NLP - how it was I got to the root of the issue

26 Feb 2014

Yesterday I was working with a client, and at the end of the session he asked me how it was I got to the root of his issue - "I thought I was choosing my words very carefully, but you have picked up on things I haven’t spoken about for 20 years. How did you do that?"

I’ll be honest, I had to think for a moment but when I rewound the tape it was my NLP training that enabled this. There were several non-verbal clues that helped, (I am going to use some NLP phraseology which I'll explain) -

  1. I used an NLP Model to describe the way in which I work and how the nurture side of personality is formed. This isn’t the law but it is a useful metaphor to get the client thinking about his or her past experiences, which may be causing the current issue:
    • Age 0 – 7 is the Imprint Phase. This is when we accept what we are told as fact. We haven’t yet developed an analytical mind, e.g. if you are told that you are poor at maths, you believe that to be true. A limiting belief is born. 
    • Age 7 – 14 is the Modelling Phase. We copy the behaviour of those around us, e.g. if you were brought up by a parent that lacked confidence you too could take on those characteristics as a child.
    • Age 14 – 21 is the Socialisation Phase. This is when we are influenced by our peers. Getting in with the wrong crowd is a phrase that springs to mind here!
  2. I was able to pick up on his issue as a result of really listening to his voice tone changes and by tracking his language patterns. Certain words, phrases and sentences seemed more emotionally charged than others, so that’s what I went after!
  3. He used a lot of analogue markings. He kept referring to a ‘block’ and as he did this, he moved his hands in a block-like gesture in front of his chest. At that point I knew his problem was ‘real’ for him.  I could also tell when he was referring to his past, present and future, by again watching the direction of his hands as he was talking. We refer to this in NLP as our 'Timeline'.
  4. I was tracking his Eye Accessing Cues - our eyes move in certain directions when we are accessing something that actually happened versus something that we made up or created. Our eyes go to the left when we are recalling memories and go to the right when we are constructing. He referred to the fact that he was choosing his words very carefully and using this NLP Model, I could tell when he was masking certain feelings.
  5. Following the intervention his hands moved forward and back through the ‘block’. This was my clue that his issue had been resolved. In NLP, we test our work after we have used a technique.

Whilst it seems like there was a lot going on during this session you would be amazed how seamlessly NLP skills blend into your coaching practice – it’s that ‘unconscious competence!’