- Identify what is the generic “skill” that they are displaying here? In my examples it was concern or worry for someone they are involved with (a staff member, daughter etc).
- Get clear on a plausible, appropriate and more positive outcome, which you want the person to focus on instead. In my examples of worrying, I took the view that this was to come to acknowledge the capabilities of that person (latent or otherwise); eg to learn and to improve, or to handle what comes up.
- The third step is to acknowledge the skill, which validates it instead of opposing it.
- Utilise the “skill” by turning it back on itself; eg. to worry about worrying, which both accepts the skill and moves the focus to worrying about something more important.
Friday, September 6, 2013
Linguistic “Tai Chi” – happy and effective persuasion
At a recent networking event, I got chatting to a chap about how to handle someone who tends to worry too much. And since I am the local “happiness guy”, he asked me for a tip for handling it better. Whilst he had a family matter in mind, the same could apply to anyone who tends to worry too much about the adequate performance of others; for example, about staff making mistakes with clients, or worrying about delegating tasks - which comes up a lot in small businesses as they grow.
One of big ideas of the famous hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson MD, was to view anything that someone does as a wonderful resource, no matter what it is, even if it appears to be a problem. Like worrying. He would then find a way to make use of it (“ultilisation”), rather than confronting it where this only tends to make things worse (like trying to reassure a good worrier that things will be alright.)
It’s a kind of gentle linguistic Aikido, or Tai Chi – in which you go with the flow of something and nudge it in a new direction, rather than standing in front of a moving object and perhaps getting knocked over.
Back to the chap in the networking meeting, for a moment. He told me how his wife was fretting over his daughter, Sam, going off to University. He had tried reassuring her, but that tended to lead her to counter by listing her imagined worries in even more detail, which only made her feel even worse.
Here’s the example I offered him to try with his wife: “I know that you worry about our daughter, which is only natural. Perhaps you had better be even more concerned that you don’t let her get the idea that you really don’t believe in her ability to handle whatever she faces in life? That would really undermine her strength and ability, wouldn’t it?” Do you see what this does?
Applying this to the case of delegating, here’s an example you might try: “I know you worry about [name] making a mistake. Perhaps you should worry even more about letting [name] get the idea that you don’t believe in his/her ability to learn? That really would be something to worry about, wouldn’t it?”
Do you begin to see the pattern? There are three steps, focused on the person you want to influence:
With ingenuity, you can do this with almost any “problem” behaviour trait. Take people who become all self-conscious, eg. when talking to groups. You might try, ”Because you are sensitive, you can be really aware of how others are feeling, can’t you? -Which is really caring. In fact, could you not really get absorbed in doing what it takes to help those you are speaking feel more comfortable?” Beginning to get the idea?
This is an example of a number of things we teach in the use of language aspect of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), specifically reframing, utilisation and how to create beneficial “binds.” If you want to run an example by me to see if we can create a response to a situation that you are facing, send me an email and I’ll have a go.