‘Mechanics of Why’

This fantastic business resource is NOW AVAILABLE as a FREE web-book

 

It’s taken many years (indeed some people may have thought it would never happen!), but now its here! 

Co-authored by Ian Ross and Brian Wood ‘Mechanics of Why’ is a comprehensive business toolkit – and as the introduction states…

“This book is about how crucial things work in our business and personal lives – the things that aren’t covered well in business training, but are essential if we want to achieve a high and sustainable level of performance.”

Take a look (www.mechanicsofwhy.com) and please tell us what you think – we eagerly await your comments and ideas for additional chapters/topics.

Fascinating TED Talk on Neuroscience

Beware ‘Neuro Bunk’…

One of the most important aspects of our approach to NLP over the years, has been to study the scientific background to its tools and concepts, and incorporate this into the way we present its practical applications and relevance – particularly in a business context.

Now it seems that  ‘NLP and Neuroscience’ has become the latest ‘thing’ – and while we welcome this in principle, we have also been concerned that because it is ‘fashionable’ it may be treated in an over-simplified and superficial manner, in much the same way that the potential value of NLP itself has been diluted over the years because of poor practise.

Which is why we were so interested to see this TED Talk from Neuroscientist Molly Crockett, which suggests taking the same cautious view of the populist approach…

http://www.ted.com/talks/molly_crockett_beware_neuro_bunk.html

 

Key Skills and Attributes in 21st Century Leadership

Developing Today’s Leaders

Life as a leader of a team/organisation can be an isolated place – you are expected to have all the answers, and yet opportunities to review and develop your leadership skills can be scarce and the likelihood of receiving useful feedback is often not high

Our approach to leadership development recognises that many of the assumptions and beliefs people hold about leaders and leadership are either wrong, or out of date.  For example, the idea that all leaders are charismatic extroverts has been shown to be false.

For that reason our Leadership Programmes look at the ways leadership styles and methodologies have changed over the years and, in particular, how the problems and opportunities facing tomorrow’s leaders might be addressed successfully.Teamwork

Our experience of working with successful clients from both government and private sectors, together with analysis of the best of academic research has led us to identify a number of key factors that seem to determine the most effective leadership attributes:

  • The “best” leadership style is context dependent. The leader must be able to adapt his or her style to suit the opportunities and pressures as they arise.
  • Exemplary leaders combine the ability to define a future vision and strategy with the listening and communication skills necessary to engage and motivate those who will deliver it. Interpersonal and listening skills related to the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) of the leaders are becoming progressively more important as the need to ensure engagement and commitment of staff increases.
  • As with so many other areas, the balancing of advocacy with enquiry requires each leader to know where she or he stands personally. If there is a strong preference one way or the other, they will require practice to ensure that when they are using the other approach that they are “congruent”. In other words, their words, tone and body language and values systems are all aligned.
  • Self-awareness and the ability to prioritise, especially when under pressure, are very important as they have a direct effect on personal stress levels, work/life balance and overall effectiveness.
  • The skill and courage to hold people accountable can be one of the most challenging characteristics to uphold, especially when it runs counter to prevailing culture.
  • The willingness and ability to coach members of the team is of high value, especially when performance improvement is required.
  • Leaders need to be “authentic” (have undisputed credibility) – this often means that they are willing to show vulnerability where appropriate and are transparent in their dealings. In a comprehensive survey first published in 1993 conducted in the USA, the four most important leadership characteristics were: Honesty, Forward Looking, Inspiring and Competent.   This means that in many cases a fundamental shift in attitudes and approach will be necessary to maximise future potential.

 

 

 

Interview with Ian Ross by Roman Braun of ECNLP

Hear Ian demonstrate his highly effective model for conflict resolution…

In an interview with Roman Braun of ECNLP,  Ian explains his approach to conflict situations and talks through a live example with Roman.  In doing so, he facilitates Roman to new insights and outcomes for resolving what had been an intractable and challenging situation.

Listen to the interview here (ECNLP Interview) which lasts about 40 mins.   While listening you’ll also find it helpful to look at the model itself and the questioning structure Ian is using, which you will find here 

As you’ll discover, the approach demonstrated here is one that can be used in any conflict situation – whether that is between two or more parties, or an internal dilemma you are facing, or even a goal or outcome that you have so far been unable to achieve.  It can also be used in a conversational manner – whether or not the ‘client’ has any experience of NLP.

TED Talks

Two new and fascinating TED Talks – ideas that can make a real difference…

Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions.

Shawn Achor – The Happy Secret to Better Work

http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html

We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity.

Shawn Achor is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard. He is the CEO of Good Think Inc., a Cambridge-based consulting firm which researches positive outliers — people who are well above average — to understand where human potential, success and happiness intersect. Based on his research and 12 years of experience at Harvard, he clearly and humorously describes to organizations how to increase happiness and meaning, raise success rates and profitability, and create positive transformations that ripple into more successful cultures.

TED Talks

Watch Brene Brown on TED Talks

Her insights on ‘Vulnerability’ are poignant, informative and highly entertaining.  Watch it here  …and if you like this, you’ll also appreciate her talk on ‘Listening to Shame’

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:

How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

 

TOP Tips No. 15 – The 'State' is Key

One of the most important factors in determining a successful outcome for yourself, or when working with others, is the extent to which you are managing your own state of mind and how you are able to influence (positively) the state of others.

A state can be defined as a “unique combination of posture, physiology, emotions, and feelings that someone experiences at any one time”.  In other words, any significant emotional state will have its own ‘signature’ – and the ability to recognise the external changes that are indicative of an internal state change will be invaluable – both in choosing and/or managing your own state, or in situations such as coaching, negotiating, selling and leading teams.

In NLP there are several formats that focus specifically on state awareness and management.

Some that are particularly helpful in bringing about internal state change are…

Anchoring a resourceful state

Despite being one of the most basic NLP formats this pattern serves as a metaphor for what can be possible using appropriate NLP tools and techniques. It shows the power of choice (selecting the emotional state to which you wish to have access), the possible speed of intervention (most resourceful state exercises do not take any longer than about 15 minutes to be successful) and the sustainability of the intervention over time (one anchor that was originally set for me around 16 years ago still works consistently).

Chaining anchors to alter a response to an adverse stimulus that is likely to continue

Again, this is a format that is quite basic in its structure but which, when demonstrated to its full potential, does require a high degree of calibration skill in the coach. An experienced facilitator will notice changes in breathing patterns, skin colour and tone (related to blood flow) and brightness in the eyes (increased or decreased moisture content).

Causing a state change by using driver sub-modalities

When you identify the so-called ‘driver’ sub-modalities it becomes possible to create an almost instant state and behavioural change. Examples include the ‘mapping across’ process to move yourself from one state to another…

… From unmotivated to fully motivated

… From procrastination to action

… From confusion to understanding

(If you’re not familiar with any of these NLP formats and would like further details, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to help)

Calibrating and influencing another’s emotional state

When influencing the states of others it’s important to remember…

  • That tension is contagious
  • To consider what state is most appropriate for the intervention
  • To set your own state first … choose to let go of tension rather than “relax”
  • To be congruent
  • To pay attention to ideomotor signals (i.e. small, physical movements which are outside of conscious awareness – e.g. an ‘odd looking’ sideways twitch of a finger)

There are certain key things to pay attention to when noticing (or calibrating) changes in someone’s state…

Breathing changes Deep sighs Pupil dilation / restriction
Changes in blink rate Eyelid changes / closure Skin colour differences
Changes in muscle tension Moisture in eyes Vocal tonality or speed changes

 

One thing to bear in mind is that noticing changes in state will not necessarily tell you ‘what’ someone is thinking but it will certainly let you know that something is different.  For example, if you have accurately calibrated someone in a relaxed or calm state, and something happens to change that – you then have a set of criteria from which you can assess their return to that state in response to some kind of intervention from you.

No. 14 – NLP Tools for Common Issues

A question was put to us recently, asking if it would be possible to produce an NLP matrix, showing how all the various NLP tools and formats relate to each other and which is best to use under what circumstances.

It’s a request that has been made before, and indeed we have made valiant attempts to put something together, but it has always proved to be far too complex a thing to do in any meaningful way.

However, it did get me thinking about common issues or scenarios which people have discussed with us over the years, and how some tips for dealing with these recurring themes might be useful.  So here are a few situations which many people seem to be faced with to some degree, or at some time, followed by some ideas on NLP tools which can be helpful…

Scenario 1:

You are trying to motivate someone to action and/or encourage them to consider future options and possibilities.  But they are firmly entrenched in the present (or problem) state – constantly pointing out the glitches in your plan, what won’t work and why.

NLP Options:

  • Match and pace their ‘moving away from’ language before beginning to lead them into ‘future’ thinking.
  •  Covertly test their willingness to do this by first checking the level of rapport that exists between you – for example after matching and pacing their key verbal and non-verbal patterns, check that they then give indications of following you if you attempt to ‘lead’ some aspect of that.
  • If they have a very strong ‘moving away’ from motivation (and if there is sufficient rapport) play that strategy back to them by creating an even worse scenario that may occur if they stay where they are.  The key insight in this instance is that they must be getting something of significant benefit to them out of maintaining what would otherwise seem like an untenable position.
  • Analyse what hidden Value is driving their current behaviour and see if you can create another mechanism for them to get that need met but without the old attitude or behaviour. Easy to say, not so easy to do.

Scenario 2:

There is someone in your life that you find particularly challenging.  Perhaps there is a ‘personality clash’ within the team, or a person whose behaviour is ‘difficult’ and constantly causes problems.  Nevertheless, they will continue to be in your life and you have to find a way of working with them in order that the necessary outcomes can be achieved.

NLP Options:

  • Create a chained anchor in yourself to create an alternative response that is positive for you.
  • Apply the idea of ‘unconscious positive intention’ to the situation. In simple language “What learning is available to me in being exposed to this particular characteristic in this way?” Remember that this insight does not have to be true but must fit all the facts. If it does, and you then act as if it is true, you should get a major positive shift in the relationship.
  • The leverage point in this situation is that the only part of the system over which you have total control is you, so …
    • What is the characteristic(s) of the other person you find most ‘difficult’?  Apply the presupposition – “What I experience in others is, in some way, an expression of me”.  Reconcile this inside yourself first to accept (or at least manage) it in others.

Scenario 3:

You (or perhaps a member of your team) often talk about something you would like to achieve or a goal or target that you would like to accomplish.  However, despite seeming to be fully engaged with the idea, time goes by and no steps are taken to make it happen.

NLP Options:

This is potentially the most straightforward example so far. The key is that the benefits of not achieving it are currently felt to be greater than would be gained through achievement of the goal. This is often at an unconscious level, so ..

  • Using the Outcome Thinking model, consider –
    • What are the higher level interests of doing X – i.e. what will achieving this outcome do for you?
    • What are the positive by-products of the present state?  – i.e. what do you get (positively) from not doing X?  These benefits must then be present in the desired state to make it truly compelling

Scenario 4:

You have asked someone to do something – a request that you think is perfectly reasonable, logical and straightforward.  Even when you repeat the request, or ask it a different way, it’s to no avail.  The other person either gives you a direct “no” or an implied no, by finding ways to defer or ignore the issue.

Our usual response is to feel frustration so we need a way of moving beyond that feeling as soon as possible.

NLP Options:

  • People’s odd or unusual behaviour is ‘normal’ for them so there must be something in it that is important to them in what they are doing. This ‘something’ will usually be to do with their values.
  • Before your next encounter with them, use the concept of ‘Perceptual Positions Thinking’ to run a Currently Perceived Choice (CPC)* exercise.  This works in the following way…
    • Identify the question he/she thinks they are being asked (their Currently Perceived Choice) – this will be significantly different from the one you are actually asking
    • Stepping into the other person’s shoes.
      • Define all the consequences of saying “yes” to the question they are hearing
      • Define all the consequences of saying “no” to the question they are hearing
    • Rate the consequences as positive or negative – for them
    • It should then be apparent that saying “no” is the obvious choice from their perspective
    • Identify the values that are likely to drive the “yes” and “no” consequences
    • Create a new question, which will stimulate or meet these values and make it more likely that you will get a “yes”
    • The important thing is not to judge this as being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – it’s about understanding the situation the way it is and dealing with it on that basis

* For those of you not familiar with it, the CPC is a very simple model created at the Harvard Negotiation Project to deal with any situation where you are getting “No” when you believe you should get “Yes”.

These are just a few ideas of situations you may encounter, and some of the NLP formats you could consider in the circumstances. If you have any other challenging situations for which you would like some suggestions, do let us know.

TED Talks

Interesting TED Talks by Peter van Uhm “Why I Chose a Gun”.

He is the Netherlands’ Chief of Defense.  However, as you’ll see, that does not mean he is pro-war.  Some fascinating insights – watch it here

No.13 – Survival of the Fittest?

“Survival” seems to be an all too familiar theme for many businesses (small or large) these days, and for me the interesting thing is the different strategies people are adopting to deal with the issue.

Obviously the most natural (and sometimes necessary) thing to do in challenging times is to look at ways of reducing costs and eliminating unnecessary expenditure. However, there is also a danger of falling into a pattern of saving and cost cutting which is ultimately counter-productive.

A few days ago I was watching a programme – Undercover Boss USA. This episode followed Steve Joyce, President and CEO of Choice Hotels International one of America‟s largest franchise hotel chains. He spent some time in the largest hotel in the Choice system – a huge complex with 675 rooms. The buildings are 25 years old and until a few years ago were well maintained, and had high occupancy rates. However, in recent years a range of cost cutting measures have been introduced and many public areas have been neglected. The rooms still have the same TV‟s as in 1994, the roof leaks, the pool area needs to be re-surfaced – and they have cut personnel, meaning that there‟s now only one maintenance man to service the whole complex. Not surprisingly business has also dropped off, with customers choosing a newer and more modern alternative. Of course, some renovations would require quite a large investment, but many small, relatively low-cost things were identified, which could make a big difference, and had they have been done earlier, would most probably have reduced the high cost expenditure now needed. Two particular examples were highlighted. The first was the fact that locks on the bedroom doors were so old that guests were often unable to get into their rooms without calling maintenance (not helpful when you get back to the hotel late at night and reception is a 10 minute walk away!). The second was the simple fact that the maintenance golf cart, used to move quickly around the complex, had broken down and not been replaced – meaning that the maintenance man had to go everywhere on foot and service was therefore two or three times slower than it needed to be.

Closer to home, we hear of many organisations that are cutting jobs, meaning that remaining personnel are required to fill the gaps, taking on more responsibility and working longer hours. This may be OK in the short-term, but if it continues (or even escalates) it‟s a situation that leads to increased stress levels, decreased productivity and therefore decreased profits – potentially leading to more cost cutting. It‟s a vicious circle, which can creep up unawares until the tipping point is reached and it all starts to fall apart.

That may all sound a bit depressing, and potentially has an air of inevitability about it. However, there are things that can break the downward spiral. The question is, how can NLP, and so-called „soft-skills‟ in general, help in these situations?

As I’m sure you’re aware soft skills are often perceived as a “nice to have” when time (and money) permit. However, with the pressures of today’s business environment, our experience is that increased attention to these areas (especially those related to Emotional Intelligence), can improve motivation and productivity, and ultimately save time and money.

There are two aspects to consider – what you can do individually (either for yourself or for the people within whom you come into contact) and more broadly within an organisation as a whole.

Individual Actions

The focus here is on increased attention to people, more effective communication (making sure the message is received first time) and resolving disputes and conflicts – or avoiding them in the first place. Strategies for achieving this include…

  • Realising that people do what they do for a reason – once the real issue is defined it may be possible to help them find an alternative way of achieving their undeclared aim.
  • Asking (rather than telling) the staff most directly concerned what to do about a particular problem.
  • Linked with the previous point, being open with teams about your concerns and the possible risks they create and inviting their involvement in resolving them more creatively. This approach is sometimes thought of as being risky but this feeling is usually due to a lack of confidence in the manager him or herself.
  • Paying increased attention to the small non-verbal signals we all give off when we are not fully engaged in, or motivated by, a particular idea … For example, averted gaze, unconscious hand movements around the mouth and face, shifting in one‟s seat etc. By drawing someone‟s attention to their unconscious feedback it becomes possible to address the underlying issue while everyone is still in the room.

One cautionary note here – accurate calibration without interpretation or projection is crucial in avoiding misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Organisational Strategies

From this perspective the key is to work towards higher levels of engagement and motivation and consider the savings available through short-term investment for longer term gain. For example…

  • Being rigorous with continually asking what purpose a particular process or procedure fulfils and removing those that add little or nothing to the outputs.
  • Where reworking occurs, check what it is that causes it to be necessary.
  • Examining any proposed budget cut within the frame of “is cutting this ultimately going to cost us more in the long term?” (As with the decision not to replace the maintenance golf cart in the example above).
    • An alternative challenge is “What other possible consequences could there be as a result of doing this?”
  • Increasing the investment in apparently unnecessary training and development programmes that focus on enhancing interpersonal and relationship skills (that‟s the sales pitch!).

I know most companies, large and small, are actively seeking ways to survive through creativity, diversification and innovation. There is also much evidence to show that businesses who expend time and energy in ensuring that staff at all levels feel valued, listened to and involved, are the ones who are most likely to emerge at the top when things improve.