in that relationshipK$ The "ey is to as" the :estion that allo's the
Bigre E%F
client to recogni<e the e(tra resorceflness that the detached &ersion of
them has%
At an absolte minimm the client 'ill notice the positi&e eMect of the
detachment itself! and ho' it allo's them to ta"e a cooler! more thoghtfl
o&er&ie'! less cro'ded by their immediate emotions as e(perienced in the
Jrst position% In addition! clients fre:ently notice the #detached$ self has
some or all of the follo'ing)
C more insight
C greater matrity ,some clients e&en say their detached self loo"s more
C greater 'isdom
C more compassion
C a mch clearer focs for'ards%
And many more % % %
Bigre E%E
Binal steps) ma"ing it cont
The ltimate aim of the e(ercise is to pt the client in toch 'ith! and gi&e
them access to! their fllest resorces in the conte(t of the relationship% Bor
this to happen the client needs to be able to go bac" to the original position
and re8e(perience the relationship bt 'ith all the resorces they identiJed from
their obser&ations of the #detached$ self a&ailable to them% There are se&eral &ariations
on ho' the coach ta"es them bac" to this position bt I particlarly
li"e to do it in the follo'ing 'ay%
3till in the forth position! get the client to repeat to themsel&es all of the
resorces they notice in themsel&es in the detached or third position% E(plain
to them that yo are going to ta"e them bac" to this third position in order
that they can #ta"e on$ those resorces% Ta"e them bac" to the third position
and in&ite them to feel and flly e(perience the resorceflness they ha&e in
that position) for e(ample! if they noticed from the forth position that their
detached self had more compassion! in&ite them to really feel the compassion
bac" in the third position%
Dhen the client is feeling flly #resorced p$! ta"e them bac" to the Jrst
chair and as" them to ha&e another loo" at the other person in the relationship
no' that they are in possession of their fllest resorces% As" them
'hat they feel no' 'hen they loo" at the other person% There 'ill be big
diMerences! almost al'ays totally positi&e% 7ost clients report bac" tremendos
impro&ements in ho' they feel and mch greater clarity abot ho' to
ta"e the relationship for'ards in the 'ay they 'old 'ant%
Bor an added toch! yo cold as" the client to sit once again! in the
second position! as the other person in the relationship! and as" them as the
other person ,repeating step -0 to say ho' they feel loo"ing bac" at themsel&es
in the ne'ly resorced state% The beneJt of doing this is that in&ariably
the #other person$ feels better as 'ell as a reslt of the gains made by the
3mmary of the techni:e
This is sch a po'erfl and elegant techni:e that a boo" cold be de&oted to
it alone% O&er years of sing it I ha&e had almost e(clsi&ely positi&e reslts%
3ometimes it happens that the client can get to the third position and
recogni<e! in response to the :estion #Dhat do yo 'ant for the relationshipK$!
that 'hat they really 'ant is for it to be o&er and done 'ith% This can
be a po'erfl moment for the client! and occasionally a fe' tears might
reslt! bt o&er'helmingly they e&entally recogni<e that to be free of a
relationship that is no longer ser&ing either party any sefl prpose is a &ery
positi&e thing%
T'o e(amples from practice
3andy 'as a talented and e(perienced **C department head 'ho had made a
signiJcant achie&ement in combining t'o departments together to 'or" in a
more streamlined and cohesi&e 'ay% He had created a ne' senior editorial
team to rn the ne' combined department! bt 'as ha&ing troble managing
his relationship 'ith one of the team% 3andy described this team member as a
#smiling assassin$) he 'old appear to be all s'eetness and light bt at crcial
and often highly pblic moments 'old attac" ,'hile still smiling0 an
important aspect of 3andy$s leadership ? typically a diNclt decision he had
made or a policy he 'as prsing% 3andy 'anted the assassin on board ? he
needed his talents ? bt 'as not prepared to tolerate the beha&ior% The
challenge 3andy 'anted to address in coaching 'as ho' to get the beha&ior
he needed from this man 'ithot resorting to hea&y8handed management
tactics sch as issing ltimatms or going do'n a disciplinary rote%
In position one! 3andy described his feelings as anger! fear! admiration
and compassion% He 'as srprised to notice ho' mi(ed his feelings 'ere! and
e&en more srprised to note that deep do'n he 'as 'orried for this other
man$s 'ellbeing ? he reali<ed the other man 'as ptting his immediate career
prospects at ris" by his beha&ior and 'as #painting himself into a corner$%
In position t'o! 3andy described the other man$s feelings as anger! fear!
admiration! Iealosy and contempt% 3andy 'as strc" by ho' some of the
feelings mirrored his o'n ,something that occrs more often than not in the
meta8mirror0% He 'as also strc" by ho' strong the feeling of contempt 'as%
In the third position 3andy recogni<ed that the relationship 'as heading
for a se&ere crisis if the dynamic did not change% He reali<ed that 'hat he
'anted for it 'as more openness abot feelings and a mtal gro'th in trst!
respect and honesty% The critical reali<ation 'as that he! 3andy! 'old need
to ta"e the initiati&e and change his beha&ior% 3peciJcally he 'old need to
be absoltely open abot his negati&e feelings! say clearly 'hat he 'anted
from the other man in terms of his beha&ior and! Jnally! spell ot the longterm
conse:ences if this change of beha&ior 'as not forthcoming% In short!
he recogni<ed the need to be honest! open and clear and to spell ot ho' he
sa' things and 'hat he e(pected in the ftre%
In the forth position 3andy 'as ama<ed to note the comparison
bet'een the t'o diMerent &ersions of himself in positions one and three% The
resorces he noticed in position three inclded clarity! perspecti&e and personal
strength ? he 'as particlarly ta"en 'ith the latter! noting that in
position three he loo"ed and sonded li"e the leader he needed and 'anted
to be%
An interesting obser&ation from 3andy 'as that in position three he
seemed to himself to be abot thirty years older than in position one ? not in
physical terms bt in emotional terms% He percei&ed himself in position three
to ha&e reta"en possession of all the hard8'on e(perience and matrity that
had someho' absented itself from his grasp in the conte(t of the troblesome
relationship% I 'as able to tell him that this often seemed to be the case in this
particlar e(ercise! i%e% that someho' people 'old seem to re&ert! psychologically
spea"ing! to a less resorcefl time of their li&es in the conte(t of a
trobling relationship%
I told him of my e(perience 'ith a matre and rather formidable bsiness'oman
'ith 'hom I had once 'or"ed! 'ho 'as ha&ing diNclty getting
fair and respectfl treatment from her large! lod! male boss! of 'hom she
'as frightened% 3he had noticed that in position three she 'as at least forty
years older emotionally than in position one! 'here she felt li"e she had done
'hen she 'as a little girl being told oM by her large! lod father%
3andy$s reali<ation 'as yet another e(ample of the principle that the
client is a resorcefl being! and that it is only the change of conte(t that
might temporarily create a distance from a particlar resorce%
I too" 3andy bac" to position three to reassociate himself 'ith his
matre! strong and resorcefl self and then in&ited him to retrn to his
original position% *ac" in position one 3andy noticed that his feelings! and
indeed some of his literal perception of the other person! had changed% In
place of anger and fear he had clarity of focs and a resol&e to pt the relationship
on a positi&e footing% I in&ited him to ta"e p the other person$s
position one last time! and 3andy 'as gratiJed to note that as the #other
person$ he had gained respect for 3andy bt had lost his fear! Iealosy and
In re&ie'ing the e(ercise I reminded 3andy that he had not been in a
mind8reading e(ercise in position t'o bt had been engaging and e(ploring
his o'n intiti&e and empathic feelings abot the other person% De Jnished
this part of the coaching session by loo"ing at ho' 3andy 'as going to deal
'ith the relationship bac" in the reality of the 'or"place% 3andy left the
session conJdent that he 'as going to deal 'ith it positi&ely% The otcome as
I last heard it from 3andy 'as that the #smiling assassin$ 'as no' beha&ing
mch better and that a hge sorce of tension had been remo&ed from the
I ha&e contined to 'or" intermittently 'ith 3andy and it is interesting
to re2ect ho' a single e(ercise in&ol&ing a change of perception and a
reclaiming of emotional strength for one indi&idal has had many po'erfl
"noc"8on eMects% His athority and respect 'ithin the team has gro'n as a
reslt of the 'ay in 'hich he handled the #assassin$ ,'hose o'n career has
been stabili<ed0% The team in trn has gained conJdence and prpose! and
the eMect on the 'ider department has been a tangible lift in morale and
Laren 'as a local athority Jnance director 'hose team 'as nderperforming)
she felt she had tried e&erything to moti&ate the team bt 'as
not getting the response she had hoped for% Again! she 'anted to a&oid going
do'n the #hea&y$ rote of disciplining members of the team ? she felt they
had the talent and ability needed bt 'ere Ist not getting the message abot
'hat she 'anted from them in terms of performance% Laren cold not
nderstand ho' they cold fail to nderstand her% 3he thoght she had
e(pressed her opinion and her re:irements 'ith nambigos clarity ?
someho' it 'as falling on deaf ears! the team not seeming to respond 'ith
any sense of rgency or e&en 'ith any grasp of 'hat she 'as as"ing of them%
In this case the e(ercise re&ealed to Laren that she 'as simply not
creating enogh impact in ho' she 'as approaching the team% 3he learned
that she had to e(press far more emotion ? spell ot speciJcally ho' angry
and frstrated she 'as! albeit in a controlled 'ay% The e(ercise itself contained
a slight &ariation! as there 'as a 'hole team of people in&ol&ed rather
than an indi&idal% I helped Laren to imagine a nmber of the team sitting in
the second position% Brom this position she 'as able to recogni<e that her
steady! measred approach to commnication 'as obscring her real feelings
? that the team simply did not recogni<e ho' frios she 'as inside becase
she spo"e 'ith sch calmness and apparent e:animity%
This insight ga&e Laren the impets to change her commnication style
radically% Ho'e&er! for her to retrn to the team and e(press real emotion 'e
had to do a spplementary piece of 'or" on a self8limiting belief ,see a fll
accont on ho' to do this in Chapter /0 'hich 'as that it 'as #'rong$ to
e(press anger% De also did a piece of role8play! gi&ing her the chance to
practise and get feedbac" from me on the impact of her commnication%
Dhen 'e had 'or"ed throgh this! Laren had in place all the resorces she
needed to ma"e her desired change ? insight! moti&ation! s"ills and belief%
The meta8mirror as an aid to in2ence in grop sitations
Top leaders are fre:ently called pon to be in2ential in grops% *rian! an
otstandingly talented NH3 chief e(ecti&e! 'as deeply trobled 'hen it
came to presenting an argment or a report to grops of senior managers and
non8e(ecti&e directors% There 'as a particlar monthly meeting that Jlled
him 'ith so mch dread that he had on t'o occasions literally fainted 'hile
preparing to spea"% *rian felt that his career 'as in danger of stalling and 'as
e(periencing a se&ere le&el of distress and embarrassment o&er the isse%
Dhile treading careflly and being at pains to point ot I 'as not in the
bsiness of attempting phobia cres! I did oMer to try to help *rian 'ith some
of the techni:es and tools dra'n from coaching%
De 'ent throgh a nmber of relati&ely con&entional techni:es
inclding breathing! rela(ation and &isali<ation! bt 'ith little real beneJt
to *rian) e&entally I decided to try the meta8mirror approach%
The approach is essentially the same as abo&e! bt 'ith sbtle diMererences
of 'ording% Dhen he 'as in position one I as"ed *rian! #Ho' do yo
feel 'hen yo loo" at the gropK$
Instead of ta"ing the second8position &ie'point of the #other person$!
one ta"es the &ie'point of the #other persons$% I said something li"e! #Imagine
yo are part of the grop 'atching *rian prepare to spea"% Dhen yo loo" at
him! as part of the grop! ho' do yo feelK$ It 'as this position that created
the brea"throgh learning for *rian) he recogni<ed that the grop 'as not! as
he had assmed! conspiring to create his discomfort bt 'as a grop of
indi&idals 'ho 'anted him to scceed and 'ere terriJed of their o'n
embarrassment if he 'ere to strggle to perform 'ell in front of them%
In the third position I as"ed *rian to imagine he 'as standing to one side
'atching the 'hole scenario! and 'atched him rela( &isibly as he reali<ed
that the 'hole sitation cold! indeed shold! be a 'in?'in scenario% In the
forth position he 'as able to spot all the resorces he needed! and actally
possessed! to in2ence a grop eMecti&ely%
The meta8mirror and stage fright
In another sitation I 'as able to coach Late! an actor 'hom or company
employs as a professional role8player on or corses% Late had gro'n scared to
go onto an actal stage and perform in an actal drama ? she had e(perienced
bad dreams abot forgetting her lines and 'as frightened of the adience% In
this particlar case I got her to imagine that in position one she 'as on stage)
her description of her feelings 'hen she loo"ed at the adience inclded
'ords li"e #terriJed$! #paralysed$ and #empty$% I then as"ed her to imagine
herself in position t'o ? imagining herself as part of the adience loo"ing at
the #Late$ 'ho 'as onstage% Brom this position she described her feelings as
#embarrassed$! #ncomfortable$ or #a'"'ard$ and 'orried% This insight 'as in
itself sefl to Late ? she had hitherto assmed the adience 'old be at least
to a degree hostile) it 'as a relief to reali<e that the adience basically 'anted
her to scceed%
Bor the third position I as"ed Late to imagine herself in the 'ings of the
theatre% Brom this position she reali<ed that she 'anted to bild on the
positi&e feelings of the adience ? to gi&e them 'hat they 'anted from her as
a performer% 3he 'as also able to gi&e herself some ad&ice abot managing her
ner&es! bilding on all her years of e(perience and training) she in fact "ne'
e&erything she 'as spposed to do to manage her ner&es and conJdence
Binally 'e 'ent to a forth position! in the imaginary aditorim% Brom
this position Late 'as able to see that the &ersion of herself in the 'ings 'as
an e(perienced! capable! highly trained actor 'ho had only been held bac" by
her assmptions of adience hostility% Binally! 'e too" her bac" throgh the
positions and broght her resorcefl self bac" to position one%
5ariations and adaptations
3ometimes there is no need to go throgh the 'hole rotine% I ha&e on
nmeros occasions got to the third position and as"ed the client 'hat they
'anted from the relationship! only to hear them say something along the
lines that 'hat they most 'anted 'as for the relationship to end! becase
they had had enogh of it% This is by no means a negati&e otcome for the
client ? I can recall no occasion 'hen this reali<ation on their part had a
negati&e impact! althogh sometimes there has been a degree of sadness at
the thoght of letting a relationship go% In general! there has been a sense of
relief for the client 'hen they nderstand they ha&e the choice open to them
to stop 'asting their time! energy and emotional commitment on a dead8end
Another #:ic" and dirty$ &ariation in general coaching is to as" the client
Ist to lea&e their chair and loo" at #themsel&es$ from a diMerent position%
Brom the diMerent position yo can as" them to thin" abot 'hat ad&ice they
might oMer to the #self$ still in the chair% This can 'or" &ery eMecti&ely as a
stimls to a client 'ho may be feeling a bit bloc"ed or stc" at a gi&en
moment in a session% It also changes the energy! generally gi&ing the client
something of a boost to their energy le&els%
G *ilding conJdence and
positi&e resorce states
There is relati&ely little 'ritten in NLP literatre abot conJdence as an
e(plicit! separate sbIect% This to me is srprising! as conJdence seems to be at
the heart of so many isses broght by the coaching clients I see ? my
colleage coaches report similar e(periences% It is sometimes tre that conJdence
is sbsmed as a sbIect nder the general heading of #resorceflness$
or #resorce states$ in the NLP literatre% There is no dobt that
nmeros NLP approaches and techni:es can and do help to create conJdence!
bt nonetheless it seems to me that coaches are so fre:ently dealing
'ith speciJc conJdence isses in their clients that it needs attention on its
o'n as a sbIect% Perhaps 'ith an eye for this gap in the mar"et! Pal
7cLenna broght ot in -../ a self8help boo" called Instant ConJdence% This
boo" is an e(cellent! 'ell8organi<ed collection of techni:es oMered in simple
langage% It is also in itself a conJdent piece of 'or"! modelling the state of
conJdence it asserts is possible for the reader to ac:ire% 7cLenna does not go
in for lots of e(planation as to 'hy the techni:es 'or" ? he simply asserts
that they do! basing his assertions on his o'n long e(perience and learning%
Indeed! so n'edded is he to the need for lots of intellectal IstiJcations for
the boo"$s approach that he 'rites in bold at the beginning) #=o don$t ha&e
to belie&e a single 'ord I say%$ His point is that most of the isses relating to
conJdence are to do 'ith the nconscios mind ? its initial programming &ia
early e(periences! and early responses to these e(periences! that become the
template for or basic assmptions abot or sel&es and or li&es% His boo" is
a comprehensi&e programme designed to reprogramme the nconscios
mind% I ha&e no dobt the techni:es in his boo" are highly eMecti&e% I ha&e
been sing many of them! or slight &ariations of them! for years! both for my
o'n beneJt and in coaching%
Ho'e&er! in e(ecti&e coaching yo sometimes ha&e to 'in the intellectal
argment ? yo ha&e to be able to e(plain! sometimes in detail! 'hy
yo 'old li"e to try a particlar techni:e or approach 'ith a client% In
eMect! yo ha&e to create a sense of conJdence in the conscios mind of yor
client to allo' them to ha&e conJdence in yo to 'or" 'ith their nconscios
minds% In part this is abot ethics ? it is possible to go straight for the
nconscios by sing langage directed at the nconscios mind! bt this
shold ne&er be done 'ithot e(plicit agreement from the client% The client
is not #done to$ in coaching and all approaches to 'or"ing 'ith them need
open discssion as e:al partners% There is also the isse of rapport to consider
? the principles e(plored earlier in&ol&ing matching! pacing and leading%
7any e(ecti&e coaching clients "no'ingly or n"no'ingly place a high
&ale on their o'n intellectal pro'ess ? 'hich is not srprising! gi&en that
this is 'here they ha&e recei&ed! earlier in their careers! a primary sense of
sccess and re'ard% Nor is it srprising gi&en ho' society has historically
honored and re'arded intellectal achie&ement ? #cle&er$ people tend to be
loo"ed p to and respected% 3o! in order for the coach to create and maintain
rapport it is sometimes necessary to go along 'ith this ? in eMect to match at
the intellectal le&el ntil sch time as the client can be safely #paced$ and
#led$ to 'or" 'ith a sense of conJdence in the nconscios realms% There is
little point Imping the gn and introdcing 'hat are po'erfl techni:es
for reprogramming the nconscios mind if the client is intellectally resistant!
and in any case for the reasons otlined abo&e it 'old be disrespectfl
and nethical to attempt to do so%
Nonetheless! sccessfl and po'erfl e(ecti&es are no less prone to
conJdence isses than anyone else% A srprising nmber in fact report feelings
of not being #p to$ their Iobs! feeling that at some point they 'ill be
#fond ot$ ? I ha&e heard this referred to as #impostor syndrome$%
Here are some typical conJdence isses I meet in coaching senior
C conJdence in decision8ma"ing at a strategic le&el! e%g% #+o 'e as an
organi<ation try to position orsel&es as a large organi<ation oMering
generic ser&ices or as a smaller one oMering specialist ser&icesK$
C decision8ma"ing at personal le&els! sch as #+o I go for this ne' Iob
that 'ill mean my mo&ing into a ne' Jeld in 'hich I am no longer
##"ing$$ bt seen as an e(pert consltantK$
C presentation isses! sch as spea"ing in pblic or being inter&ie'ed
C dealing 'ith con2ict! for e(ample standing p for 'hat yo see as
yor rights at 'or" or dealing 'ith aggression
C dealing conJdently 'ith emotionally charged occasions! sch as
lea&ing a place of 'or" after many years 'hen yo hate goodbyes
C needing to con&ince other #important$ people that yor case or yor
proposal is the one they shold adopt
C managing or chairing crcial meetings%
3o 'hat is conJdenceK It is an abstract state in some 'ays ? 'e "no'
'hen 'e #ha&e$ it or do not #ha&e$ it bt it can be troblesome to deJne in
absolte terms% In essence the 'ord #conJdence$ itself is a nominali<ation!
that is! a category that is essentially meaningless 'ithot beha&ioral
conte(t) yo can$t #ha&e$ conJdence in a deJniti&e 'ay! yo can only #do$
conJdence! rather li"e yo don$t #ha&e$ a relationship 'ith someone in
concrete terms! yo relate to them in speciJc beha&ioral 'ays% 3o conJdence
is something 'e do rather than something 'e ha&e% As sch! conJdence has
strctres and synta( 'ithin or beha&ioral and sensory e(perience and
therefore can be learned and habitated to ? conJdence can be a habit%
It is deJnitely a #'hole person$ phenomenon% To be conJdent 'e need to
e(perience a range of states) physical! intellectal! emotional! e&en spirital%
Pal 7cLenna! in admirably ambitios langage! refers to conJdence as #a
le&el of comfort 'ith yorself that can 'ithstand the slings and arro's of
otrageos fortne and carry yo for'ard to the life of yor dreams$! and #an
attitde and approach to life that leads to sccess! moti&ation and ne'
Dhen I thin" abot circmstances in 'hich I personally feel conJdent it
seems to me that these states &ary considerably in terms of the conte(t in
'hich conJdence is needed% If I am feeling conJdent playing golf! for
e(ample! there is a particlar combination of physical control combined 'ith
rela(ation! a someho' #optimal$ state of mental alertness consisting of clarity
of thoght combined 'ith a degree of emptiness of mind! a focs on perhaps
t'o or three &erbal instrctions to the physical self% In addition! there are
speciJc focses and emphases of sensory perception% Dhen playing golf! I
"no' I am at my most conJdent 'hen my internal &oice is slo'! soft and
deep! my &isal focs becomes sharply focsed on indi&idal obIects ,and
ltimately before the shot! on the ball itself0! and I feel a sense of nhrried!
poised rela(ation% Emotionally there is optimism combined 'ith cation!
e(citement combined 'ith calm! and an nderlying sense of fll commitment
to each and e&ery shot% This "ind of state! regardless of conte(t! is
sometimes labelled as #optimm arosal$%
Dhen feeling conJdent dring a coaching session! there is a sbtly diMerent
synta( and grammar for each of these components! 'ith diMerent
emphases and se:ences% At the higher le&els of beliefs and &ales there is a
need to percei&e that I am doing the right thing at the right time in the right
place and for the right reasons% At the highest le&els of #being$! conJdence
emerges from "no'ledge of appropriate connection and alignment% 3ometimes
it is hard to separate conJdence from a range of other phenomena and
states of being% 3ometimes! too! conJdence is a component of e&en higher
states! and might be referred to as being in #2o'$ or at #pea" e(perience$ ,see
the accont of the pea" e(perience e(ercise on pp%>>>?>F0! or e&en #a state of
grace$% Academic stdies sometimes seem to s"irt rond the sbIect% Bor
e(ample! in the fascinating boo" Optimal E(perience by 7ihaly and Isabella
3elega Csi"s<entmihalyi! a psychological stdy of #2o'$ in consciosness! the
term #conJdence$ is not e&en listed in the appendi() I cold not Jnd it in the
inde(es of nmeros boo"s on NLP and coaching! either%
3o conJdence is apparently ephemeral bt! seemingly! essential% In
essence! it is an acti&e se:ence of dynamic energies and accessible states that
ha&e been labelled! or nominali<ed! as something yo can #ha&e$ or #be$% The
tric" is to be able to access it 'hen yo need it! to acti&ate the appropriate
se:ences of sensory e(perience and acti&e beha&iors that 'or" 'ell% Often!
too! 'hen yo e(amine the state 'e call conJdence it trns ot to be a 'hole
lot of other things bndled together! sch as boldness! familiarity or ease%
Nonetheless! it comes p so fre:ently in coaching that it needs to be
thoght of as an important sbIect in itself%
As a coach! yo can help yor clients 'ith their conJdence isses sing
NLP8deri&ed tools and techni:es in nmeros 'ays% This is one of the areas
'here NLP cannot lay ni:e claim to all of the helpfl "it ? it can hardly! for
e(ample! claim to ha&e in&ented some of the breathing and msclar
rela(ation techni:es! some of them thosands of years old! 'hich can form
a physical fondation for conJdent beha&ior% *t NLP is in essence the
search for #'hat 'or"s$! and coaching is the dri&e to help someone tap into
and tili<e their resorces! so it is all roc"$n$roll ? there is little to be gained for
the coach by getting into some of the sniMy debates abot 'ho in&ented 'hat
or 'ho has copyrighted 'hat%
ConJdence and strategic decision8ma"ing
Lcy 'as chief e(ecti&e of an NH3 mental health trst% A recent national
reorgani<ation had forced her to :estion the ftre shape and fnction of
her organi<ation% 6ltimately! she 'old ha&e to ma"e a decision abot 'hat
role! shape and fnction she 'anted for her organi<ation in the light of the
proposed reorgani<ations! in order that she cold begin to assemble her case
for in2encing go&ernment oNcials% In or coaching discssions! 'e mapped
ot the &arios options! considering the pros and cons of diMerent models% As
'e 'ent throgh this process! Lcy began to get increasingly edgy and to lose
energy% I ga&e her some feedbac" on this and she said she 'as losing conJdence
in her ability to ma"e a good decision becase of the comple(ity and
importance of the isses% This loss of conJdence 'as leading to other isses
for her sch as an(iety and a loss of concentration% After some discssion! she
agreed to try the techni:e of #anchoring$! and she 'as able as a reslt to
tac"le her decision in her sal forthright bold and conJdent manner%
In essence! anchoring is a 'ay of gaining access to! and being able to hold on
to! the states 'e need in order to be sccessfl in a gi&en conte(t% It 'or"s on
the same principle that is in place 'hen a sensory stimls pts s in mind of
a particlar time or conte(t from or past% Essentially! anchoring is sing a
stimls sch as a sond! image! feeling! smell or taste that gi&es s a consistent
response emotionally and e&en physically%
As I 'rite this! I ha&e Ist retrned from 'al"ing my dog in the early
e&ening late 3eptember snshine in the Ne' Borest% Dhile there! the combination
of rich reds and prples in the heather and brac"en 'ith the late
smmer sn! and a hint of chill in the bree<e! broght bac" to me many
occasions in the past! speciJcally long days in the La"e +istrict hills and! e&en
frther bac"! the frisson of mi(ed e(citement and resignation associated 'ith
the anticipation of a ne' year at school% The sensory stimls of the
particlar combinations of color and temperatre reliably e&o"e these feelings
and associations! ths #anchoring$ my state in the present to a state
dra'n from the past% =o might li"e to thin" abot some of the anchors yo
already ha&e% Ones that 'or" positi&ely for yo might inclde the follo'ing)
C a fa&orite piece of msic ,maybe #or song$0
C a particlar scent or smell
C a sensation of toch ? perhaps a particlar fabric%
Negati&e anchors
=o 'ill also almost certainly ha&e anchors that don$t 'or" for yo! or 'or"
negati&ely ? that #7onday morning feeling$ for e(ample! or a particlar
location associated 'ith a tramatic or npleasant e&ent% 7aybe Ist seeing
someone in the 2esh 'ill remind yo of pre&ios meetings that carry
npleasant memories% Remember! ho'e&er! that 'e do ha&e choices as to
ho' 'e respond to the associations that cro'd or li&es% In bilding or life
#maps$ 'e fre:ently create habital responses to certain stimli or sitations
that ha&e a negati&e eMect on s% =o might thin" no' abot the sensations
or sitations that negati&ely aMect yor mood! attitde! moti&ation ? and
conJdence% Dhat are theyK One of mine has been a disli"e of cold! brightly lit
interior spaces ? they sometimes e&o"e rather painfl feelings of abandonment
and loneliness left o&er from childhood! and perhaps too mch time
spent in hospitals% I ha&e sometimes e(perienced the eMects of this #anchoring$
in places sch as old8fashioned sports pa&ilions! connecting corridors in
hospitals and other instittional settings% Nmeros clients ha&e described
negati&e anchors ? for e(ample! feelings of dread associated 'ith ha&ing to
ma"e presentations in particlar settings! 'here the setting itself adds to the
A sefl 'ay of lessening the habital hold of these negati&e anchors is to
de&elop the habit of self8a'areness and a'areness of the present moment ? of
being #in the no'$% This is a sefl habit for nmeros reasons! bt speciJcally
in this conte(t it can gi&e yo the opportnity to feel far more in command of
any negati&e feelings or states yo may Jnd yorself in as a reslt of being
negati&ely anchored%
Positi&e anchors
Anchoring in NLP is the systematic process of dipping into the past to identify
a resorce state 'e 'ere once in that 'old be sefl to access and maintain in
the present or ftre% The assmption or prespposition for the NLP coach to
"eep in mind here is that the client has all the resorces they need ? the client
is essentially a resorcefl person e&en 'hen they are not crrently in command
of! or able to access! a resorce they need% Anchoring is a tool the coach
can se to help the client tap right bac" into the temporarily missing
I ha&e an anchor #installed$ in >A@@ that still 'or"s for me &ery 'ell) it is
an anchor for calmness and boldness 'hen I am in sitations 'here my
sometime fear of heights is a problem% The anchor is to press the Jngers and
thmbs of both hands together) this is discreet enogh to get me throgh
sitations li"e getting into high e(ternal glass lifts 'ithot attracting any fss%
This anchor has been a good friend to me for all these years! allo'ing me to
#feel the fear and do it any'ay$%
Ho' to set a conJdence anchor for yor client
I al'ays e(plain the 'hole process in otline to the client Jrst in order to gi&e
them clear signposting abot 'hat it in&ol&es! ho' long it might ta"e and so
forth% This allo's them to concentrate on the process itself 'hen it is happening!
'ithot being distracted by thoghts abot 'here it is going! or ho'
mch longer it 'ill ta"e%
I also emphasi<e to the client that I am going to need to "no' absoltely
nothing of the content of 'hat they are going to be anchoring ? the process is
all I 'ill be in&ol&ed in% This means they can be assred that the content
remains absoltely pri&ate to them! 'ith no need to interpret or e(plain to
me as coach%
I also as" them in ad&ance to select their choice of physical #anchor$% This
means a small physical action sch as pressing foreJnger and thmb together
sch as I describe abo&e! or something else e:ally discreet li"e s:ee<ing a
'rist% It is important to get this detail right) the client needs an anchor that is
sNciently distinct not to get caght p in e&eryday beha&ior bt sbtle
enogh for them to be able to se it 'hen necessary in pblic 'ithot
attracting attention% I e(plain that for the anchor to be most eMecti&ely
created it 'ill be important for them to notice 'hen the feelings of conJdence
e&o"ed are reaching their height! and to #Jre$ their anchor ,e%g% do the
pressing together of Jngers or s:ee<ing of the 'rist0 'hen the feelings are on
the rise! letting it go 'hen the feelings begin to 'ane%
C As" the client to rela(% ,This is most eMecti&e if yo simply say
something li"e #1st rela( for a fe' moments$ rather than saying #Try
to rela( for a fe' moments$ ? their mind 'ill listen to the 'ord #try$
and it 'ill become an eMort%0 7any clients instincti&ely close their
eyes at this point% I sometimes sggest this to them in fact! by saying
something li"e #7any people Jnd it sefl to close their eyes%$
C As" yor client to thin" of a time in their past 'hen they 'ere at
their most conJdent ? it can be any time they remember clearly!
from their recent past or e&en their distant past% Occasionally! clients
demr a little at this point! saying things li"e #Dell! I ne&er really
ha&e felt conJdent ? that$s 'hy I need yor help%$ A little gentle
en:iry or e&en challenge here can be appropriate ? it may be! for
e(ample! that they ha&e ignored moments in their li&es 'hen they
ha&e Ist ta"en conJdence for granted 'ithot really noticing it% I
ha&e once or t'ice as"ed people if they feel conJdent 'hen eating or
reading! for e(ample% =o cold e&en try as"ing if they are sre they
ha&e ne&er been conJdent ? sometimes the ans'er to this is an
e(tremely conJdent8sonding ,bt highly ironic0 #No$% They do not
necessarily need to ha&e e(perienced #con:ering army$ le&els of
conJdence ? Ist times 'hen a lac" of conJdence has not been an
isse may be sNcient to 'or" 'ith%
C As" them to #step into$ this time 'hen they felt at their most conJdent
and see 'hat 'as going on as if from their o'n eyes% 3ome
clients need a little prompting to get this right! and I ha&e sometimes
fond it sefl to oMer the metaphor of a Jlm in 'hich their eyes are
the camera% This in NLP terminology is referred to as an #associated$
state! 'hen they are #in$ the e(perience as opposed to a #dissociated$
state 'hen they are loo"ing at themsel&es from a distance% Associated
states are more po'erflly e(perienced and help to create a more
potent anchor%
C Help the client to get into an intensely associated state by as"ing
them to pay attention to the sights and sonds in their e(perience% It
is important to se the present tense in order to "eep the e(perience
associated% I se e(pressions li"e #Notice flly 'hat yo are seeing$ or
#*e flly a'are of the sonds yo are hearing%$ 3ometimes! if the Jlm
metaphor seems to catch on for the client! I 'ill as" them to imagine
they are able to personally direct their Jlm! creating e(actly the "ind
of :ality of sond and &ision that they most enIoy%
C As" them to notice their feeling of conJdence as they contine to
enIoy 'hat they are seeing and hearing% In&ite them to intensify the
feeling and #Jre the anchor$ ,i%e% ma"e the pre&iosly selected
physical action0 as the feelings approach their height%
C Gently in&ite them to #step ot$ of their e(perience% Clients in&ariably
enIoy 'hat yo ha&e ta"en them throgh ? after all! yo are
helping them to re8e(perience &i&idly a highly positi&e state of being%
C =o may 'ant to as" them to throgh the process again for themsel&es
? once the se:ence has been clearly established it only ta"es a
matter of seconds! and repetition can strengthen the anchor%
C As" the client to test the anchor in a ftre e(perience% Get them to
imagine that they are in a ftre sitation 'here they 'ill need
conJdence! and as they imagine themsel&es in this ftre conte(t
as" them to acti&ate the anchor% If the anchor has #caght$! they 'ill
be able to imagine themsel&es beha&ing 'ith conJdence in the
ftre sitation%
Lcy 'as able to ta"e the techni:e on board 'ith ease% I too" her throgh
the process 'ith no idea 'hatsoe&er abot the actal content of her associated
e(perience% Lcy re&erted bac" to the state she had been in before the
temporary loss of conJdence and 'e 'ere able to help her get bac" on trac"
'ith her strategic decision8ma"ing% Brthermore she had a tool she 'old be
able to se in the ftre 'hen see"ing to in2ence others regarding the
direction she 'anted her organi<ation to ta"e%
Anchoring can be sed to gather many other resorces% These inclde
corage! calmness and e&en compassion for self or others% Anchoring is a
classic e(ample of 'hen the coach 'or"s entirely 'ith the process! lea&ing all
the content isses to the client% Dhile yo ta"e the client throgh their #Jlmediting$
process yo can ha&e no idea of 'hat they are 'or"ing 'ith ?
allo'ing them! among other things! the dignity of pri&acy%
+iana and the #three demons$ of performance
ConJdence! or its lac"! can manifest itself at many le&els) physical! beha&ioral!
emotional or intellectal% One of the simplest 'ays in 'hich to begin
the process of creating conJdence is to deal 'ith some of the physical aspects%
3ometimes 'hen people are called pon to #perform$! their thin"ing sel&es
can get hiIac"ed by their physical sel&es% Bortnately it is relati&ely easy to do
something abot these hiIac"ings! bt the tric" is to be a'are enogh to ta"e
control of the sitation before the sitation ta"es control of yo ? or yor
The three demons of performance are)
C shallo' or inade:ate breathing
C e(cessi&e msclar tension
C negati&e internal &oice%
+iana 'as a client I sa' many years ago! 'hose career 'as in Ieopardy becase
her professional beha&ior 'as to a degree ot of control% 3he 'as a highly
sccessfl media editor 'hose e(treme le&els of passion for her programmes
led to stress ? she really cold not bear the thoght that her programmes
cold be anything other than perfect% This perfectionism had its #p$ sides of
corse! in terms of ensring her constant dri&e to impro&e :ality and creati&ity%
*t the serios do'nside 'as the an(iety ? argably the 2ipside of
conJdence ? created by the felt need to control e&erything and e&eryone
related to the prodction of the programme% The an(iety prodced stressP the
stress prodced blac" moods and fre:ent angry otbrsts to'ards her staM%
As a reslt there had been a nmber of complaints made abot her and there
'as a &ery real threat of her being remo&ed from her post%
7ch of or coaching 'as engaged 'ith her coming to terms 'ith the
reality of her sitation before she cold e&en begin to thin" abot doing
something abot it% The term #denial$ is one I am 'ary of sing in a coaching
conte(t becase of its psychotherapetic connotations bt it is probably
appropriate here% Initially! +iana Ist cold not see that anything 'as more
important than the programme! and felt that &irtally any beha&ior on her
part cold and shold be e(csed as long as the programme contined to be
e(cellent% De had to 'or" throgh this #I am being treated so nfairly$ agenda
before +iana cold recogni<e that conJdence 'as at the heart of the isse%
This in itself 'as signiJcant learning for +iana% 3he had a mental pictre of
herself as a strong! achie&ing person and initially it 'as ncomfortable for her
to recogni<e that there 'as a conJdence dimension to her negati&e
7y initial coaching approach 'as to in&ite +iana to loo" in detail at the
se:ence of e&ents that 'old occr in her thin"ing! her emotional state and
her physical state prior to an angry otbrst% *roadly spea"ing! the se:ence
'old go something li"e this)
C 3he 'old e(perience intellectal dissatisfaction! for e(ample abot
a graphic that in her estimation 'as not strong enogh%
C This dissatisfaction 'old prodce an emotional frstration and fear
of prodcing something belo' standard%
C The fear and frstration 'old create an(iety abot the &iability and
reptation of the programme! 'ith 'hich she 'as! in her mind!
ine(tricably identiJed%
C This 'old create a crashing fall in her conJdence state! casing
panic! anger and ths otbrsts of angry beha&ior%
In short! anything that in her &ie' 'old re2ect badly on the image of the
programme became translated &ery :ic"ly in her mind into a direct threat to
herself ? to her identity% The percei&ed attac" 'old almost simltaneosly
manifest itself physically as shallo' breathing! mscle tension and a panic"y!
shrill internal &oice predicting disaster%
This se:ence 'old progress nnoticed by her conscios mind! 'hich
'as J(ed Jrmly on the isse of the script or the pictre :ality and her
perceptions of inade:acy of those staM responsible% 6ltimately she 'old
lose control and blo' p! shoting at and threatening her staM% Dhen the
storm had blo'n o&er she 'old be calm and conJdent once more! obli&ios
to the emotional storm8damage left behind and concerned only that the
programme 'as bac" on a proper corse%
The cr( 'as that +iana 'as not a'are of all the changes happening
inside her ntil it 'as too late% De agreed that t'o steps 'ere needed to gi&e
her the opportnity to maintain her state of conJdent 'ellbeing)
>% +e&elop a habit of #chec"ing in$ 'ith herself at reglar inter&als! i%e%
to reglarly pay attention to sch things as her breathing! le&el of
mscle tension and internal &oice%
-% On the basis of the chec"8in! to ma"e 'hate&er adIstments seemed
+iana decided to 'ear a thread bracelet as an #anchor$ for conJdence! and as a
physical reminder to do the chec"8in) 'e agreed initially she 'old do this
e&ery Jfteen mintes! and gradally she felt conJdent enogh to lengthen
the inter&als bet'een the chec"8ins% 3he is still in post and her otpt is as
strong as e&er%
Internal &oice
7any of s tal" to orsel&es! thogh! than"flly! not ot lod on the 'hole%
3o habital is this self8tal" for many of s that 'e can fail to pay conscios
attention to it% =et the messages from this internal &oice often ha&e a hge
bearing on or abilities to deal 'ith sitations in the present moment% I Jrst
disco&ered this 'hile 'or"ing 'ith clients on otdoor8based leadership
programmes% Brom time to time 'e 'old engage in acti&ities sch as roc"climbing
or high ropes corses% Client safety 'as of corse absoltely garanteed
on these acti&ities! bt nonetheless from time to time someone 'old
panic as the perception of danger! cased by e(posre to height! o&ertoo"
them% I cold trly empathi<e 'ith these clients as I sometimes strggled to
control my o'n fear of heights! as described earlier% Imagine! then! someone
gripping a roc"8face some t'enty or thirty feet abo&e the grond! nable to
mo&e p or do'n! eMecti&ely fro<en 'ith fear% 7y Iob 'old be to coach
them do'n! and a typical dialoge might go li"e this)
7E) Can yo hear meK ,I had learned that clients 'ere sometimes so
deafened by their internal &oice that they 'ere obli&ios to the
otside 'orld%0
CLIENT) ,in stranglated &oice0) =es % % %
7E) Are yo breathingK
CLIENT) ,in e&en more stranglated &oice0) No% % %
7E) 3o breathe % % % ta"e some really deep breaths% OL % % % ho' tense
are yor mscles right no'K
CLIENT) ,slightly less stranglated0) 5ery % % % I thin" I$m going to slip%
7E) 1st be a'are yo can$t fall ? if yo slip 'e$ll hold yo on the
rope% =o$re completely safe! OLK OLK
7E) 3o Ist let yor 'eight settle on yor feet and legs% Dhen yo
are ready yo can ta"e one arm oM and gi&e it a sha"e% Then the
other one% Good% No'! 'hat are yo saying to yorself inside
yor headK
CLIENT) I$m going to fall ? I might dieQ
7E) OL! so say to yorself no' #I am completely safe and I 'ill be
bac" on the grond in a fe' mintes%$
7E) OL! so "eep breathing! stay rela(ed and "eep telling yorself
yo 'ill be able to get yorself do'n safely% No'! listen to
me% % %
At this point I 'old be able to gi&e the client tips and direct instrctions as to
'here to pt their hands and feet in order to ma"e their 'ay do'n% This
'old not ha&e been possible had the client still been listening to their
negati&e inner &oice%
The inner &oice acts as a direct command% If yo say to yorself yo
cannot do something! it is &irtally garanteed that yo 'ill indeed be
incapable% If yo say to yorself yo can do something! yo pt yorself in a
state 'here sccess is possible ,thogh! sadly! not absoltely garanteed0%
Paying attention to the internal &oice pts yo in a position to assert some
control o&er the rest of yor state% Bor e(ample! I ha&e 'or"ed 'ith many
clients 'ho 'anted to impro&e their presentation s"ills% Often! the critical
positi&e diMerence in their conJdence has been the moment 'hen they
reali<e they ha&e a choice 'hether to listen to the internal &oice saying
something li"e #They 'ill all hate me! and I 'ill dry p$ or! instead! deliberately
to choose to say something more positi&e as a message to themsel&es!
li"e #I really "no' my stM and they 'ill 'ant me to do 'ell%$
3&en8GoUran Eri"sson! the former England football coach! describes ho'
he teaches this techni:e to his players for se 'hen they ha&e a particlarly
diNclt! an(iety8pro&o"ing J(tre% His approach is to gi&e his players a "ind
of litany to repeat to themsel&es Ist prior to the game! something li"e #I can
do this! I 'ant to do this! and I$m going to gi&e it my &ery best shot%$
Ths! a'areness of internal &oice! le&els of mscle tension and breathing
,the #three demons$ of performance0! follo'ed by direct rectifying action! can
be the e(press8speed "ey to nloc"ing and releasing natral physical and
mental conJdence% The apparent simplicity of this approach does not pre&ent
it from being able to correct negati&es in these three areas &ery :ic"ly and
eMecti&ely) 'ith practice a 'holesale change of state might ta"e only ten
seconds or so%
Peter and the need to be spontaneos) the #ndge on
the tiller$ approach
Peter 'as a chief e(ecti&e 'ith a particlar leadership challenge) he 'anted
to con&ey conJdence to those arond him and be more inspirational% He 'as
already regarded as a highly competent and reliable manager! bt throgh
coaching reali<ed that his real ambition 'as to raise his performance as a
leader to the point 'here his personal e(ample 'old create dri&e! conJdence
and e&en daring in others% He 'anted to bring spontaneos 2air to his leadership
to add to his impeccable organi<ational and strategic thin"ing s"ills%
=et Peter 'as in appearance and beha&ior as conser&ati&e and measred a
Jgre as it 'as possible to imagine% He li&ed an e(tremely ordered life both at
'or" and in the home! follo'ing a &ery strict timetable and pattern in both
As part of the coaching 'e e(plored 'hat this nsal degree of orderliness
'as doing for him! and it transpired that he had de&eloped these habits
as a 'ay of reasserting control o&er his life after a life8threatening illness%
Ho'e&er! Peter recogni<ed that for him to reach the ne(t le&el of leadership
s"ill he had to shed beha&iors that cold at times ma"e him appear an(ios!
nerotic and o&er8controlled to his managers and staM% De began to discss
'ays in 'hich he cold #loosen the ties$% This 'as a metaphor that arose ot
of or discssion ? it emerged as 'e 'ere tal"ing abot his pristine dress
sense% Or con&ersation helped Peter to recogni<e that his manner of dress
'as part of an o&erall pattern of o&er8control% One of the things that emerged!
albeit as a light8hearted theme! 'as 'hether Peter 'old be prepared! dring
the hors of 'or"! literally to loosen his tie% Peter initially arri&ed dressed
'ith immaclate formality! and initially I dressed to match himP bt as the
theme of #loosening p$ de&eloped I began to arri&e for the sessions dressed
more and more informally ? deliberately aiming to send a message that a
degree of informality did not e:ate to chaos% One day it happened ? Peter
ndid his tie and loosened the "not perhaps three8:arters of an inch% De
both laghed! "no'ing it 'as a signiJcant moment! and Peter himself
e&entally sa' it as symbolic of his readiness to ma"e a change%
Ho'e&er! Peter made it clear that he felt &ery catios abot rela(ing to
any mar"ed degree at 'or" ntil he 'as con&inced it 'old be someho' #safe$
to do so% Or earlier discssions had established that he felt personally as 'ell
as professionally secre 'ithin the bondaries of a &ery ordered regime% De
began to e(plore ho' he might e(periment 'ith more safety at home! bt as
e&ery a&ene of possibility opened! Peter tended to close it do'n again%
E&entally I challenged his commitment to change! and Peter Jnally agreed
to a radical e(periment% He 'old ha&e his e&ening glass of 'ine at Apm
rather than >.pm as he ,and his 'ife0 had done for decades%
Peter reported bac" that this change had achie&ed t'o deJnite reslts ?
Jrst! a reali<ation that he really did not need sch a stranglating schedle in
order to sr&i&e and a&oid loss of control! and second! a mch happier 'ife%
Peter 'ent on to loosen p a lot at home! to the gratiJcation of his family!
and 'e Jnished or allotted sessions 'ith a plan for him to e(tend his
beha&ior to his 'or"ing practices%
The "ey point of Peter$s story is that people often need to ma"e change by
small increments) conJdence is de&eloped by the creation of little &ictories ? a
sccession of small bt indisptable e(amples of positi&e beha&ior change
leading to the habits of conJdence% As Aristotle said! #De are 'hat 'e
repeatedly do% E(cellence then is not an act! bt a habit%$
A sefl analogy is that of the giant oil sper8tan"er! long cited as an
e(ample of inertia in organi<ational change management seminars% #Trying to
change this organi<ation is li"e trying to trn rond an oil8tan"er at sea$ is the
oft8heard cry% *t oil tan"ers do of corse trn rond at sea! despite their hge
momentm and inertia% The tric" is not to try to trn them by main force! bt
to apply energy to a small section of the rdder that can in trn mo&e the
'hole rdder! 'hich in trn mo&es the ship arond in the desired direction%
The coach can help the client deJne the degree of trn that is tolerable to
them and that does not re:ire an o&er'helming eMort% This #ndge on the
tiller$ approach has helped nmeros clients 'ho 'ant to feel their 'ay
catiosly to change) 'ho are not necessarily in any real crisis bt 'ho
recogni<e that things cold be better and more satisfying% *y trying ot ne'
beha&iors in small doses they create in their o'n mind the conditions for
gradal bt sstainable change%
Another e(ample of this principle in action 'as Pal! a cle&er academic
'ho labelled himself and his life as #chaotic$% He had achie&ed a good le&el of
personal sccess bt 'as some'hat 'eighed do'n by the eMort entailed by
his lac" of personal organi<ation% In some 'ays his presentation of self and
the pictre he described of his life 'as consistent 'ith poplar &ie's of the
#eccentric professor$ ? an oNce fll of piles of paper! some'hat n"empt
personal appearance and hge disorgani<ation on both the personal and
professional fronts% His #ndge on the tiller$ 'as to go a'ay and tidy p a
chest of dra'ers% 3bse:ent sessions identiJed frther small bt signiJcant
changes to his le&el of organi<ation! ntil he reached a threshold of belief in
himself as someone 'ho cold conJdently manage himself as opposed to
someone 'ho felt scared and ot of control%
Positi&e &isali<ation) opening the batting for Astralia
Try this simple e(periment% Ta"e a small personal beha&ior yo might li"e to
change! for e(ample being too physically tense in yor sholders and nec"%
7entally rehearse a change in t'o diMerent 'ays)
>% Concentrate hard on being less tense ? try as hard as yo can to rela(%
-% Imagine yorself feeling soothed and rela(ed! as a deep sense of ease
eMortlessly 2o's into yo%
Dhich phraseology is more eMecti&e in prodcing rela(ationK I remember at
antenatal classes dtiflly Ioining in the rela(ation e(ercises along 'ith the
mms8to8be and other rather a'"'ard8feeling dads% The nrse in charge
'old get s to lie do'n on the 2oor and then instrct s! in a &oice that
cold strip 'allpaper! to #Try to rela(Q$ The eMect 'as to send shoc"8'a&es of
tension into my system%
5isali<ation and mental rehearsal techni:es are by no means ni:e to
NLP! bt NLP can 'or" to a le&el of precision in the langage that can prodce
particlarly po'erfl reslts% NLP has dra'n ot many practical beneJts
from lingistic theory that create a direct impact on resorceflness% A &ery
simple e(ample is the 'ay in 'hich NLP has taght emphasis on &isali<ing
'hat someone really 'ants as opposed to &isali<ing 'hat they don$t 'ant%
3ome years ago on T5 there 'as an inter&ie' 'ith an Astralian opening
batsman 'ho spo"e fran"ly abot his catastrophic decline in form and sbse:ent
reco&ery% He e(plained ho' he had lost conJdence in his techni:e in
facing certain types of bo'ling% In an eMort to o&ercome this he had
embar"ed on a regime of mental rehearsal techni:es% 6nfortnately his form
got e&en 'orse and he fond himself repeating the same erroneos shots
more and more fre:ently% E&entally he reali<ed he had been mentally
rehearsing trying not to play the erroneos shots% In so doing he had cased his
mind inad&ertently to rehearse the &ery shots he did not 'ant to play! in order
to imagine not playing them% As Pal 7cLenna says! #7ost people ha&e spent
their li&es practising stopping themsel&es from going for 'hat they 'ant and
then beating themsel&es p abot doing sch a good Iob of it%$
Dhen sing &isali<ation techni:es in NLP coaching! the aim is al'ays
mentally to rehearse sccessfl otcomes sing positi&e mental rehearsal%
Ths! 'hen a client comes to me see"ing help 'ith! for e(ample! an(ieties
abot a forthcoming important speech they ha&e to ma"e! or a critical
meeting they ha&e to chair! one approach open to me is to help them create a
mental rehearsal in 'hich they 'old imagine themsel&es scceeding! as
opposed to imagining trying not to fail% I simply as" them to imagine
themsel&es in the act of spea"ing at their &ery best! 'ith all the associated
feelings of conJdence in place% I as" them to notice speciJc things abot Ist
'hat they are &isali<ing ? 'hat their postre is li"e! 'hat their facial
e(pression is li"e! ho' they are standing! and so forth% I also as" them to
imagine 'hat their &oice sonds li"e! and e&en 'hat their internal &oice
'old be saying in their imagined conJdent state% If necessary 'e might add
a conJdence #anchor$%
ConJdence and the coach
ConJdence is one of the "ey resorce states that clients often feel they lac"
'hen facing challenging sitations% Ho'e&er! it is not the only resorce state
that can go temporarily missing% The "ey for the coach is to hold on to their
o'n belief that the needed resorce state can be fond% This can be challenging
for the coach 'hen a client presents as! for e(ample! ner&os or
afraid% Bor ine(perienced coaches there is sometimes a danger of getting
infected by the client$s crrent negati&e mood or beha&ior ? in eMect! letting
the client lead yo and yor resorceflness do'nhill% It is sefl at times li"e
this to remember that yo are 'or"ing in partnership 'ith the client ? it is
not yor sole responsibility to sol&e all their isses%
*oth NLP in particlar and coaching in general hold as a primary principle
that the client is a resorcefl person! and one of the most eMecti&e 'ays
coaches can help to bring this abot is by modelling conJdence in their o'n
being% This might mean yor learning to anchor yor o'n resorce states in
order to be able positi&ely to in2ence the client% Langage is another "ey part
of this! and it is essential to se langage that assmes sccess for the client% As
a coach yo shold a&oid sing langage that in some 'ay colldes 'ith the
client$s fears and #stc"ness$% 3o! instead of saying something li"e #Gosh! that
does sond 'orrying ? let$s try to Jnd a 'ay for'ard$ ,implying that it 'ill be
diNclt and hard 'or"0! say #I can see this has been 'orrying yo in the past!
so let$s loo" at the ne(t steps for'ard to 'hen yo are going to be sccessfl$
,implying that sccess is assmed and the road to it has already begn0%
=o 'ill Jnd yo can beneJt from being coached yorself in ho' to be
resorcefl for yor clients% Coaches are not sperhman and 'e need
coaching too% 3per&ision of yor coaching is a mst%
I ha&e also fond it sefl to se some of the NLP coaching techni:es on
myself% 3peciJcally! I ha&e fond a self8applied meta8mirror ,see Chapter E0
e(tremely sefl 'hen anticipating a particlarly challenging client% Ha&ing
practised the meta8mirror so many times! I no' Jnd it easy to do it :ic"ly
Ist in my head% I collect my feelings abot the client! imagine being the
client loo"ing at me and ho' they might be feeling! ta"e a detached &ie' to
allo' myself the opportnity to create an otcome focs! and then :ic"ly
rn throgh the forth position script Ist to get myself #resorced p$ for the
session% A simple &ariation on this is to imagine that there is a some'hat
more conJdent #yo$ sitting or standing some distance a'ay from yo% This
#yo$ might loo" a little diMerent! perhaps 'ith conJdence e(pressed throgh
a diMerent loo" in the eyes or set of the sholders% =o can practise #stepping
into$ the more conJdent yo and e(periencing ho' the 'orld loo"s and feels%
Repeat 'ith e&er more conJdent &ersions of yorself as re:ired%
3ometimes I add a physical dimension to gathering conJdenceP in this
case all I do is centre my body! lo'ering the 'eight that can sometimes shift
p'ards along 'ith sholder tension% I also pay attention to the internal
&oice! ensring that it sonds slo'! calm and deep% The eMect is to ma"e me
feel more balanced! focsed and calm% In cases of real ner&es! than"flly fe'
and far bet'een these days! I might gi&e myself a positi&e mental command
along the lines of #I can do this! and I 'ant to do this! and it 'ill go 'ell%$
/ Helping the client get the most
from their life and career
3ome years ago or company! 7anagement Btres Ltd! 'as holding an
open day in London% Among the e&ents of the day! 'e 'anted to sho'case
or coaching approach% As a part of this I oMered to coach anyone in the
adience for t'enty mintes on the promise of a free and conJdential t'ohor
session to follo' as re'ard% 6p stepped a &olnteer! a distingishedloo"ing
man% I as"ed him 'hat he 'old li"e to be coached on! careflly
emphasi<ing that 'e 'ere in front of a large grop and only had t'enty
mintes at or disposal%
#Dell!$ he said! #I$m /> and I don$t "no' 'hat to do 'ith the rest of my
life%$ I blin"ed a bit and as"ed him 'hat he did for a li&ing%
#I$m a professor of strategic management at T ni&ersity!$ he replied%
#I 'onder if there are any resorces yo se in yor Iob that yo might
apply in thin"ing abot this isseK$ I as"ed%
#Aha % % %$ he said! as the light blb came on% De 'ent on to loo" at 'hat
tools of strategic thin"ing might help him speciJcally to thin" abot his life%
This 'as a beatifl e(ample of the coaching belief that the client is a
resorcefl person combined 'ith the NLP prespposition that people ha&e
all the resorces necessary to ma"e any desired change%
Althogh the circmstances abo&e cold be described as dramatic! the
isse itself 'as not nsal% De ha&e coached hndreds of senior managers
'ith isses sch as the follo'ing)
C reaching a milestone birthday ,often 'ith a G or a . in it0! or a career
milestone! e%g% t'enty8J&e years in the same organi<ation! and
e(periencing this as a trigger for a careerOlife rethin"
C facing a test of ner&e or commitment! sch as 'anting to branch ot
into a ne' career or lea&e a Iob and start a ne' bsiness
C concerns that their present Iob is not meeting their ideals or core
&ales and is therefore oMering them less flJlment
C feeling that in some 'ay they ha&e not got 'hat it ta"es to ma"e the
career progress they 'ant! e%g% that they lac" some s"ill! capability or
personal :ality
C simply not "no'ing 'hat they 'ant ot of the rest of their career
and therefore being nclear in focs
C 'anting to rethin" their career in the face of a change in their personal
It is often the case that these isses in&ol&e comple( combinations of factors!
creating a degree of confsion and ncertainty for the client% There is &ery
rarely in coaching a sitation 'here a client comes in and states their isse
and the coach smartly and straightfor'ardly deals 'ith it 'ith a single
inter&ention or miracle techni:e% 7agic bllets are fe' and far bet'een in
coaching% Therefore the techni:es oMered belo' 'ill rarely be sed in isolation
or e&en in simple combination 'ith each other! bt form part of an
o&erall coaching approach 'ith a &ariety of techni:es dra'n from NLP and
from &arios other sorces% This is! to repeat! tre of all the other descriptions
of NLP techni:es otlined in other chapters% The intention here is to oMer
tools yo can se 2e(ibly%
*enIamin 'as a client 'ho decided to commit himself to an e(tensi&e
programme of coaching in order to allo' him to ta"e stoc" and ma"e progress
in his 'or" and life in general% *enIamin described his isses broadly as
C dissatisfaction in crrent role as a specialist trainer in a local
athority department ? feeling conJned and restricted by the specialist
role and generally nspported by his manager
C aspiration to set p his o'n training bsiness focsing on management
C a 'ish to ma"e some important lifestyle changes! inclding bying a
hose near the coast%
6nderlying these isses 'ere deep fears% His father had al'ays li&ed 'ithin
tight Jnancial constraints and *enIamin 'as deeply an(ios abot the
prospects of an impo&erished old age% Althogh only E.! he 'as tremendosly
concerned abot the idea that he might 'ea"en his pension
entitlements and ths Ieopardi<e ftre secrity% At the same time! he :estioned
his o'n ability to bild a sccessfl bsiness% *enIamin 'as an intelligent
man 'ith broad and deep "no'ledge of the management de&elopment
Jeld% He also had many of the personal attribtes that ma"e a good management
de&elopment trainer ? he 'as articlate! emotionally intelligent and
had presence! as 'ell as a passion for the sbIect% In short! there seemed no
con&incing presenting reason that he shold not achie&e sccess in the
bsiness as a freelance trainer! one of his most important goals%
As 'e discssed his crrent 'or" circmstances! he seemed miserably
frstrated and nflJlled in his crrent role% Not only that! he 'as Jnancially
frstrated! nable to aMord to ma"e the progress he 'anted in the hosing
mar"et% His bsiness plan seemed credible and thorogh! yet for many
months he had been nable to bring himself to commit to lea&ing 'or" and
gi&ing the bsiness a go% E&en 'hen he managed to pt in place a deal 'ith
his employers to garantee enogh income to meet his basic secrity needs
on a part8time basis! he contined to pre&aricate abot ta"ing the bsiness
*enIamin$s isses 'ere comple(% De 'or"ed together for se&eral sessions!
e(ploring his life and its lessons for him! nra&elling the isses! clarifying his
'or" and life goals! bilding a &ision of sccess! strengthening his commitment
to his professional and personal &ales% De also loo"ed at potential
sabotage factors! both e(ternal! in terms of bsiness isses! and internal! in
terms of dobts! 'orries and potential self8sabotaging beha&iors and
thoght patterns% In short! 'e sed a 'ide range of techni:es both NLP and
non8NLP deri&ed on his isses! bt there 'as to be no single brea"throgh
techni:e! no miracle soltion%
This is sometimes the case in coaching ? sometimes the patterns of
thoght! habits and beliefs that clients ha&e bilt p o&er the decades of their
li&es are highly tenacios and operate #ndergrond$! i%e% beneath the srface
of the client$s intellectal processing% It can ta"e persistence and resorceflness
on the part of both coach and client to bear the frstration of ma"ing
'hat can seem at times tortosly slo' progress%
Ho'e&er! in this case progress 'e e&entally made! and 'hen 'e
re&ie'ed all of this 'or" t'o techni:es dra'n from NLP seemed to ha&e
particlar impact for *enIamin% One is concerned 'ith spotting assmptions
and presppositions that contribte to self8limiting beliefs and the other 'ith
clarifying goals in a systematic and #ecological$ 'ay! often referred to in NLP
as 'ell8formed otcomes%
Dor"ing 'ith 'ell8formed otcomes
As 'ith most NLP techni:es! if yo read ten boo"s yo 'ill get ten slightly
diMerent &ersions of the method% This is Jne by me ? in the end! NLP has to be
o'ned by the ser% I 'as Jrst taght this process in >A@@ and ha&e modiJed it
slightly since% Nmeros clients and stdents ha&e commented on ho' sefl
they fond the criss8cross frame'or") Jrst! becase it gi&es them something
&isally memorable! and second! becase it allo's them to se the format
2e(ibly and in se:ence 'ith their o'n thoghts! as opposed to follo'ing a
list or some other rigid strctre%
The essence of this simple model is that by sing it! indi&idals get the
opportnity to deJne a goal or otcome for themsel&es that stands a good
chance of 'or"ing becase it has been &ery thoroghly thoght throgh and
tested% Consider the opposite phenomenon% It is Ne' =ear$s E&e and yo
decide that this is going to be the year yo lose 'eightOgi&e p smo"ingOta"e
p rnningOread all of 3ha"espeare! etc% Ho' many of these resoltions last
more than a fe' daysK The "ey point here is that for clients in coaching to
ma"e real progress they need more than Ist a 'ish list or #fool$s goals$
,pardon the pn0% Indeed! encoraging clients to deJne goals in anything
other than a rigorosly thoght8throgh 'ay can actally be doing them a
disser&ice! as in follo'ing these poorly deJned goals they ris" disappointment!
disillsionment and a conse:ent fall8oM in moti&ation% Coaching
sessions are in&ariably f<<y and nfocsed nless really clear otcomes and
goals are established% It is also tre that as the isses relating to these goals
and otcomes are discssed in depth dring coaching they can change) the
coach needs to be ready to redeJne otcomes as the client learns more dring
the coaching process% This clear focs is one of the things that distingishes
coaching from mch psychotherapy and conselling 'here the emphasis is
more on creating an e(ploratory process%
Let$s loo" at a scenario 'here a client is trying to get clarity on an
important goal% I Jnd it particlarly helpfl to dra' ot the frame'or" in
Bigre /%>%
I then tal" throgh the frame'or" in general terms to bild their familiarity
'ith it! and then tal" throgh their goal or otcome frame by frame%
Other than beginning in the top left bo(! there is no set order in 'hich the
bo(es need to be &isited ? a factor that ma"es for 2e(ibility and ease of se%
*o( > ,top left0 this is almost al'ays the place to begin becase it as"s the
client to deJne their goal in positi&e terms% This is not Ist abot being gngho%
It is far more compelling and po'erfl to deJne 'hat yo do 'ant rather
than 'hat yo don$t 'ant% Bor e(ample! if yor otcome is e(pressed as
#losing 'eight$ then yor mind 'ill atomatically focs on yor 'eight! i%e%
'ill reinforce the negati&e! the &ery thing yo 'ant to change% ,If yo 'old
li"e an e(ample of ho' the brain 'or"s li"e this! try saying to yorself #I 'ill
not thin" of pin" elephants$ and see 'hat happens%0
Ta"e a moment to thin" abot something yo percei&e as a problem at
'or"% In sing this e(ercise o&er the past eighteen years I ha&e yet to
enconter a single indi&idal 'ho cannot do this% De ha&e no problems
being problem8focsed! it seems% No' as" yorself the follo'ing :estions
abot this problem! and notice yor response! not Ist intellectally! bt in
terms of yor personal resorceflness! e%g% ho' empo'ered or moti&ated
yo feel to deal sccessflly 'ith the problem)
C Dhose falt is itK
C Dhy ha&en$t yo sol&ed it yetK
C Dhat barriers are in the 'ayK
C Dhat limitations do yo ha&e as a person in sol&ing thisK
C Dhat are the forces otside yor control that are conspiring against
C Dhat other problem is this problem casingK
C Dhat are the negati&e "noc"8on eMectsK
C Dhat is ha&ing this problem saying abot yo as a professionalK As a
Ho' did yo respondK +isregard the content of yor ans'ers for a moment
and focs on the feelings they e&o"ed% If yor response is to leap into action!
energi<ed! conJdent and moti&ated! my e(perience of 'or"ing 'ith clients
'ith these :estions sggests yo are in a &ery small minority% These :estions
are in essence problem focsed) and for many of s! mch of the time!
problem focs becomes failre focs%
No' thin" abot the &ery same isse! and ans'er the follo'ing :estions!
again noticing the eMect pon yor energy! conJdence and moti&ation)
C In respect of this isse! 'hat do yo most 'antK
Bigre /%>
C Dhat 'ill getting 'hat yo 'ant do for yoK
C Dhat positi&e "noc"8on eMects 'ill there beK
C Ho' 'ill yo "no' yo ha&e achie&ed 'hat yo 'antK Dhat 'ill the
e&idence be! especially in 'hat yo 'ill be seeing! hearing and
feeling! both inside and otside yorselfK
C Dhat resorces do yo ha&e as a person that 'ill help yo get 'hat
yo 'antK Thin" abot ho' yo ha&e scceeded in the past%
C Dhat 'ill getting 'hat yo 'ant say abot yo as a professionalK As
a personK
C Dhat is the ne(t simple step yo can ta"e in getting 'hat yo 'antK
C Dhen 'ill yo ta"e itK
Notice the diMerence in the responses yo get 'ithin yorself ? and ho'
mch more positi&e and empo'ering they are% E&eryone responds slightly
diMerently to these :estions bt it is my o&er'helming e(perience that the
otcome or sccess8focsed :estions are a lanch pad for at least the possibility
of ta"ing some action! ho'e&er small! to'ards the goal% ,An interesting
side8eMect of as"ing the t'o diMerent types of :estions is that many
people notice that the problem changes in sensory terms! sometimes in terms
of si<e! shape or color! at other times in terms of feelings or sonds! e&en
smell and taste% This in itself changes people$s response to the isse as they
Jrst concei&ed it%0
In deJning yor otcome as! for e(ample! #becoming slim and Jt$! yo
start to focs the mind on 'hat yo actally do 'ant% An e(ample from a
bsiness conte(t might be an initial negati&ely e(pressed goal of #3top arging
'ith my colleage$ to be reformlated positi&ely as #I 'ant to ha&e mch
more prodcti&e discssions 'ith my colleage%$
To deJne an isse in terms of otcome rather than problem is to create
the beginnings of conditions for sccess) ho'e&er! as many optimists ha&e
fond! this in itself is not sNcient! so 'e need to mo&e on to each of the
other bo(es to create trly 'ell8formlated otcomes%
*o( - ,top centre0 is often the ne(t bo( to go to becase it in&ites yo to
deJne clear e&idence for yor goal$s being achie&ed% In deJning otcomes that
do not ha&e clear! :antiJable e&idence this is particlarly important becase
it crystalli<es for the mind e(actly 'hat yo are going for% 3peciJcally! it is
important to create sensory e&idence for sccess) literally! ho' sccess 'ill
loo"! sond and feel ? e&en ho' it 'ill smell and tasteQ Other'ise! all the
mind 'ill ha&e is a concept or idea 'ithot anything compelling to attract it%
The more e&idence for sccess yo are able to describe! the more compelling it
'ill be% A good e(ample might be that of a manager I 'or"ed 'ith 'ho
'anted her team to be #more cohesi&e and positi&e$% I encoraged her to thin"
abot 'hat she 'old actally be seeing! hearing and feeling that 'old
enable her to "no' that that 'as ho' the team 'old be beha&ing% 3he
described things li"e seeing the team spending more time discssing things
together! and people being able to oMer feedbac" and e&en criticism in an
open 'ay% These descriptions made it mch easier for her to commnicate
'hat she really 'anted to her team%
*o( F ,top right0 is abot the degree of control yo ha&e personally in
achie&ing yor otcome% There is little point in committing to otcomes o&er
'hich yo ha&e little control ? indeed this is a recipe for disappointment and
redced ftre moti&ation% 3etting as an otcome becoming yonger! taller
and more handsome! for e(ample! is doomed to failre ? I "no' this for sre
ha&ing tried for it many times% If yor otcome in&ol&es other people in any
'ay it is important to 'eigh p Ist ho' mch yo can personally be
responsible for starting and maintaining progress to'ards it%
*o( E ,centre bo(0 is abot conte(t for yor otcome% Dhere and 'hen
and 'ith 'hom do yo 'ant yor otcomeK Are yo clear too abot any
potential "noc"8on eMects for yor otcome in other areas of yor life ? does
it Jt the o&erall ecology of yor life in a healthy 'ayK It is also important to
"no' in 'hat conte(ts yor otcome is not 'anted% Bor e(ample! if a client
decides they 'ant to do mch more delegation of 'or"! it is important for
them to chec" Ist 'here the limits of this are ? inclding considering Ist
ho' mch delegation is really appropriate! and to 'hom! and of 'hat natre%
*o( G ,centre left0 brings into focs something &ery practical indeed ?
money% It is srprising ho' many otcomes in&ol&e some "ind of Jnancial
dimension or implication! and this bo( in&ites yo to consider this area
careflly before committing to prsing a particlar otcome% It can be sefl
to cross8chec" 'ith the centre bo( ,conte(t0! for e(ample as"ing ho' the
Jnancial implications of yor proposed otcome might aMect the &arios
conte(ts of yor life ? is yor otcome Jnancially ecologicalK
*o( / ,bottom left0 relates to time factors% It is more than a #by 'hen 'ill
this otcome be achie&edK$ bo( ? it reminds yo to consider ho' mch time
yor otcome might ta"e and 'hether this is ecological in the conte(t of yor
o&erall goals% =o may decide! for e(ample! to learn a foreign langage) all the
other bo(es seem to 'or" throgh 'ithot any problems and then yo chec"
ot the time bo(! only to reali<e that yo 'old need to spend an hor a day
to achie&e yor goal ? Ist 'hen yo ha&e started redecorating the hose% =o
may decide to defer the langage proIect for a cople of months ntil yo can
gi&e it the time it needs%
*o( 4 ,bottom centre0 in&ites yo to consider the o&erall 'orthiness or
'orth'hileness of yor goals% This might inclde! for e(ample! the amont of
eMort it is 'orth ptting into prsing a particlar otcome% Is it important
enogh in the conte(t of e&erything else yo are trying to achie&eK +oes it
do&etail 'ell 'ith other otcomesK Is it really 'orthy of all the eMort it might
*o( @ ,bottom right0 is a chec" on personal &ales% +oes this otcome feel
rightK Is it consistent 'ith 'ho I am and 'ho I 'ant to beK Are there any
con2icts in &ales created by the prsit of this particlar otcomeK In short!
does it re2ect me as I 'ant to beK
A great 'ay for the coach to chec" ot the le&el of congrence a client
might ha&e 'ith their stated goal is to chec" ot their body langage as they
consider this bo(! and indeed as they 'or" throgh the frame'or" in general%
=o might loo" ot for signs of dobt or discomfort in the body langage!
and at the general energy le&el or le&el of enthsiasm the client is displaying%
3hold yo ha&e any dobts in this area yo might seflly oMer them to the
client sing the #feedbac" in the here and no'$ techni:e ? describing their
beha&ior and its impact on yo% It is particlarly important not to let yor
obser&ations or impressions go nheeded by yo or yor client here! as the
otcomes to 'hich they are committing really need to feel right for them in
all dimensions of their being if they are going to 'or" for them%
*o( A ,centre right0 is important and one of the most potent parts of the
'ell8formed otcome process% It in&ites yo to consider ,a0 'hat yo might
stand to lose if yo are sccessfl in yor otcome! and ,b0 'hat yo might get
ot of not achie&ing it% 7ost change incrs some "ind of loss! no matter ho'
desirable the change is% I can thin" of nmeros e(amples of this from
coaching 'here! let$s say! someone achie&es their goal of the big promotion
only to Jnd themsel&es o&er8challenged! o&er'or"ed and in a &ery diMerent
set of relationships 'ith their former peers! and Jnd themsel&es miserable as a
reslt% On the other side of the coin! it is often the case that 'hat is stopping
yo ma"ing a change is the fact that yo are getting a lot ot of staying Ist as
yo are% Bor e(ample! someone 'ho says they 'ant to arge less 'ith their
spose may! on deeper e(amination! reali<e that the reason they arge is that
they enIoy the drama and the attention they are getting% In these cases it can
be important for the coach to discss 'ith the client ho' else they might get
these important needs met in order that they can prse progress to'ards
their desired otcome% In any case! it is imperati&e that the do'nsides of
getting 'hat yo 'ant are flly 'eighed in the balanceP other'ise! yo may
Jnd yorself nconsciosly sabotaging progress to'ards yor goal%
As a coach yo can se this method to help clients clarify goals that are really
'orth comitting to% =o 'ill be pro&iding the process frame'or" and the
encoragementP the client 'ill pro&ide all the content ? the thoghts! feelings!
pictres and sonds that embody their goals%
As 'ith most NLP! and indeed most coaching! the coach needs to "no'
little or nothing abot this content% An additional beneJt of this is that the
client is able to consider their personal content in pri&ate! 'ith no pressre
'hatsoe&er to disclose the thoghts! feelings! pictres! sonds! etc% 'ith
'hich they are 'or"ing% Bor e(ample! 'hen ta"ing the client throgh bo( -!
the bo( that in&ites the client to consider the e&idence they 'old loo" for to
"no' their otcome had been achie&ed! all the coach really needs to do is
ma"e the sggestion that the client shold see! hear and feel 'hat they 'old
'ant to be happening) there is no need for the client to #report bac"$ to the
coach in detail% This dignity of pri&acy in itself is a hgely beneJcial part of
coaching! and especially coaching 'ith NLP% All clients hold things bac" from
their coach! for a &ariety of reasons! and pressre from the coach to disclose or
re&eal 'hat may be sensiti&e content is li"ely to lead to defensi&eness of one
sort or another on the part of the client%
Physical dimensions of an otcomeOsccess focs
Otcome focs is not Ist abot the 'ords the coach ses% The 'ords are only
part of the interacti&e mindObodyOspirit combination that forms or being%
Here is an e(ercise yo can try for yorself%
Thin" of a crrent 'or" problem) thin" of it! for the time being! deliberately
as a problem! as"ing all the problem8focsed :estions otlined abo&e
? the ones beginning 'ith #Dhose falt is itK$ As yo as" yorself these
:estions! allo' yor body to shift into a problem8framed state ? perhaps yo
might sit in a slmped position! loo"ing do'n to the 2oor% Notice as yo as"
and ans'er these :estions ho' the problem loo"s! sonds and feels inside
yor head%
Ne(t! go otside and start 'al"ing% As yo 'al"! coach yorself into a
state of really positi&e 'al"ing ? as close to perfect as yo can ma"e it% Things
to 'or" 'ith in this self8coaching might inclde attention to postre!
rhythm! pace! "eeping yor head p! arm8s'inging and so forth% The point is
to 'al" in a 'ay that yo Idge to be optimal for yorself%
Dhen yo thin" yor 'al" cannot be impro&ed pon! re&isit the problem
yo thoght of to begin 'ith! bt maintain the positi&e 'al"ing state as yo do so
? this is important if the e(ercise is to 'or" properly% Notice ho' yor perception
of the problem changes in the 'ay it represents itself to yor senses ? 'hat
yo see! hear and feel% 7ost people notice &ery signiJcant and positi&e
changes in the 'ay they are e(periencing the original #problem$ 'hile
'al"ing in this positi&e 'ay ? changes in the shape! si<e and color of the
problem! for e(ample% A lot of people Jnd it diNclt to e&en see the #problem$
as a problem any moreQ At the &ery least there 'ill be a change of some sort in
the 'ay the original isse is percei&ed% Bor those of yo committed to a
problem focs there is no need to 'orry ? yo still ha&e the choice to see yor
isse in this 'ay 'hene&er yo choose%
Once yo ha&e coached yorself throgh this e(ercise it is of corse
perfectly possible for yo to coach a client throgh the same process% I ha&e
done this many times! either Ist to bring a diMerent set of resorces to a
client or to help them to reali<e the degree to 'hich their physical state has
an in2ence on their thin"ing and their otloo" on the isse they are
'or"ing on% To smmari<e the steps)
C Get the client to focs on their #problem$ 'hile in a #negati&e$
physical state! e%g% slmped! shallo' breathing! eyes rooted to the
2oor% Get them to notice ho' they percei&e the problem and ho'
they feel 'hen they do this%
C Ta"e them otside and coach them in #perfect$ 'al"ing! that is!
'al"ing in the 'ay that feels best for them% Coaching in this conte(t
means as"ing them to 'al" ho' they feel best! bt may inclde a fe'
prompts as"ing them to pay attention to things li"e breathing!
rhythm and pace%
C Dhen they are 'al"ing at their best ,as Idged by them0! get them to
mentally re&isit the initial #problem$%
C +iscss 'ith them the diMerences in their perception of the isse
'hen &ie'ed from the t'o distinct physical states! and to compare
their le&els of resorceflness%
The 'hole of yor being! inclding the physical! is in&ol&ed in the 'ay yo
constrct and interpret yor e(perience% As a coach I try to be a'are of ho'
my physical state is impacting on the e(perience of the client% Dhat 'old be
the point! for e(ample! of attempting to help a client access a resorcefl
state! let$s say optimism! 'hile in my physical being I am modelling boredom
or lac" of enthsiasmK
As a coach yo can also encorage yor client to thin" abot the physical
state they might 'ant to be in if they are to feel flly resorcefl in a particlar
'ay% A simple 'ay of getting them into this is to as" them to imagine
themsel&es at their most resorcefl and notice 'hat the physical aspects of
#most resorcefl$ are ? 'hat they see! hear and feel in themsel&es in the
resorcefl state of being% A simple e(ercise that might help here is to get
them to imagine a &ersion of themsel&es standing a fe' feet a'ay that
embodies a resorcefl state ? let$s say! #optimism$% Get them to notice ho'
this #optimistic$ self loo"s! sonds and feels and ha&e them #step into$ this
&ersion of themsel&es! imagining themsel&es mo&ing into the more optimistic
Dor"ing 'ith negati&e assmptions! presppositions and
self8limiting beliefs
7any people carry arond 'ith them a nmber of beliefs that ha&e held them
bac" for years% Typically! these beliefs are formed in early life! sometimes as
the reslt of a single high8impact e&ent or becase of the beha&ior of a
signiJcant adlt sch as parent or teacher% These early beliefs are po'erfl
and can remain deeply embedded throghot adlt life% +espite or intellectal
matration as adlts! 'e can beha&e and act according to this early
*eliefs are not necessarily abot the #big$ things sch as ethical principles
or ideology% At the personal le&el they are! in eMect! the rles of yor life ?
'hat yo sholdOsholdn$t! mstOmstn$t do% 3ometimes these beliefs are
highly empo'ering! gi&ing yo permission and strctre to achie&e yor
goals and li&e the 'ay yo 'ant to% At other times! these rles are abot
limitation and obstrction! a constant rigid sorce of negati&e complsion
and e(pectation%
The logical le&els model
Robert +ilts created the logical le&els model in >A@4% The model illstrates!
among other things! ho' fndamental beliefs are in shaping or beha&ior!
core habits and character and! ltimately! aspects of or destiny ,see Bigre
*eginning from the top! the model sggests sggests that 'e are all
connected beings! and that or connectedness is at the core of or spirital
natre) 'e are all part of something bigger than 'e are% At the ne(t le&el! 'e
e(perience or core identity! that essence of ni:e mental energy by 'hich
'e recogni<e orsel&es% The ne(t le&el concerns or core beliefs and the conse:ent
&ales by 'hich 'e shape or li&es) this le&el is so &ery close to the
identity le&el that sometimes people thin" that they are in eMect their beliefs%
This goes some 'ay to e(plaining 'hy people can be e(tremely relctant to
ha&e their beliefs challenged in any 'ay% If 'e 'ant to see e&idence of beliefs
and &ales in action! 'e need loo" no frther than the daily ne's in 'hich
'e see people sacriJcing their o'n li&es or ending the li&es of others in
prsit of their beliefs%
People often beha&e as if their beliefs 'ere tre! and &ale them in reality
more than the teachings of the grs and saints% At a seminar I attended a
cople of years ago! the consltant and 'riter Adrian Gilpin as"ed s in the
adience to identify in or minds some of the beha&iors in others 'e fond
annoying% A nmber of people mentioned latenessOnpnctality% Adrian
as"ed one 'oman in the adience 'hat she 'anted to do to people 'ho 'ere
late or "ept her 'aiting) her reply 'as something li"e #Hit themQ 3lap themQ
Lill themQ$ Bar from this being greeted 'ith ner&os astonishment at the
presence of a homicidal maniac in or midst! many in the adience shoted
their spport for her sentiments! cheering her on 'ildly% Adrian! after calming
the mob! 'ent on to discss ho' 'e 'old often rather be #right$! i%e% to
ha&e or beliefs &alidated! than e(ercise compassion or e&en! as he pt it! or
hmanity% As a coach yo need to recogni<e the po'er of the client$s
pre&alent belief and &ale system and treat it 'ith de respect% Clients 'ill
not than" yo for critici<ing their core beliefs and &ales! e&en if it is e&ident
to yo as coach that they are not ser&ing the client particlarly 'ell in the
present day%
At the ne(t logical le&el! or beliefs and &ales aMect or capabilities ? or
capacities and s"ills% 7o&ing do'n to the ne(t le&el! 'e ha&e or actal
beha&iors ? the speciJc actions in or li&es% All of the J&e preceding le&els
ta"e place in the conte(t of or personal en&ironment ? the combination of
things! factors and relationships that ma"e p the indi&idal fabric of the
'orld in 'hich 'e personally li&e% All the le&els interact dynamically to create
a mental map of orsel&es%
Bigre /%-
7eta8patterns and the #to'ards ? a'ay from$ continm
In NLP! #meta8pattern$ is the name gi&en to the go&erning patterns of or
li&es! the #big architectre$ of or habital thin"ing and 'ays of loo"ing at the
'orld% These meta8patterns can lin" seflly to the logical le&els model%
3ometimes they are described as 'ays in 'hich 'e sort information! e(perience!
thoghts and feelings into recogni<able patterns% A sefl 'ay of
thin"ing abot these patterns is to thin" of polar opposite 'ays of loo"ing at
things! for e(ample)
C ftre orientation V past orientation
C focs on 'hat is right V focs on 'hat is 'rong
C focs on past V focs on ftre
C assmption of plenty V assmption of scarcity
C to'ards 'hat is 'anted V a'ay from 'hat is not 'anted
C can do V can$t do
C proacti&e V reacti&e
C focs on similarity V focs on diMerence%
Brom the bottom to the top of the logical le&els pyramid! the follo'ing
:estions based on meta8patterns are sefl in coaching someone arond life
and career isses)
>% En&ironment ,e%g% home! 'or"space and tra&el0
Typical :estion) #At the en&ironmental le&el! 'hat are yo see"ing
to mo&e a'ay from and 'hat are yo see"ing to mo&e to'ardsK$ This
:estion sally in&ol&es the client in thin"ing abot the balance of
'or" and home! the amont of tra&el they 'ant or don$t 'ant!
'hether they 'ant to 'or" in a team or alone and e&en things li"e
the stats of oNce to 'hich they aspire%
-% *eha&ior ,e%g% "inds of 'or" tas" and methods of 'or"ing0
Typical :estion) #At the beha&ioral le&el! 'hat are yo see"ing to
mo&e a'ay from and 'hat are yo see"ing to mo&e to'ardsK$ This
:estion allo's clients to thin" in detail abot the "ind of acti&ities
they really 'ant to be focsing on in ftre! e%g% mo&ing a'ay from
operational management and to'ards more strategic thin"ing%
F% Capabilities ,e%g% s"ills! se of talents0
Typical :estions) #At the le&el of capability! 'hat s"ills or talents are
yo hoping to de&elop and ma"e more se ofK Dhat ne' s"ills 'old
yo hope to learn and se! and 'hich might be passing their sell8by
dateK$ These :estions or similar ones enable the client to e(plore
'hat they 'ant to mo&e to'ards in terms of their personal gro'th!
learning and de&elopment%
E% 5ales and beliefs ,e%g% the realms of signiJcant meaning! prpose and
Typical :estions) #Dhat core &ales are yo mo&ing to'ards in yor
life and careerK Dhich are becoming less importantK Dhat beliefs
abot yorself are really important to mo&e to'ardsK And 'hat old
beliefs are yo loo"ing to lea&e behindK$ These and similar :estions
are another 'ay of encoraging clients to engage acti&ely in loo"ing
at 'hat is often implicit and e&en nconscios in their moti&ation% A
beneJt of loo"ing at &ales and beliefs in this 'ay is that it implies a
sense of dynamic de&elopment! 'hereby &ales and beliefs are more
than abstract nominal constrcts bt are seen as acti&e! organi<ing
components of a de&eloping life%
G% Identity ,'ho yo are0
Typical :estions) #Dhat "ind of person are yo hoping to becomeK
Dhat do yo see as yor core! deJning personal mission in lifeK$
These are big! high8impact :estions and need to be employed sensiti&ely
and 'ith fll rapport engaged if they are not to present as
o&er'helming or intrsi&e to some clients% Ho'e&er! they are also
:estions that create a great deal of thoght and really focs a client
on the cr( of their being%
/% 3piritalityOprpose
Typical :estions) #Ho' does yor mission Jt into the 'ider 'orldK
Ho' does it connect 'ith the bigger systems of 'hich yo are a partK
Dhat "ind of connection are yo mo&ing to'ardsK$
Incidentally! yo do not ha&e to ma"e this into a #techni:e$ as sch for the
client% =o can as" the :estions as a part of a reglar8sonding con&ersation
? yo being a'are of the strctre yo are follo'ing! bt lea&ing the client
free to d'ell on the meaning and the e(ploration%
*eliefs profondly aMect! and indeed create! speciJc capabilities and
actal beha&iors! and these capabilities and beha&iors in trn aMect beliefs
in a reinforcing loop% I ha&e had many discssions 'ith clients abot ho'
their thin"ing or beha&ior at one le&el impacts pon their thin"ing and
beha&ior at another% Bor e(ample! I remember 'or"ing 'ith an e(ecti&e
'ho had made it to the top from &ery hmble beginnings% He had been
broght p in a togh district of Glasgo' ,en&ironment0 'here he had
learned that it 'as sometimes necessary to protect yorself 'ith &erbal and
e&en physical aggression ,beha&ior0% His beliefs abot self8protection still
had this Glasgo' o&erlay! and as a reslt he 'old fre:ently lash ot
&erbally in the conte(t of both his 'or" and his pri&ate life% Dhile he
recogni<ed that this 'as not appropriate in his crrent life en&ironment he
still felt deep in his belief system that yo had to be a togh gy to ma"e it%
Rather than attempt to change this belief 'holesale! I discssed 'ith him
other models of #toghness$ that did not re:ire aggression! and he 'as able
to recogni<e that it 'as possible to be togh in a non8aggressi&e 'ay% The Jnal
step 'as to get him to ta"e action! and this in&ol&ed him agreeing to notice in
ftre 'hen he 'as tempted to act aggressi&ely and to act 'ith reasonableness
and control instead% Gradally he 'as able to bild p conJdence in
a ne' belief that he cold sr&i&e in the present day 'ithot resorting to
aggression% Interestingly! this had the additional beneJt of actally ma"ing
him feel #togher$ in himself becase he enIoyed the feeling of greater selfcontrol
and self8management%
3ometimes or beliefs act as bleprints for or ftre ? they are actally
self8flJlling prophecies% Bor e(ample! if yo li&e yor life belie&ing yo can
achie&e anything yo pt yor intention or 'ill to! the li"elihood is that yo
'ill achie&e mch of 'hat yo set ot to do% Con&ersely! if yo belie&e that
most of 'hat yo attempt is li"ely to fail! yo 'ill not bring yor fll
resorces into play and failre is the li"ely reslt% As someone once said! #If
yo belie&e yo can! or if yo belie&e yo can$t! yo$re rightQ$
Or beliefs therefore are emphatically not theoretical) they are e&idenced
in or e&ery beha&ior and 'ord% I remember 'hen I 'or"ed as an otdoor
management trainer in the La"e +istrict ho' mch someone$s belief patterns
'old aMect their enIoyment of! and sccess in! ta"ing on sometimes challenging
acti&ities% Bor e(ample! there 'as a ropes corse on site ,not an
obstacle corse re:iring brte strength and ra' corage! bt a careflly
constrcted series of challenges re:iring thoght and! at times! a degree of
commitment0% The primary prpose of the ropes corse 'as to help de&elop
e(pertise in spport and commnication among teams! bt there 'ere many
times 'hen the challenging parts in&ol&ing height and perception of ris"
created moments of drama for indi&idals% These dramas 'ere often illstrations
of beliefs in action% I 'old often coach people strggling in the
middle of the action on the ropes corse and in so doing 'as strc" by the
almost >.. per cent of cases in 'hich a negati&e belief e(pressed in their
internal dialoge ,#I can$t do this$ or #I$m going to come to harm$0 'old
create an inability to scceed% Con&ersely! the maIority of those 'hose
assmption 'as that they cold scceed 'old indeed scceed ? bt sadly! it
seems this cannot be ta"en as an absolte garantee% As a rle of thmb! it
seemed that if yo belie&ed yo cold not scceed yo 'ere almost certainly
not going to! 'hereas if yo belie&ed sccess 'as at least a possibility then yo
'ere in 'ith a good chance%
Often or negati&e beliefs are highly signiJcant! sometimes relating to
or deepest fears abot or ability to sr&i&e emotionally! socially or e&en
physically% *ecase of the &ery po'er of these beliefs 'e can sometimes
nconsciosly sabotage orsel&es! in terms of both managing or relationships
and getting 'hat 'e 'ant ot of life% Typical self8limiting beliefs in
coaching inclde the follo'ing)
C I am not lo&eable%
C I am a failre in some 'ay%
C I ha&e no real po'er%
C Others are not to be trsted%
C Other people are to blame for my bad feelings%
C IOyoOothers can ne&er really change%
In the conte(t of 'or" these beliefs are sometimes &aried! e(trapolated or
transmted into nhelpfl patterns of beliefs sch as the follo'ing)
C Bear of the gtter! e%g% ma"e one mista"e at 'or" and I 'ill be
C It$s all my falt ? nothing or no one else can e&er be to blame%
C It$s not fair! e%g% other people get a'ay 'ith mrder and ne&er get the
pnishment they deser&e and mean'hile I slog a'ay and get no
C 7y past deJnes me! e%g% I ha&e become deJned as a person by some
terrible e&ent in the past and this means that nothing can e&er be
right for me in the present or ftre%
De get so sed to carrying these beliefs arond that 'e ta"e them to be tre%
In NLP! beliefs and the belief strctres that 'e all ha&e are not ta"en to be
rigid and immo&able% Instead they are seen as part of the totality of mind and
are open to change ? 'e ha&e choices! e&en in or beliefs%
In practice! I ha&e sometimes fond clients in coaching profondly
resistant to e&en the idea that yoOthey can change e&en a tiny part of their
beliefs ? they belie&e that yo cannot and shold not change them% This is
partly becase beliefs are so hgely important to s ? they gi&e strctre and
meaning to or li&es% People sometimes see their beliefs as things that
#belong$ to them! as treasred possessions that gi&e their identity e(tra
Therefore! 'hen sing belief8modifying techni:es in coaching! one
shold aim for profond respect and reassrance as a fondation attitde%
*eliefs form ot of the ni:e personal history of the indi&idal and are there
for a reason% Helping someone to see the ac:isition of a ne'! more
empo'ering belief shold not create a sense of loss in any 'ay ? only the oMer
of greater personal choice and freedom%
Dor"ing to change self8limiting beliefs is a matter of great sensiti&ity! bt
also has the potential to create really high8impact change for a client% NLP
sho's s ho' to do belief change 'or" at a nmber of le&els of comple(ity!
from simply chec"ing in 'ith the congrence of a client$s body langage
right throgh to :ite strctred belief8changing techni:es%
Generali<ations! deletions and distortions
+escriptions of generali<ations! deletions! and distortions fall ot of 'hat in
NLP is referred to as the #meta8model$! a set of ideas properly acclaimed as some
of the most important of the NLP models! forming part of the fondation 'or"
of Richard *andler and 1ohn Grinder% In essence! the meta8model is abot ho'
or langage patterns not only represent an e(pression of or internal
e(perience bt also ser&e to create it%
At its most basic! the model teaches s some langage patterns that may
be creating or reinforcing erroneos or nhelpfl assmptions abot the
'orld and or ability to fnction in it% Than"flly! the model also pro&ides s
'ith neat and simple 'ays of npic"ing sch assmptions! by as"ing :estions
beginning 'ith #'hat$! #ho'$! #'ho$ or #'hen$%
Generali<ations! deletions and distortions are three of the most common
self8limiting langage patterns described in the meta8model% The tric" in
coaching is to loo" for missing bits of information and then to as" for them%
+ealing 'ith generali<ations
7any generali<ations are sefl% It is comforting and time8sa&ing to "no'
that! ha&ing eaten one apple and enIoyed it! the ne(t apple is probably going
to be good too% Dhen yo s'itch on the ne' T5 for the Jrst time it is indeed
sefl to assme that it 'ill come on again ne(t time if yo press the same
btton% Learning to dri&e on a particlar type of car teaches some principles
and beha&iors sefl to transfer to ho' yo might approach dri&ing a
slightly diMerent type of car! and so on% These are the "inds of generali<ation
that create helpfl and time8sa&ing habits% De learn a lot by generali<ing! too!
as in the rles of mathematics! science or grammar%
Ho'e&er! by no means all generali<ations are so helpfl% 3ometimes 'e
ha&e po'erfl e(periences in or li&es that case s to classify things in an
nhelpfl and potentially limiting 'ay in or minds% 3ppose! for e(ample!
that as a small child yo lend someone a fa&orite toy and it is not retrned)
yo may 'ell respond by generali<ing! consciosly or nconsciosly! 'ith
some "ind of message to yorself along the lines of #people cannot be trsted$%
This message may persist! giding yor a'areness and perception to notice
only e(amples of the principle in action! deleting from yor a'areness
e(amples of the opposite! i%e% trst'orthy beha&ior%
It is interesting to consider ho' this operates% 7ost of s in a #commonsense$
'ay probably assme that the phrase #seeing is belie&ing$ accrately
describes the process by 'hich 'e ta"e in information and data in a netral
'ay and then Jlter it throgh or belief system to create meaning% There is
another school of thoght that sggests a better principle might be that of
#belie&ing is seeing$) nder this principle 'e pre8Jlter or sensory e(perience
throgh or belief system! ths only seeing the "inds of beha&ior 'e are preprogrammed
to belie&e e(ist! and deleting any conter8e(amples%
In coaching! yo 'ill "no' a potentially nhelpfl generali<ation is in
force 'hen yor client ma"es an assertion inclding 'ords li"e #al'ays$ or
#ne&er$! e%g% #=o can ne&er get anything to change arond here$! or #I al'ays
get the blame for anything that goes 'rong%$ Listening ot for repeated or
emphatically e(pressed e(amples of these assertions creates an opportnity
for the coach to pro&ide constrcti&e challenge% Bor e(ample! if a client says
something li"e #I$m al'ays getting blamed for e&erything in my oNce$! the
coach can reply 'ith something li"e #E&erythingK Al'aysK Dhat has happened
e&er that yo didn$t get blamed forK$ Bor many clients this "ind of
simple and light challenge prodces t'o simltaneos reactions) one is
laghter! as they reali<e the literal inaccracy of 'hat they are saying! and the
other is the beginnings of recognition that they may in fact ha&e a habit of
negati&e generali<ation that is creating a sense in them of! in this case!
disempo'erment or &ictimi<ation%
+ealing 'ith deletions
+eletions are essentially the parts of the client$s mental model that seem to be
missing as they describe something% The missing bits can be nons or &erbs or
simple bits of information of &arios sorts% The eMect of their omission is to
create &ageness and non8speciJcity in 'hat someone might be saying%
Bor e(ample! a client may say something li"e #3he made me feel bad%$
There are se&eral missing bits here! inclding #ho'$ she did this and #'hat$ the
bad feeling is or 'as% A sefl coaching response might be to as"! #Ho' did
she ma"e yo feel bad! speciJcallyK$ and then! later! #In 'hat 'ay did she
ma"e yo feel badK$
Another pattern is for someone to delete a necessary comparison that
gi&es conte(t to an assertion% Bor e(ample! #7y boss is a'fl$ might in&ite
from the coach the response) #A'fl in 'hat 'ayK Compared to 'homK$
3ometimes clients trn 'hat shold be &erbs or action 'ords into nons
in a 'ay that can create a sense of stc"ness% Bor e(ample! an assertion li"e
#Or relationship is really bad$ creates an assmption that the relationship is a
static entity% The coach can as" :estions li"e #Dhat is going on that is bad!
speciJcallyK$! ths searching both for speciJcity and for actal beha&iors
that can potentially be changed%
+ealing 'ith distortions
There are se&eral 'ays in 'hich clients can inad&ertently distort their &ie' of
an isse% One is to ma"e a potentially erroneos assmption! for e(ample #3he
said that to me and that means she doesn$t li"e me%$ In this "ind of e(ample
the coach can as" something li"e #Ho' does her saying that mean she doesn$t
li"e yo! speciJcallyK$
Another e(ample is 'hen clients #mind8read$ other people! for e(ample
saying something li"e #I "no' yo thin" I$m being silly$ to their coach) here
the coach can simply as"! #Dhat ma"es yo thin" that I thin" that abot
There are nmeros other e(amples in the meta8model of speciJc formlations
of 'ords that carry 'ith them :estionable assmptions or
conclsions and &ie's dra'n from distorted! deleted or generali<ed information%
Bor the coach the tas" is to as"! #Dhat piece of information is missing
here that it might be sefl for the client to focs onK$
3ometimes! the relati&e simplicity of the meta8model challenges is not
enogh to shift a stbborn belief% In *enIamin$s case there seemed to be an
nderpinning belief that prosperity 'as someho' not 'ithin his grasp! and
that he 'old ha&e to li&e his life according to the scarcity model e(empliJed
by his parental pbringing% This belief 'as one of the maIor inhibitors to his
goal of achie&ing bsiness sccess% I clearly remember his emotional response
to my proMering some information abot the potential high earnings! relati&ely
spea"ing! of freelance trainers in comparison 'ith those 'or"ing
in8hose) his facial e(pression! and sbse:ent 'ords! 'as tantali<ingly
poised bet'een 'anting to belie&e me and daring himself to belie&e that 'hat
he had dreamed abot cold actally be 'ithin his grasp%
Than"flly *enIamin! as a highly intelligent client! 'as 'illing and able
to grasp intellectally the concept of the self8limiting belief and 'as 'illing
for his beliefs abot scarcity and prosperity to be challenged in coaching% I
discssed 'ith him something of the theory of self8limiting beliefs and then
as"ed him to focs on the follo'ing :estions)
C Dhat actally is the belief that limits yoK +escribe it in a sentence
that begins #I belie&e % % %$
C Ho' 'as this belief createdK Thin" of the time in yor personal
history 'hen this belief 'as created! and identify the circmstances
and the people in&ol&ed%
C Dhat has this belief done for yo in the pastK Ho' has it tried to
ser&e yo ,regardless of any n'anted negati&e conse:ences0K
C Ho' is the belief no' limiting yoK
C Dhat 'old yo rather belie&eK Create a sentence beginning #I
'old li"e to belie&e % % %$
C Dhat beha&ior,s0! ho'e&er apparently small! cold yo no' ta"e
on that 'old be consistent 'ith 'hat yo 'old prefer to belie&eK
C Dhat 'ill yo actally commit to doingK
C Ho' 'ill yoO'e chec" yor progressK
It is important in all coaching e(ercises to obey the rles of rapport and as"
the :estions sing a style and form of 'ords that enable yo and the client
to feel comfortable ? it is conter8prodcti&e for the techni:e to get in the
'ay of the client$s process% Note also that it is the commitment to try a ne'
beha&ior that is at the bsiness end of this techni:e ? ta"ing on a ne'
beha&ior! no matter ho' small! po'erflly challenges old beliefs% Notice
that the #old$ belief is still gi&en e(plicit respect in the :estioning process%
A colleage once e(plained this to me mch more simply by saying! #It is
easier to beha&e yor 'ay into a ne' 'ay of thin"ing than it is to thin" yor
'ay into a ne' 'ay of beha&ing$ ? a sefl thoght to ha&e if yor coaching
con&ersations are getting a bit bogged do'n in the theoretical or analytical%
Bor *enIamin! the isses of self8limiting beliefs 'ere Jrmly attached to his
needs for secrity% Bor me as a coach the challenge 'as to help him Jnd a
mindset that allo'ed him really to belie&e that the prsit of prosperity and
secrity simltaneosly 'ere not incompatible goals% This meant sing the
belief8bsting :estions to loo" into his assmptions arond ris"8ta"ing and
cation% De 'ere gradally able to constrct a con&incing model that
allo'ed *enIamin to ta"e the #ris"$ and start his o'n bsiness ? a dream that
had been deferred for years ot of cation! 'ith a reslting sense of frstration
and lac" of flJlment for him%
3peciJcally! 'e changed some ancient and rigid assmptions% Bor
e(ample! 'e e(amined his assmption that 'or"ing for a local athority 'as
someho' the #safe$ option% De conclded that all employees 'ere &lnerable
to organi<ational tides! i%e% yo cold get >.. per cent sac"ed 'hether yo
'ere any good at yor Iob or not% If 'or"ing for yorself! ho'e&er! and yo
lose a client! it is nli"ely to be the case that yo lose all yor income ? if yo
ha&e ten cstomers and lose a cople! yo are only -. per cent #sac"ed$ and
yo are still able to go ot loo"ing for more bsiness% Brthermore! 'e discssed
ho' talent and good 'or" in yor o'n bsiness 'as li"ely to bring yo
'or" and conse:ent prosperity! 'hereas in a Iob there 'as! sadly! less li"ely
to be a direct lin" bet'een good 'or" and prosperity! gi&en the sometimes
nfair 'ay in 'hich organi<ations can operate%
Colin! a Jnance manager 'ho 'anted to set p his o'n conslting practice!
held the con&iction that he did not ha&e enogh professional credibility to
scceed in his o'n bsiness! i%e% that he had ct oM his options by 'or"ing
too long in the same organi<ation in the same area of 'or"% De gradally
e(amined this self8limiting belief in the light of 'hat Colin himself "ne'
abot people 'ho had gone into the freelance mar"et 'ith sccess% Colin
came to reali<e that he had more than enogh "no'ledge and e(perience to
match theirs% The critical reali<ation! ho'e&er! 'as his recognition that it 'as
not past record on 'hich bsiness sccess depended ? it 'as on performance
in the here8and8no'! 'or"ing face to face 'ith bsiness clients in meetings
and 'ith actal people on corses% In training! yo can only be sccessfl in
the present ? e&en yor last performance! ho'e&er good! is not an indicator of
sccess in the mind of the present cstomer in the moment yo are dealing
'ith them%
This reali<ation 'as a hge release for Colin! 'ho had been hng p on
self8limiting beliefs abot :aliJcations and trac" record for many years% He
"ne' that his real strengths 'ere in the area of relationship8bilding and in
managing grop dynamics and bilding learning en&ironments ? the &ery
areas li"ely to bring sccess in bsiness as a freelance trainer%
I am pleased to say that Colin made his transition sccessflly% Indeed! his
le&el of sccess in his ne' bsiness has broght 'ith it some ne' isses! sch as
the need tomanage his time eMecti&ely and allo' himto enIoy himself and rest%
The A*C+E model
7ainstream psychology is increasingly in alignment 'ith this "ind of
happiness8focsed approach% The #positi&e psychology$ mo&ement has begn
to shift the polarity of psychological inter&ention a'ay from trying to sol&e
problems and to'ards trying to help people create more happiness in their
li&es% In essence the mo&e is a parallel to NLP$s emphasis a'ay from #problem
focs$ and to'ards #otcome focs$% In his fascinating boo" Athentic Happiness!
7artin 3eligman ,-..F0 otlines an alternati&e approach to beliefbsting!
based on a process of increasing optimism by dispting pessimistic
thoghts% He calls this the A*C+E model% Once yo recognise yo ha&e a
pessimistic thoght abot yorself! yo apply the model as follo's)
C A stands for ad&ersity ? the recognition and naming of the circmstances
that ha&e initially created the pessimistic or self8limiting
C * stands for belief ? the belief issing from the e&ent and the
thoghtsOfeelings created by it%
C C stands for conse:ences ? the eMects of the belief pon one$s
C + stands for disptation ? the core techni:e here is to dispte yor
o'n thoghtObelief as if yo are an e(ternal person) 3eligman points
ot that 'e are often good at dispting 'ith others bt rarely se the
same s"ills to dispte negati&es in or o'n li&es%
C E stands for energi<ation ? the positi&e energy that follo's a sccessfl
I inclde this techni:e primarily as an illstration that NLP is not alone in
de&eloping practical techni:es for helping people to deal positi&ely 'ith
their isses! bt as a coach yo can adapt this techni:e to yor o'n
coaching style% Here is an e(ample of ho' it 'or"s! dra'n from 'or"ing 'ith
C Ad&ersity) #I came home late after a diNclt Iorney and in a bad
mood from 'or"% 7y 'ife started to moan at me abot her day and
her feelings of being trapped in the hose! and also complained
abot ha&ing to pic" p after e&erybody! and ho' nobody seemed to
than" her for e&erything she did for them% I snapped at her really
hard! saying no8one 'as "eeping her prisoner! and she cold lea&e if
she 'anted! if she didn$t li"e it here ? 'ay o&er8the8top stM%$
C *elief) #This marriage is going do'nhill fast% 3he doesn$t appreciate all
the 'or" I ha&e to do day in and day ot ? no one says than"s to me
for my t'el&e8hor days and getting p at si( e&ery morning% 3he$s
bored 'ith me ? maybe I$m a disappointment to her % % %$
C Conse:ences) #I sat and sl"ed 'hile she stomped pstairs! bt I "ne'
I$d gone too far% After a 'hile I got p and 'ent pstairs% 3he$d clearly
been crying% I said sorry! and she said it 'as OL! bt she loo"ed really
sha"en and hrt% I felt li"e a blly and a persector%$
C +isptation) #This isn$t the end of the 'orld% De hardly e&er ha&e a
spat! and 'hen 'e do 'e al'ays get rond to discssing it sensibly in
the end and forgi&ing each other% 6sally there is e&en a beneJt in
the long rn becase 'e learn more abot each other% I can$t be that
mch of a blly ? she is al'ays telling me I am the "indest person she
"no's ? that$s 'hy she married me% I Ist need to remember not to
let my o'n tensions and 'orries bild p! and I need to remind her
more Ist ho' mch I do appreciate her%$
C Energi<ation) #De tal"ed it throgh after my coaching session and I
felt mch more in control and bac" to my sal easy8going self% 3he
laghed at herself for getting so 'ond p and told me of her plans
for ta"ing on a ne' stdy corse she had been thin"ing abot for
years% De also tal"ed abot ho' 'e 'old Jnd more time to go ot
together and get s both ot of the 'or"Ohose rotine%$
4 Resol&ing dilemmas
7any clients come 'ith nresol&ed dilemmas of &arios natres% Among the
most serios ? and interesting ? are moral dilemmas 'here! sally! doing the
#right$ thing 'ill in&ol&e some potential or actal loss for the client% 3ome are
long8term isses! perhaps in&ol&ing thoghts of a mch8considered career
change% Others are more focsed on immediate circmstances! perhaps a
:estion abot 'hether to raise a complaint 'ith a boss% 3ometimes dilemmas
emerge ot of the conte(t of other discssions) yo can spot these 'hen
a client says something li"e #Dell! on the one hand % % %$ or #Dell! part of me
'ants one thing bt another part of me 'ants another% % % %$ In these instances
the coach can be of ser&ice in the Jrst place simply by bringing the dilemma
to the fll attention of the client% One of the simplest strctres for helping
yor client in this 'ay is the #name it! claim it! tame it! aim it$ approach%
Name it! claim it! tame it and aim it
>% Name it) This is abot ma"ing yor client$s dilemma e(plicit% 3ometimes
dilemmas Ist seem to 2oat arond inside s in the form of
rather ncomfortable mi(ed feelings% Bor an e(ample of a mi(ed
feeling! remember 'hat it feels li"e if someone yo really care abot!
'ith the best of intentions! gi&es yo a stri"ingly a'fl present ? I
ha&e a particlar blac" shirt 'ith red lightning stripes in mind as I
'rite this% Or! perhaps someone yo don$t really care for &ery mch
in&ites yo imploringly to attend a social fnction) yo don$t 'ant to
go! bt yo don$t 'ant to oMend either% Re2ect on ho' these
dilemmas can sometimes create feelings of helplessness and disempo'erment!
perhaps prodcing hesitant and ncon&incing
responses% ,I ne&er did con&ince her I li"ed that shirt! as a matter of
fact%0 These are of corse relati&ely simple and nimportant e(amples!
nli"ely to featre too mch in a coaching session! bt the
principle applies to the bigger dilemmas ? nless yo e(plicitly name
them! it is hard to deal 'ith them eMecti&ely% Naming them brings
them directly to yor conscios attention in a more coherent form%
-% Claim it) This is abot ta"ing responsibility for dealing 'ith yor
dilemma! rather than Ist letting it drift on% The "ey is to remind
yorself that yo ha&e a choice as to ho' to respond to something
e&en if it seems that the root case or blame lies else'here% 3ometimes
it may seem that yor dilemma is someone else$s doing) bt
only yo can choose to ta"e action on yor o'n behalf% If! on
re2ection! yo decide the dilemma is not really yors alone! yo can
then decide ho' to raise it 'ith 'hoe&er else is in&ol&ed%
F% Tame it) 3ome dilemmas can be scary! presenting s 'ith the spectre
of loss or of ma"ing a big mista"e% 3ometimes 'e need to step bac"
and pt them in perspecti&e% 6sefl coaching :estions to help 'ith
this are)
C Ho' important is this dilemma on a scale of .?>. in the conte(t
of all the other things that are important in yor lifeK
C Imagine that t'o years ha&e passed and yo are loo"ing at this
dilemma from t'o years on% Ho' important does it seem no'
on a .?>. scaleK
Another 'ay of creating perspecti&e is to create a detached or disassociated
&ie' of the dilemma% +isassociation is a term sed to
describe an e(perience 'hen yo are loo"ing at yorself as if from
the otside% This can be a &ery po'erfl 'ay of redcing the emotional
charge of a particlar circmstance! allo'ing yo to gain
insight and learning% To achie&e a disassociated perspecti&e! all yo
ha&e to do! or as" yor client to do! is imagine loo"ing at yorself in
the dilemma scenario as if from a distance ? say! the other side of the
room ? and obser&e yorself #in action$! i%e% as if yo 'ere loo"ing at
yorself in the dilemma sitation% If yo get yor clients to do this! a
sefl :estion to as" them is) #Dhat do yo learn from this perspecti&eK$
5ery often they 'ill reali<e they ha&e been ma"ing far too
mch of the dilemma! gi&ing it too mch po'er! and that the ans'er
is in any case rather ob&ios% There is a direct connection here 'ith
the meta8mirror techni:e% The cr( of this is that by loo"ing at
yorself in the sitation that is creating yor dilemma! yo can
create a more detached and less emotionally cloded perspecti&e%
E% Aim it) This means resol&ing to deal 'ith the dilemma and ta"e some
positi&e action! rather than Ist lea&ing it to fester% Commitment is
the "ey here% Ho'e&er! the most positi&e step in aiming it is to create
in yor mind a 'ell8formed otcome for the isse ,see Chapter / for a
description of ho' to do this0%
Richard 'as a sccessfl chief e(ecti&e in the National Health 3er&ice% Bor
abot si( years he had 'or"ed in the same Primary Care Trst and had
achie&ed all the goals he had set himself 'hen he had ta"en on the Iob%
Althogh he had thoght himself content to carry on and consolidate the
gains he had made in this post! a ne'! ne(pected Iob oMer 'as simltaneosly
e(citing and nsettling him% This oMer 'as from a central go&ernment
department! and in essence oMered him a role as a lead consltant
ad&ising on a national change programme 'ithin the NH3% This oMer!
e(citing and 2attering as it 'as! presented Richard 'ith a nmber of isses
and dilemmas)
C The crrent Iob 'as safe and 'ell "no'n) he had spent years
ac:iring e(pertise and e(perience in this role! and had po'er!
in2ence and a good reptation! not Ist 'ithin his post bt 'ithin
the local commnity 'here he 'as seen as a leader and #'ise &oice$
on a nmber of local isses%
C The ne' Iob 'old be challenging professionally ? he 'as 'orried
that his e(pertise in managing and leading #from the front$ 'old be
dilted by 'or"ing in a primarily ad&isory role! and by the need to
ac:ire a ne' set of s"ills in consltancy%
C There 'ere domestic factors) as a family man 'ith yong children he
'old be faced 'ith a great deal of tra&elling and 'or"ing a'ay from
home at the go&ernment head:arters in London! in itself a long
C There 'as an isse of primary professional identity) by 'or"ing for
the go&ernment he cold be seen as #poacher trned game"eeper$
'ithin the health commnity%
In discssion 'ith Richard he recogni<ed that the isses raised by the ne' Iob
oMer 'ere primarily abot his personal and professional &ales) the domestic
isses! 'hile important! 'ere secondary in that he felt he 'as yong enogh
and robst enogh to pt p 'ith the incon&eniences of tra&el as long as the
Iob itself 'as right% De agreed that a good se of the coaching sessions 'e had
'old be to thro' a lot of or time and energy into helping him nra&el and
nderstand his core &ales so that he cold ma"e a &ales8centred decision%
De agreed 'e 'old try ot a particlar techni:e "no'n as #alter egos$ to
2sh ot his core professional &ales and place them in some "ind of order of
priority as a basis for ma"ing the big decision%
#Alter egos$ or #fantasy Jgres$
This techni:e is e:ally at home in a career change or de&elopment conte(t)
indeed many client dilemmas are connected 'ith career isses% I learned this
techni:e on my NLP practitioner corse in >A@@% At that time it 'as introdced
to me as #fantasy Jgres$ and I coined the term #alter egos$ becase it
seemed to chime better as a title 'ith or coaching corse material% Today it
seems almost :aint as an e(ercise! gi&en its anti:ity and absolte simplicity!
and yet it contines to bear e(cellent reslts as a coaching tool% As
'ith mch in coaching! ho'e&er! simplicity of basic strctre needs to be
combined 'ith sbtlety and sensiti&ity in practical application for the indi&idal
The bare essence of the e(ercise consists of J&e careflly 'orded :estions!
as"ed in the follo'ing se:ence)
>% Dhat is important to yo abot 'hat yo do professionallyOfor a
-% Dhat 'old yo rather be doing professionallyOfor a li&ingK
F% Dhat is important to yo abot 'hat yo 'old rather be doing
professionallyOfor a li&ingK
E% Dhom do yo most admireK
G% Dhat is important to yo abot this personK
As coach! yo 'old as" yor client these :estions in se:ence! as"ing them
to 'rite do'n their ans'ers sccinctly! ideally in a single sentence% Ho'e&er!
each :estion needs to be as"ed 'ith a degree of e(planation% Bor instance! to
the :estion #Dhat is important to yo abot 'hat yo do professionallyOfor
a li&ingK$! clients sometimes respond 'ith a 2ippant response of #7oney! of
corseQ$ Bor the occasional client this is literally tre ? money is their nmber
one moti&ator ? bt in my e(perience most clients! once they ha&e been gi&en
the opportnity to thin" abot it in a strctred 'ay! recogni<e that money is
not as important as they ha&e sometimes habitally assmed% Clearly it is
important to ha&e enogh money to meet basic needs! and e&en enogh to
feel yo are properly &aled for yor 'or"% *t as" yor client to consider
'hat is important to them at a deeper le&el! i%e% 'hat their Iob represents in
terms of 'hat it means to them as a person and as a professional% A good
prompt can be to as" 'hat their Iob does for them in terms of Iob satisfaction
,bt discorage them from inclding #Iob satisfaction$ as an ans'er in itself!
becase this is a &ery &age term and means diMerent things to diMerent
people) encorage them to be as speciJc as possible and to 'rite do'n
their ans'er sccinctly ? this sally engages them in a fe' mintes$
Bor some clients it can be a good idea for yo to do the e(ercise alongside
them! to pro&ide them 'ith a model and encorager% I ha&e fond in reality
that abot half my clients enIoy doing the e(ercise as a shared acti&ity! bt it
is important to ensre that the spotlight remains Jrmly on them and that
yor e(amples and responses are oMered merely as encoragement to be
ncensored in their thin"ing%
In the conte(t of a career re&ie' I ran throgh this e(ercise 'ith Richard%
His ans'ers 'ere as follo's)
RE3OL5ING +ILE77A3 >.4
>% Dhat is important to yo abot 'hat yo do professionallyOfor a li&ingK
Richard$s ans'er) #The opportnity to help people gro' in terms of
their ability and conJdence! and to 'or" inno&ati&ely and collaborati&ely
'ith a range of talented colleages ? all of this 'hile
ha&ing fn%$
-% Dhat 'old yo rather be doing professionallyOfor a li&ingK
This apparently simple :estion can e&o"e po'erfl responses% One
to 'atch ot for is a "ind of indignation along the lines of #Ho' dare
yo imply that there cold be any more 'orthy &ocation than
Jnance directorOhospital managerOci&il ser&ant! etc%K$ The inference
that clients can sometimes dra' from this particlar :estion is that
someho' their career is not good enogh% 3ometimes! incidentally!
they really do thin" this bt do not than" the coach for pointing ot!
ho'e&er innocently or indirectly! ho' dissatisJed they ha&e become
'ith it) this is potentially a rather spi"y area and one 'here yo need
to choose yor 'ords careflly%
The "ey here is for the coach to present the :estion as an
opportnity for the client to e(ercise freedom of imagination and to
let 'hat might be ancient or sppressed desire srface! e&en if Ist for
a moment% The "ey tone to stri"e is #ncensored playflness$% Bor the
more inhibited clients I ha&e at times prompted them to thin" of
Iobs or careers they han"ered after as children! Iobs of the engine
dri&er &ariety% Bor others! another sefl prompt is to as" them 'hat
they 'old do if money 'ere not an isse! or if they cold prse a
cherished hobby or interest for a li&ing% It can be important to point
ot that the :estion does not imply they need to be actally able or
capable of flJlling the Iob% =o can allo' them t'o or three choices if
they strggle to settle on one only% Richard$s ans'er to the :estion
'as) #Professional sportsman! probably a cric"eter or golfer! or a
msicianOmsic prodcer! playing li&e on stage and 'or"ing in the
stdio 'ith roc" bands%$ Let me assre yo! the England cric"et
selectors are nli"ely to come "noc"ing on Richard$s door! nor are
the msic papers abot to clear their front pages in heralding the
ne' ftre of roc"$n$roll% The 'hole point is that Richard allo'ed
himself the temporary #l(ry$ of thin"ing abot doing something
Ist for the hell of it ? to let his imagination go and to thin" 'ithot
inhibition e&en if only for a short time%
F% Dhat is important to yo abot 'hat yo 'old rather be doing professionallyO
for a li&ingK
This is! in general process terms! a repeat of :estion >% A sefl
emphasis for both :estions is the #yo$ ? it is important that the
client feels they do not ha&e to be trying to please anyone else here!
or someho' Istify! perhaps to the coach! their &ales% Again!
encorage yor client to be speciJc and sccinct ? one or t'o
sentences shold be enogh% Here is Richard$s ans'er) #*eing a
professional sportsman 'old allo' me to be competiti&e! physical!
be otdoors and 'old oMer ad&entros tra&el% *eing a msicianO
prodcer 'old allo' me to be collaborati&e! creati&e and aesthetically
flJlled! 'ith the bons of e(tra adrenalin and a performance
"ic" 'hen playing li&e%$
E% Dhom do yo most admireK
I ha&e fond that I need plenty of e(planation for this one% 7any
clients seem relctant to admit they admire someone flly! so it is
best to say that it is all right to ha&e mi(ed feelings ? #idols ha&e feet
of clay$ seems to sm it p% At the same time! it is important that
clients feel absoltely free to select from the 'idest possible range) in
sggesting a #no censorship$ principle I sometimes ma"e some of the
possibilities apparent! emphasi<ing that the chosen person cold be)
C real or Jctional
C contemporary or historical
C famos or obscre
C imaginary%
3ome clients Jnd it diNclt to pic" only one person! so I 'old allo'
a ma(imm of three% Richard$s chosen three 'ere Gandhi! 3pi"e
7illigan and 3hane Darne% It is important to recogni<e that choices
on the day represent the crrent &ales pictre or a #snapshot$%
G% Dhat is important to yo abot this personK
*y this point the client is sally 'ell in the groo&e and needs little
prompting to be both speciJc and sccinct% Richard$s ans'ers 'ere)
#Gandhi ? prsed the highest sel2ess ideals nder e(treme pressre
'hile remaining rooted to the materialOmndane 'orld 'ithot
complaint% 7illigan ? reached for the s"ies in terms of ad&entre in
hmor and remained a dedicated spporter of hman rights despite
years of debilitating mental illness% Darne ? a genine 'arrior 'ith a
smile! an artist 'ho ma"es the hardest sporting feats loo" easy! and
an honest! self8deprecating non8conformist%$
Once the client has ans'ered all the :estions! the ne(t step is to as" them to
mar" ot the "ey 'ords! those e(pressing &ales or core criteria! in their
ans'ers to :estions >! F and G! i%e% the #Dhat is important % % K$ :estions%
3imply as" them to nderline or circle the 'ords that seem most signiJcant to
them% The "ey step no' is to as" the :estions that allo' them to learn more
abot their &ales% 3ome sefl :estions are the follo'ing)
C Ho' does the o&erall spread of &ale 'ords stri"e yoK
C Dhat 'ords ,if any0 do yo notice that stay consistentK
C Dhat changes! if any! do yo notice as yo loo" do'n the listK
C As yo loo" at these 'ords! 'hich no' stri"e yo as the most
C Dhat do these &ale 'ords tell yo abot the decision yo ha&e to
7any clients notice that the frther do'n the list they go! the deeper the
&ales feel ? they tend to attach the most signiJcance to the &ales that relate
to the people they admire% This may be becase or #heroes$ are psychologically
&ery important to s ? are in fact e(emplars of or #ideal$ sel&es%
I ha&e noticed ho' the &ales attached to these heroic Jgres are often
obser&able in the client themsel&es% 3ometimes it feels sefl to dra' the
client$s attention to this! and point ot to them that the &ery :ality in
someone else they admire is eminently a &irte they themsel&es possess% This
is a coaching techni:e in its o'n right! referred to as #ac"no'ledging$) an
opportnity to point ot to the client a resorce state they may ha&e o&erloo"ed
or simply ta"en for granted% +espite its simplicity it can ha&e a
reinforcing and moti&ating eMect% I remember 'or"ing 'ith Loise! a hard'or"ing
e(ecti&e from the charity sector) 'hen I pointed ot to her Ist ho'
dedicated and hard8'or"ing she 'as! she seemed to Jll 'ith pride and
satisfaction ? she had begn to ta"e her o'n commitment for granted and 'e
'ent on to discss ho' perhaps other people in the organi<ation tended to do
the same%
Other applications of the #alter egos$ techni:e
This techni:e is sefl in other sitations 'hen a client 'ants to e(plore
&ales and meaning in their 'or" or life% Bor e(ample! some clients e(press
dissatisfaction 'ith their career de&elopment! or a fall8oM in Iob satisfaction!
and #alter egos$ can be a great 'ay for them to e(plore 'hat seems to be
missing% In these circmstances there are some other &ery sefl :estions!
sch as the follo'ing)
C Ho' cold yo get more of 'hat is important to yo in 'hat yo are
crrently doingK
C In 'hat other 'ays might yo see" to ha&e these &ales met! either
inside or otside yor 'or"ing lifeK
C Dhat 'old yo ha&e to change in yor circmstances for yo to get
more of 'hat is important to yoK
After many years of sing this e(ercise I ha&e consistently fond it to be a
reliable 'ay of approaching an apparently hea&y sbIect ? &ales ? in a
palatable! light and e&en fn 'ay% Nonetheless clients consistently e(tract the
necessary depth from this analysis of their &ales) many clients describe it as
an emotionally mo&ing e(perience% 3ome clients say they ha&e not been
as"ed to thin" abot their &ales in anything bt a &ery sperJcial 'ay since
the day they started 'or" ? strange! 'hen yo thin" abot ho' important
or &ales are to or moti&ation and performance! and ho' mch many
organi<ations tal" abot #&aling$ their employees%
The #pea" e(perience$ techni:e
This techni:e is sefl in a nmber of coaching circmstances% E&en Ist as
an energy8raiser for a client 'ho has got a bit stc" or bogged do'n in an
isse! it has great &ale% Ho'e&er! as 'ith the #alter egos$ techni:e! it can also
ha&e hge &ale in helping clients to resol&e dilemmas by helping them to get
clarity on 'hat is really important to them% It is &ery mch an e(ercise that
'or"s on the #being$ self or that part of the self in&ol&ing identity! &ales and
beliefs! althogh it is a relati&ely lighthearted and enIoyable e(perience for
the client ? indeed this is 'hy it 'or"s! enabling a client to do deep 'or"
'ithot brdening them 'ith oneros langage or strctre%
The core of the techni:e is abot helping a client to identify 'hen they
'ere at their essential best in any conte(t of life ? some people refer to being
in #2o'$ ? and to help them to reali<e consciosly 'hat factors 'ere
particlarly important to them at these #pea"$ moments% This "no'ledge can
then feed into their decision8ma"ing abot particlar dilemmas or #big isses$
they might be facing%
Tony 'as a senior ci&il ser&ant 'ho 'as facing p to the fact that his
career seemed to ha&e lost some of its spar"le ? he simply 'asn$t e(periencing
the le&el of satisfaction he had pre&iosly had! bt 'as not sre 'hy this 'as
happening% He had reached a point 'here he 'as in a dilemma ? shold he
pac" in his ci&il ser&ice career and loo" for something elseK And if he 'ere to
do this! 'hat 'old it beK
I introdced the idea of the pea" e(perience e(ercise and as"ed Tony to
tal" abot one or more times 'hen he felt absoltely at his best ? 'hen his
senses 'ere heightened! 'hen he felt deeply and Ioyosly engaged% I
e(plained to him that 'hile he spo"e to me abot each of these e(periences I
'old 'rite do'n e&ery 'ord that seemed to ha&e a bearing or in2ence on
his e(perience% Tony spo"e enthsiastically abot ho' he had organi<ed his
recent E.th birthday party! one of those #big$ birthdays 'hen clients are often
engaged in sol8searching abot their careers% As he spo"e his eyes seemed to
light p) he 'ent into tremendos detail abot the great care he had la&ished
on the preparations and ho' mch he had enIoyed being the host of 'hat
indeed seemed a glittering occasion%
RE3OL5ING +ILE77A3 >>>
At the end of his accont of the great night I had t'o pages of "ey 'ords
and short phrases scra'led do'n% I as"ed Tony to loo" at these and pic" ten
that seemed to him to ha&e particlar resonance 'ith the :ality of the
occasion% I then as"ed him to narro' his choice do'n to the top three 'ords
or phrases ? 'ords that for him smmed p the absolte essence of the night%
His three chosen 'ords 'ere)
C friendship
C caringOhospitality
C sho'ing oMQ
De 'ent on to discss the signiJcance of these 'ords to him and his career!
and he re2ected on ho' little of any of these things he 'as crrently
e(periencing at 'or"% De 'ent on to discss the actions he 'old need to
ta"e to get more of these things in his 'or" ? he 'as able to identify a nmber
of actions he cold prse to this end fairly :ic"ly% He left the session
e(cited to ha&e identiJed real steps he cold ta"e to get more of these
( factors bac" into his career% Dhat had been bilding in his mind as a
potentially drastic trning point resol&ed itself into a sccinct and focsed
action plan based on 'hat 'as really important to him in terms of operating
at his &ery best%
3mmary of the pea" e(perience techni:e
E(plain to yor client 'hat yo mean by pea" e(perience% 3ome people refer
to it as being #in 2o'$ or being #in the <one$ ? a term li"ely to Jnd resonance
'ith sporty people in particlar% =o might oMer some typical factors often
present in pea" moments! sch as the follo'ing)
C losing a'areness of time
C a sense of eMortless ease
C feeling conJdent! assred of sccess
C a sense of Ioyosness e&en in a serios acti&ity
C sing all or some of yor learned and innate abilities%
Get yor client to describe one! t'o or e&en three of these e(periences from
any conte(t of their life% Bor each one! go throgh the process of 'riting do'n
all the "ey 'ords and phrases! and then narro'ing these do'n 'ith yor
client to the top fe'% =o can then ta"e yor client throgh a re&ie' of ho'
the 'ay for'ard throgh their crrent dilemma can be informed by their
insights into #them at their best$%
Here is a 'or"ed e(ample of the #pea" e(perience$ techni:e ta"en from
one of or coaching corse demonstrations) this in&ol&ed a coaching ttor
rnning throgh the techni:e 'ith a stdent 'hile someone else from the
learning grop 'rote do'n all the "ey 'ords on a 2ipchart%
Elaine$s pea" e(perience 2ipchart loo"ed li"e this ,'ith the Jrst choice of
"ey 'ords italici<ed and the Jnal selection of "ey 'ords italici<ed in bold0
E(perience >) doing a stand8p comedy rotine
*siness schoolP proot and mo&e onP li&ed and breathedP sociali<ingP
stand8p comedyP standing in front of my peersP enIoyed the eMect it
had on adienceP fnny storyP adrenalinP going ot on a limbP labelled as
feministP people rolling in the aislesP holding cort 'ith hmorP fnnyP
light teasing 'ayP bris"P ner&e8'rac"ingP my role is to sha"e it pP 4GW
conser&ati&e menP not roc"ing people bt pshing them to slightly altered
stateP laghterP -.. peopleP microphoneP relief after doneP #that 'as
ama<ing 'hat yo did$P appropriate bt pshing it a bit
E(perience -) a day ot 'ith my children
He&er CastleP atmn 'ith children! yongest t'o years rnning do'n the
hillP in the #mm8<one$P serenityP energyP e(citementP pro&ided that for
my childrenP #clc"y$P I can do this! this 'or"s sometimesP a lightnessP said
ot lod #+o yo notice ho' nice this isK$P captred the moment for mmP
I had got s thereP ta"en by srpriseP feeling it emergedP there 'as this
feelingP nplanned
Elaine clearly enIoyed re&isiting these special moments in her life! and
after'ards 'as particlarly engaged in tal"ing abot the parts of the e(perience
that had inclded srprise! things emerging and being nplanned! and
ho' she might loo" to create opportnities for more of that "ind of e(perience
in her 'or"%
Parts negotiation
An NLP classic! this e(ercise encapslates many of the principles and presppositions
of both coaching and NLP% Of all the dilemma resoltion e(ercises!
this is the one that can get to the heart of the "ind of dilemma 'here
yor client says something li"e #Dell! part of me really 'ants to do (! bt
another part of me really 'ants to do y%$ The &ast maIority of these dilemmas
re&ol&e arond the dimensions of safety V secrity! "no'n V n"no'n! or
familiarity V ad&entre! bt be prepared to enconter other "inds of
dilemma too% Dhen the dilemma is abot a really important change! the
client can describe feeling torn or t'isted apart! 'rac"ed or tormented by
opposing rges%
The e(ercise begins the process of resol&ing the dilemma in a 'ay that
acti&ely promotes internal congrence% In this e(ercise e&ery #part$ of the self
engaged in the dilemma recei&es conscios ac"no'ledgement and respect!
e&en those parts of the self that are acting! or feeling! a'"'ard or diNclt%
This is a &ery important aspect of the e(ercise! becase it gets completely a'ay
from the idea that #part$ of yo is in the 'rong! or being 'ea"% It therefore
conforms flly to the prespposition that #e&ery beha&ior has a positi&e
intention$! one of the &ery core principles in NLP% No part of the self is
demoni<ed or ridicled%
A potential obstacle to this e(ercise is that for some clients it might seem
some'hat #'ay ot$ or #Ne' Age$% It is an e(ercise that shold be introdced
'ith de attention to the client$s pre&ailing 'orld &ie'! in the interests of
rapport and of ser&ing only the client$s agenda% I remember &i&idly a 'ildly
angry potential client 'ho had come to tal" abot the possibility of being
coached by me saying! as almost her Jrst 'ords! #If yo mention the 'ord
##spirital$$ to me I might pnch yo in the faceQ$ This 'old not be the Jrst
e(ercise yo 'old introdce to a client of this frame of mind%
Richard 'as the NH3 chief e(ecti&e I 'ent throgh the #alter egos$ e(ercise
'ith% He 'as 'restling 'ith ta"ing on a Iob that 'old re:ire him to tra&el
and act in a consltancy rather than an e(ecti&e role% The alter ego e(ercise
'as enogh to gi&e him a good 'or"8throgh of some of the &ales he 'anted
to ha&e e(pressed in his 'or"! bt his essential dilemma! 'hether to change
Iobs! 'as not resol&ed% In his case his dilemma 'as e(pressed in its essence as
#Part of me 'ants to stay 'here I am! doing 'hat I "no'! and another part of
me 'ants to try the ne' role and step into a 'ider sphere%$ He agreed to try
the parts negotiation techni:e%
The parts negotiation techni:e
C As" yor client to name the dilemma they face! in a sentence that
goes #Part of me 'ants a! 'hile another part of me 'ants b%$ Let the
client "no' yo are going to set p a con&ersation bet'een these
C As" the client to go inside themsel&es ,they may 'ish to close their
eyes0 and identify the part of themsel&es that 'ants a% Encorage
them to identify the speciJc location inside themsel&es 'here this
part resides ? clients &irtally al'ays ha&e an instincti&e feel for this!
bt if they do not! as" them to identify 'here the part 'old be if
they did "no' 'here it 'as ? they 'ill get it in the end% Leep the tone
positi&e and cheerfl! and 'or" on the assmption that the
:estions ma"e sense to the client and 'ill elicit the needed response
? in short! be conJdent yorself so that the client 'ill feel conJdent%
C As" them to identify 'hat the part that 'ants a loo"s li"e! sonds
li"e and feels li"e% =o 'ill need to be prepared for &irtally anything
? clients ha&e &ariosly reported to me that the #part$ is a little person!
a color! one of a &ariety of abstract shapes! cartoon faces! or Ist
a particlar feeling or sond% 3ggest they say #hello$ to the part! and
establish some rapport 'ith it) again! some clients may thin" this a
little odd at Jrst! and if necessary repeat for them that the e(ercise is
based on the establishment of internal rapport%
C As" yor client to as" this part 'hat it is trying to do for them ? 'hat its
positi&e intention is% Get them to listen to the response the part gi&es
and then than" the part for 'hat it is intending to do on their behalf%
C Get yor client to as" the part that 'ants a 'hat it thin"s abot the
part that 'ants b% Ac"no'ledge its opinion! and let it "no' yo 'ill
be bac" to tal" to it in a 'hile%
C Repeat all the abo&e for the part that 'ants b%
C Get yor client to as" frther :estions to each part abot 'hat each
is fndamentally trying to do on their behalf% Bor each ans'er oMered
by each part ? often it is something &ery fndamental li"e gro'th!
secrity or happiness ? get the client to as" 'hat that is trying to do%
6ltimately both the parts 'ill recogni<e they are loo"ing for some of
the same things for yor client ? they ha&e interests in common%
C Get yor client to as" each part in trn if they are 'illing to tal"
together to Jnd a 'ay for'ard on the dilemma ? the #parts$ may
initially be relctant! and if so! get yor client to reassre them that
they ,the client0 respect both parts flly and 'ill be impartial%
C Get the client to as" each part 'here it 'old feel comfortable to
ha&e a con&ersation abot the dilemma%
C Get yor client to ha&e the parts meet together inside% Their Iob is
going to be to ha&e a discssion abot the dilemma 'ith a &ie' to
Jnding a 'ay for'ard%
C In the interests of internal ecology! get yor client to chec" rond
inside themsel&es for any other #part$ that may obIect to the meeting
? this has ne&er happened in my e(perience bt it reassres the client
that yo are thin"ing abot their 'hole 'ellbeing%
C Get yor client to lea&e the parts alone for a time! 'hile reassring
them they ,the client0 'ill be bac" to chec" ot their ans'er in a
gi&en time ? perhaps an hor! or a day ? 'hate&er the client thin"s is
C Hold yor client accontable for meeting the appointment% They 'ill
need to go bac" inside and Jnd ot 'hat the t'o parts ha&e come p
Richard$s #parts$ 'ere interesting and fll of character) he represented the
internal con2ict as something li"e a medie&al cort drama% The part that
'anted Richard to stay 'here he 'as! 'as represented as the "ing of the cort%
As the master of the domain he 'as happy 'ith his po'er and 'ith the
familiarity of his realm! and 'as 'orried at the prospect of losing his
n:estioned athority% *t he also felt a little constrained by the metaphorical
gates of the "ingdom%
The part that 'anted to mo&e on 'as a "ind of cort 'i<ard! a 7erlin
Jgre 'ho Jrmly 'anted ad&entre otside the gates of the "ingdom and
'ho 'as "een to test ot his "no'ledge and his s"ills in other lands) formal
athority 'as less of an isse for him becase he felt his personal po'er to be
in&ested in his s"ills and "no'ledge%
Each part 'as initially some'hat sceptical of the other! bt they disco&ered
throgh the process of internal con&ersation that both had in common
a 'ish for sccess for Richard! an important part of 'hich 'as a desire
for high professional stats% In this particlar instance money played an
important part becase the higher salary on oMer in Richard$s potential ne'
Iob represented sccess and stats to both parts ? this 'as the common
grond% He resol&ed to ta"e the ne' Iob%
There are nmeros 'ays of t'ea"ing the techni:e% Bor e(ample! if the
client reports that the #parts$ seem nsre ho' to get into a con&ersation! or
are stc" for ideas! yo can sggest contacting another internal #part$! perhaps
a 'ise or creati&e part! 'hose Iob it is to #facilitate$ the internal process)
sometimes clients ha&e achie&ed &ery speciJc reslts 'hen I ha&e sggested
they set the #facilitator$ part a set tas"! sch as getting the other t'o parts to
agree! say! three ideas for the 'ay for'ard in the agreed time% The core
principles of see"ing internal rapport and congrence are e(actly the same as
the parts negotiation e(ercise! as is mch of the techni:e%
1lie 'as a yong mar"eting specialist 'or"ing for a small bt sccessfl
media company! 'hose isse 'as not so mch a dilemma as a relctance to
engage in the &ery necessary tas" of organi<ing herself domestically ? a srprisingly
common isse among sccessfl career8people% 1lie simply did not
li"e doing any hose'or" at all and 'as only prepared to pay for a limited
amont of domestic help! 'hich meant she still li&ed in too mch mess% As
'e discssed the isse! it began to e(press itself as a classic parts di&ision) #Part
of me really 'ants to get organi<ed bt another part of me Ist 'ants to chill
ot and rela( 'hen I$m at home%$
De 'ent throgh the stages of contacting the t'o parts% 1lie sa' her
#'ants to be organi<ed$ part as something of a #goody8goody$ in the domestic
conte(t! dressed as a school prefect and 'ith a rather stern e(pression% Her
#Ist 'ant to chill ot$ part 'as by contrast a 'ild pn" roc"er ? leather Iac"et!
+oc 7arten boots and dyed hair% Not srprisingly! the t'o parts 'ere not
getting on that 'ell o&er that particlar isse% De called in the ser&ices of a
third internal part 'e called her creati&e part% #He$ ,internal parts seem to be
interchangeable in terms of gender0 'as gi&en the Iob of coming p 'ith
three diMerent 'ays that 'old meet the needs of both the other parts%
In fact! he only needed one idea to come p 'ith a soltion 'ith 'hich
both 1lie$s other internal parts 'ere happy% This 'as for her to do hose'or"
to lod roc" msic) this 'ay the #pn"$ part 'as happy she 'as ha&ing fn
and the #prefect$ 'as pleased to get the place tidied p%
Another &ariation! or e&en addition! to the techni:e is to bring in a
physical dimension! sing the metaphor of #on the one hand$ and #on the
other hand$ in an e(plicitly physical 'ay% Get the client to locate the t'o
con2icting positions ,e%g% #secrity$ &erss #ad&entre$ in the hands themsel&es!
so that each hand physically represents one of the parts% Get the client
to hold their hands in front of them! and as" each handOpart 'hat their
positi&e intention is% Get the client to contine as"ing probing :estions
abot these positi&e intentions ntil they Jnd ot the common grond! i%e%
'hat the parts are both ltimately trying to achie&e! for e(ample a high8le&el
otcome sch as #happiness$% Get the client to imagine the #secrity$ and the
#ad&entre$ ,for e(ample0 hands coming together to create a ne' combined or
#sper$ part representing #happiness$% Binally! get the client to bring their
hands to'ards their chest and symbolically #integrate$ the ne' sper part!
lea&ing it to do its 'or"%
The Jne detail of techni:e is easy to manage if the follo'ing principles
are "ept to)
C Remember that e&ery beha&ior has a positi&e intention%
C Ta"e the troble to create rapport at all points ? internal rapport is as
important as e(ternal rapport%
C Ecological soltions are the only ones that stic"! so ma"e sre that
'hate&er comes ot of the e(ercise chimes 'ell 'ith the 'hole
person and the system they li&e in%
C Allo' a little playflness and se langage that sggests the client
'ill be able to do the &isali<ation :ite easily%
Time8line 'or"
The 'ay 'e thin" abot time and represent it to orsel&es throgh or senses
&aries enormosly from person to person% I remember ho' shoc"ed I 'as
RE3OL5ING +ILE77A3 >>4
'hen I Jrst learned this ? I had ne&er really thoght abot it! and had
assmed that the 'ay 'e managed time in or heads 'as mch the same for
all of s! e(cept perhaps for the fact that 'e placed diMerent &ales on
pnctality% Ho'e&er! 'or"ing 'ith other stdents on a corse helped me to
reali<e that 'e represent time in hgely diMerent 'ays% Dhat is more! the 'ay
in 'hich 'e represent time has a big impact on ho' 'e manage orsel&es and
thin" abot orsel&es! inclding ho' 'e respond to dilemmas%
De manage concepts of past and ftre in distinct 'ays% Bor some of s!
the ftre is a pictre some distance in front of s! for others it may be a
pictre placed to or left or right% 3imilarly the past may be represented as
literally behind s or to or right or left% The &isal &ariations are many in
terms of distance! si<e! color and clarity of pictre! to name bt a fe' possibilities%
Or emotional responses to these pictres of past and ftre &ary
enormosly too%
Try ans'ering these :estions for yorself)
C Pictre a pleasant memory from yesterday% Dhere is it in relation to
yoK Close byK +istantK *ehind yo or to the sideK
C +itto a pleasant memory from si( months ago%
C +itto ten years ago%
C +itto from early childhood%
C Pictre something yo are anticipating 'ith pleasre tomorro'%
Dhere is this image in relation to yoK Close byK +istantK In front of
yo or to the sideK
C +itto something pleasant a fe' months in the ftre%
C +itto something se&eral years in the ftre%
=o might li"e to dra' ot the shape of yor personal time8line on paper% I
sometimes get clients to ta"e a piece of paper and dra' a small pictre of the
top of their head in the middle ,nose pointing north0! and then get them to
ans'er the :estions abo&e and mar" ot on the paper the points 'here they
pictre the past and ftre! sing an appro(imate scale of measrement% They
can then #Ioin the dots$ to get a general idea of ho' their personal line shapes
p% It can ta"e practice to establish the patterns by 'hich yo personally
order and represent time% 7ost people seem to ha&e either a frontObac"
system ,in 'hich the ftre is in front and the past behind0! or a leftOright
system ,in 'hich the past is sally to the left and the ftre to the right0%
3ome clients 'ill see a year a'ay in the ftre or the past as being literally
miles a'ay from them! 'hile others might pictre it as being Ist a fe' metres
a'ay or less) the degree of &ariation from person to person really is stri"ing%
Occasionally a client 'ill simply not relate to the 'hole concept of time
ha&ing a recogni<able spatial element for them! perhaps instead asserting that
all their memories and thoghts abot the ftre are in the same place! inside
their head% I ha&e not generally fond it sefl to persist do'n this line of
en:iry 'hen the client is at all relctant! becase it may be that they ha&e an
intellectal resistance to something they regard as northodo(% 7aintaining
rapport and the conJdence of the client is almost al'ays more important
than insisting pon a particlar techni:e% Ho'e&er! the maIority of clients
'ill begin to :ic"ly recogni<e at least some of the main 'ays in 'hich they
'or" 'ith! or represent! time% At the &ery least 'e as coaches need to
recogni<e that 'e 'ill all ha&e a diMerent relationship to time! and shold not
assme that ho' 'e organi<e time orsel&es is li"ely to be shared by or
3ometimes or langage can sggest a lot abot the 'ays in 'hich 'e
habitally relate to time! 'hen 'e se phrases sch as)
C loo"ing for'ard to something
C ptting something behind yo
C loo"ing a long 'ay ahead
C lea&ing isses to one side%
3ometimes a client 'ill oMer yo big cles as to ho' they are managing their
relationship to time 'hen they se their hands to illstrate 'hat they are
saying! for e(ample by gestring o&er their sholder 'hen tal"ing abot the
past or by 'a&ing a hand to the right or left 'hen tal"ing abot past or ftre%
Practical applications of the time8line
3ometimes 'hen a client seems stc" or is 'restling 'ith a dilemma! time! or
their perception of it as it applies to them! is the hidden case of the isse%
Typically this in&ol&es ho' they thin" abot the ftre) for e(ample! 'hen
the #near$ ftre seems to them to be miles a'ay! this may e(plain 'hy they
do not seem moti&ated to do any planning or ta"e any action to prepare for it%
3san 'as a trainer 'or"ing in management de&elopment% Her career 'as
de&eloping some'hat slo'ly in her estimation! bt she 'as not really sre
'hy% It emerged that she had ne&er really planned for the ftre! bt tended
Ist to li&e on a day8by8day basis! and she had begn to notice a degree of
dissatisfaction 'ith this% Her e(pressed dilemma 'as 'hat to do ne(t in
de&eloping her career% I introdced the idea of time8lines to her becase I had
a hnch that her lac" of planning and dynamism in de&eloping her career
might in part at least be related to her perception of herself in relation to
time% 3san fond the idea fascinating! and 'e 'ent throgh an e(ercise
sing the :estions otlined abo&e in 'hich she plotted ot her o'n timeline!
past and ftre% The reslts of this 'ere a re&elation to her% It seemed her
#past$ time8line appeared as a steep cr&e behind her% This ga&e her the
'orrying sensation that she 'as #falling$ from her past! and this falling sensation
ga&e her the feeling that she cold not really e(ercise control o&er her
life and career% At the same time her ftre line seemed to stretch miles ahead
of her! to the point that anything more than a fe' 'ee"s seemed an irrele&ant
distance ahead and not really 'orth thin"ing abot in detail or 'ith any
rgency% De discssed 'hat 'old be a more helpfl representation of time!
and in the end I as"ed her to imagine t'o important adIstments to her timeline%
Birst! I sggested to 3san that she imagine her #past$ line le&elling ot
behind her! and 'hen she did this she said it made her feel less an(ios abot
the past and mch more in control of her life% Ne(t I as"ed her to imagine
that her ftre 'as literally mo&ing to'ards her! in the sense of getting
physically nearer% 3san fond this :ite an emotionally mo&ing e(perience!
recogni<ing that her ftre 'as in fact directly #'ithin her grasp$ ,her 'ords0%
3he seemed hgely relie&ed that she 'as able to e(ercise far more control o&er
both her feelings abot the past and her ability to plan for the ftre% De
'ent on to discss her career direction dilemmas 'ith a far greater sense of
energy and focs on her part%
This e(ample is Ist abot raising a'areness of time8lines 'ith yor
clients and gi&ing them a sense of choice and control o&er their personal
e(perience of time% Other isses in&ol&ing time8lines can be more comple(
and emotionally charged! particlarly 'here nhappy memories are concerned%
Bor mch greater depth on this sbIect I 'old recommend yo read
Time Line Therapy and the *asis of Personality by Tad 1ames and Dyatt
Doodsmall ,>A@A0% This boo" e(plains many far more sophisticated techni:es
in&ol&ing time8lines! inclding some #:ic" therapy$ techni:es that
in&ol&e mo&ing bac" throgh yor time8line to disco&er the original sorce of
an an(iety or fear in order to do some #re8scripting$ of yor e(perience% There
is also some interesting e(ploration of cltral dimensions of time! and some
ideas connected to reincarnation that may challenge or irritate%
@ End note
On the sbIect of time! yo ha&e to ma"e coaching choices
right in the moment
6ltimately the choice of techni:e! or &ariation 'ithin it! at any gi&en
moment! is a Idgement call for the coach% This is tre of all coaching
scenarios! and is 'hat ma"es coaching something that cannot be learned
prely from boo"s! becase it is something li&e! dynamic and immediate%
Coaches need to learn to 'or" in the reality of the moment! 'ith most of
their attention focsed directly on the client! not in the realms of theory% The
Jnest learning en&ironment for coaching is the coaching room itself% This
does not mean yor clients are merely ginea pigs on 'hich yo test ot yor
s"ills and techni:es! bt it does mean yo 'ill only come to de&elop yor
Idgement of 'hat to do! and 'hen to do it! from lengthy practice% E&ery
moment of e&ery session in&ol&es choice for the coach in terms of ho' yo
beha&e) these choices need to be 'eighed p against many factors! inclding
client beha&ior! mood and energy! the :ality of rapport! the aims of the
session! self8management isses! time factors! ra' instinct! and a host of other
&ariables that are in constant 2( and motion% Only coaching in the 2esh and
in the moment can aid yo in the de&elopment of yor conJdence and
sreness of tochP bt as these srely gro' in yor o'n coaching! hopeflly
the ideas in this boo" 'ill add to the Jlters thogh 'hich yo reach yor
coaching decisions and add a little more to yor repertoire of choice%
*andler! R% and Grinder! 1% ,>A4A0 Brogs into Princes! 7oab! 6T) Real People Press%
*entley! T% ,-..-0 A Toch of 7agic! Glocestershire) The 3pace *et'een
Csi"s<entmihalyi! 7% and Csi"s<entmihalyi! I% ,>A@@0 Optimal E(perience! Cambridge
6ni&ersity Press%
+ilts! R% ,>AA/0 5isionary Leadership 3"ills! Capitola! CA) 7eta Pblications%
Gall'ey! D%T%! ,>A@/0 The Inner Game of Tennis! London) Pan 7acmillan%
Gilpin! A% ,>AA@0 6nstoppable People! London) Random Hose%
Goleman! G% ,>AA/0 Emotional Intelligence! London) *loomsbry%
Ha&ens! R%A% ,>A@G0 The Disdom of 7ilton H% Eric"son! Ne' =or" Ir&ington%
1ames! T% and Doodsmall! D% ,>A@A0 Time Line Therapy and the *asis of Personality!
Capitola! CA) 7eta Pblications%
1eMers! 3% ,>AA40 Beel the Bear and +o It Any'ay! London) Rider%
Lnight! 3% ,>AAG0 NLP at Dor"! London) Nicholas *realey%
La"oM! G% and 1ohnson! 7% ,>A@>0 7etaphors De Li&e *y! 6ni&ersity of Chicago
7c+ermott! I% and 1ago! D% ,-..>0 The NLP Coach! London) Piat"s%
7cLenna! P% ,-../0 Instant ConJdence! London) *antam%
7organ! G% ,>AA40 Images of Organi<ation! Thosand Oa"s! CA) 3AGE%
O$Connor! 1% and Lages! A% ,-..E0 Coaching 'ith NLP! London) Element%
O$Connor! 1% and 3eymor! 1% ,>AAE0 Training 'ith NLP! London) Thorsons%
Rogers! C%R% ,>AG>0 Client Centred Therapy! *oston! 7A) Hoghton 7iXin%
Rogers! 1% ,-..E0 Coaching 3"ills) A Handboo"! 7aidenhead) Open 6ni&ersity Press%
3eligman! 7% ,-..F0 Athentic Happiness! London) Nicholas *realey%
Page nmbers in italics refer to Jgres
ac"no'ledgement F-
ad&ice! a&oiding oMering @! G-
#alter egos$ >./?>>
anchoring /A?4F
techni:e 4>?F
angerOaggression EF?E! 4E?G! AG?/
appropriateness of beha&ior -@
asserti&eness approach G>?-
#associated$ &s #dissociated$ states 4-
athenticity >F! FG
*andler! Richard >E! G>?-
beha&ior AF! AE
appropriateness of -@
habital &s natral FE
ne' --?F
positi&e intention of -4?@! E.
A*C+E model >.-?F
challenging >..?-
self8limiting GF! GE! A/?4
and sensory systems A@?A
&ales and >G! FF! FE! A-?F! AG
see also meta8patternsOmeta8model
#blind spots$ A
body langage -G
eye mo&ements E4! E@
interpretation of F/?4
matching FG! F/?4
'ell8formed otcomes process @A
bllying EF?E
calibrationO#tning in$ ->! F-! FE
capabilities AF! AE
fear of >G
incremental 44?A
ma"es change -/?4
negati&e GE
and ne' beha&iors --?F
self and other GG
'ell8formed otcomes process @A
Chartered Institte of Personnel and
+e&elopment ,CIP+0 F
#chec" in$! on nconscios processes 4G
choice >G?>/! -.
and timing >-.?>
reasons for see"ing coaching @?A! @-?F
relationship 'ith coach see rapportP
core s"ills >.?>>
deJnition of F?4
gro'th of F?E
and NLP >/! -A
as process not content 4
sessions A?>.
meaning! interpretation and response
non8&erbal -G
conJdence /G?A
and the coach @.?>
common isses /4
deJnition of /4?A
and incremental change 44?A
and internal &oice 4G?4! @.! @>
and performance! #three demons$ of 4F?
and positi&e &isalisation 4A?@.
and strategic decision8ma"ing /A
see also anchoring
congrence and rapport F4?@! >>F?>E
connectedness A-
and appropriateness of beha&ior -@
'ell8formed otcomes process @/! @@
see also physical conte(tP sensory
contracts A! >/?>4
control! 'ell8formed otcomes process
@/! @@
core beliefs see beliefs
core coaching s"ills >.?>>
core identity A-! AF! AG
conselling G?/! A
criticism! responses to -4?@! EF
Csi"s<entmihalyi! 7% and I% /@
decision8ma"ing and conJdence /A
deletions A@! AA
dilemma resoltion techni:es >.E?->
#alter egos$O#fantasy Jgres$ >./?>>
#name it! claim it! tame it and aim it$
parts negotiation >>F?>4
#pea" e(perience$ >>>?>F
time8line 'or" >>4?->
+ilts! Robert >E! A-
from dilemmas >.G
&s #associated$ states 4-
distortions A@! AA?>..
Eistein! Albert >G
emotional intelligence ,EI0 F?E! G>
empathy E.?>! G/?4
en&ironment AF! AE
Eri"sson! 3&en8GoUran 44
Erri"sson! 7ilton >4
eye mo&ements E4! E@
failre! as learning opportnity -A
#fantasy Jgres$ >./?>>
fear of change >G
failre as -A
lac" of -G
response to commnication -G?/
Jnancial isses @/! @@! >.>
2e(ibility EA! G-?F
#2o'$ state /@! >>-
ftre pacing >4
Gall'ey! Timothy G
generalisations A@?A
Gestalt therapy GE
Gilpin! Adrian A-?F
Grinder! 1ohn >E
grop 'or" 4! /F?E
#gr$ NLP trainers >-?>F
habital &s natral beha&iors FE
identity A-! AF! AG
#impostor syndrome$ /4
incremental change 44?A
intellectal resistance to nconscios
mind programming /G?/
intentions! positi&e -4?@! E.
internal &oice 4G?4! @.! @>
of body langage F/?4
of commnication -G?/
of personal #reality$ >G?>/! >A?-.
1ames! T% and Doodsmall! D% >-.
and eye mo&ements E4! E@
impact on rapport G.
matching EE?G
self8limiting A@
and sensory systems E/?4! G.
and time perception >>A
see also body langage
leading see matching?pacing?leading
logical le&els model A-?F
#loneliness preparation$ G>?-
7cLenna! Pal /G! /@! 4A
7anagement Btres Ltd E?G! /! @-
matching FE?/! F4
body langage FG! F/?4
and empathy E.?>
metaphors and langage patterns EE?G
mismatching e(ercise F@?E.
not mimicry E.
matching?pacing?leading techni:e
E>?E! E4
meaning see beliefsP &ales
memory! se of 4-
see also time8line 'or"
mental rehearsal techni:es 4A?@.
mentoring and coaching G! /
#meta8mirror$ techni:e GE?/.! @>
e(amples />?G
steps GG?/.
&ariations and adaptations /G
meta8patternsOmeta8model AE?4
challenges to A@?>.F
metaphors! matching EE?G
mind?body interaction -F?E! F4?@
modelling >G! ->?-
mood and sensory systems EA
mtal frstration GF
#name it! claim it! tame it and aim it$
approach >.E?/
negati&e anchors 4.?>
negati&e assmptions see self8limiting
negati&e change GE
negati&e mood! matching E>?-
nero8lingistic programming ,NLP0
approaches to relationships G-?E
choice in >G?>/! -.
and coaching >/
deJnitions of >>?>F! >E
#indstry$ and #grs$ >-?>F
origins of >E?>G
presppositions >/! >A?-A
as process not content 4
ne' beha&iors! and change --?F
non8&erbal commnication see body
#ndge on the tiller$ approach 44?A
#optimm arosal$ /@
client isses in @?A! @-?F
coaching in F?E
relationship isses in G>
otcomes see 'ell8formed otcomes
ftre >4
matching?pacing?leading techni:e
E>?E! E4
parts negotiation >>F?>4
#pea" e(perience$ techni:e >>>?>F
#perceptal positions$ see #meta8mirror$
performance! #three demons$ of 4F?G
personal organisation isses 44?A
personal resorces -E?G! G@?A! /.! @.?>!
personal &ersion of #reality$ >G?>/! >A?-.
physical conte(t
of conJdence /@! /A! 4F?G! @>
mind?body interaction -F?E! F4?@
'ell8formed otcomes process A.?>
see also body langage
positi&e anchors 4>
positi&e intentions -4?@! E.
positi&e otcome thin"ing @G! @/?4
#positi&e psychology$ mo&ement >.-
positi&e &isalisation 4A?@.
presppositions ,NLP0 >/! >A?-A
problem8focsed thin"ing @G?/
process not content! coaching and NLP as
psychotherapy G?/! A! F.
prposeOspiritality A-! AF! AG
rapport -.?>
congrence and F4?@! >>F?>E
deJnition of F>?-
impact of langage G.
natre of FF?E
see also matchingP relationships
#reality$! personal &ersion of >G?>/! >A?-.
reassrance F-
recognition F-
client?coach >F! >@
NLP approaches to G-?E
non8NLP approaches to G>?-
see also matchingP rapport
rela(ation 4-! 4A
resorces! personal -E?G! G@?A! /.! @.?>!
respect F>! E.! G-
response see feedbac"
Rogers! Carl -G
Rogers! 1enny /?4! -A! E-
self! detached G@! GA! /.
self8a'areness 4.?>
self8flJlling prophecies A/
self8limiting beliefs GF! GE! A/?4
see also beliefsP meta8patternsOmetamodel
self8limiting langage A@
sensory conte(tOsystems >G?>/
and belief system A@?A
of conJdence /@! /A?4.! 4-?F
and eye mo&ements E4! E@
2e(ible approach to EA
and langage E/?4
and mood EA
'ell8formed otcomes process @4?@
spiritalityOprpose A-! AF! AG
spontaneity 44?@
sports G
stage fright! #meta8mirror$ techni:e
#stc"ness$ -.! @.
smmarising F-
time factors! 'ell8formed otcomes
process @/! @@
time8line 'or" >>4?->
#to'ards?a'ay from$ continm AE?4
#tning in$Ocalibration ->! F-! FE
#t'o8chair 'or"$ see #meta8mirror$
nconscios processes FE! F@! E.
#chec" in$ on 4G
and intellectal resistance /G?/
#alter8ego$ techni:e >.A?>>
and beliefs >G! FF! FE! A-?F! AG
'ell8formed otcomes process @/! @@?A
&isalisation techni:es 4A?@.
internal 4G?4! @.! @>
matching FG?/
&on 6hde! Ale( >E
'ell8formed otcomes process GF! @E?A.
physical dimensions A.?>
'orthiness of goals! 'ell8formed
otcomes process @/! @@
>-/ IN+ET
NLP Coaching Y
Dhat are the lin"s bet'een NLP ,Nero8Lingistic Programming0
and coachingK
Y Ho' can an NLP8in2enced approach help to coach clients
Y Ho' can a coach se NLP approaches 'ith conJdenceK
This boo" is a practical gide for e(ecti&e coaches 'ho 'old li"e
to introdce elements of NLP into their coaching% NLP can be sed
to help indi&idals attain high performance in their li&es and 'or"!
and this boo" allo's practising coaches to tilise an NLP approach
to achie&e otstanding reslts for their e(ecti&e clients%
*ased pon s"ills de&eloped by the athor o&er many years! the
boo" describes a practical NLP8in2enced approach to some of the
isses that arise most fre:ently in e(ecti&e coaching! sch as)
Y Career or life de&elopment isses
Y Isses of conJdence in the 'or"place
Y Relationship isses
Y Goal8setting
Y Resoltion of dilemmas
There is a clear description of 'hat e(ecti&e coaching actally is!
and a similar description of NLP! pls an accont of 'hat these
ha&e in common and ho' they can complement each other% 3ome
of the possible pitfalls that can arise in trying the techni:es are
also inclded! in order that coaches can a&oid mista"es in their se%
Isses are illstrated throghot sing case stdies! diagrams and
e(amples of real coaching e(periences%
NLP Coaching 'ill help practising! professional e(ecti&e and life
coaches achie&e otstanding reslts for their clients! and pro&ides
essential reading for practitioners and stdents of NLP 'ho need
a practical gide on ho' to se their s"ills in a coaching conte(t%
Phil Hayes is an E(ecti&e +irector of 7anagement Btres Ltd%!
a company oMering e(ecti&e coaching! coach training! and other
organi<ational de&elopment tools% Bormerly Head of 7anagement
Training for the **C! Phil has been 'or"ing in the Jeld of leadership
de&elopment since >A@@ and has e(tensi&e e(perience of coaching
sing NLP 'ith a 'ide range of clients%
A 4@.FFG --.GAG
I3*N .8FFG8--.GA8-
NLP Coaching