The year 2020 has a special ring to it – a new decade, even that old chestnut, “Time for 20:20 vision.” In this blog I will cover some of the benefits that I have got out of just a small sample of the content covered in our NLP and Coaching taster day on 31 January 2020.

The Learning Cycle (or Bandura Curve)

The principle that we learn in four distinct phases:
Unconscious Incompetence -> Conscious Incompetence -> Conscious Competence -> Unconscious Competence.

An example of the first phase of the learning cycle happened to me in 2008 when I returned to run the company I founded in 1987. It was teetering on the brink of collapse as a result of the credit crunch and I knew that the company was in crisis; I also quickly realised that the knowledge I had of the company from when I was last in charge was well out-of-date. I was really outside of my comfort zone and frankly didn’t know what was going on.
Thankfully I knew about the Learning Cycle and understood that, rather than beat myself up for not knowing everything, it was ‘ok’ to be confused and to accept that I had entered the “Conscious Incompetence’ phase of the Learning Cycle.
I therefore gave myself some time to learn the ropes. Once I accepted the truth of the situation, I didn’t make any drastic decisions but realised that it would take around six months for me to be up and running. I therefore set a goal to ensure the business could survive for the next six months and to buy myself some time to get up to speed again.
This strategy proved the correct one as so many other businesses I knew didn’t enter into survival mode and sadly perished. Strangely, by admitting to myself that I didn’t know what to do, it allowed me to make better short-term decisions and navigate the rapidly shifting landscape. Looking back, the Learning Cycle taught me that being able to tolerate confusion is an essential component of being able to survive through a crisis.

TA (Transactional Analysis – the Parent /Adult / Child model)

PAC Model from Transactional Analysis
PAC Model from Transactional Analysis

This describes how people shift into different states, especially when they become stressed or upset.

When conflict happens around me, I know that I often ‘brew’ about it afterwards. I can stress myself out further by trying to ‘will’ myself to feel better, which simply doesn’t work. During these times, TA suggests that you learn to bring out your ‘adult’ inner-voice, which will help you to hold various states and thoughts simultaneously. For example, I might have something like the following happen within my mind:

A scolding parental inner-voice saying something like, “Get a grip!” or “How dare people behave in this way!”  

This can then provoke an inner-child voice saying, “It’s not fair, why are people mean to me or each other?”

I then remember to interrupt this vicious circle with an inner-adult voice saying, “You are upset and that is perfectly normal. It would be a good idea to shift your thoughts to another topic”.

I might need to repeat the ‘adult voice’ a few times as needed.

Robert Dilts, an NLP founder I have worked with for many years, suggests that this is perfectly normal and has famously said: “If you have a nervous system of course you will get upset at times!”

Coaching Listening Skills“if I wanted advice, I will go somewhere else.”

When I first started my own NLP training over twenty years ago, although I had read much about the benefits of listening skills, the reality was I simply wasn’t very good at it at all. I remember listening to a woman tell me about something important to her during an exercise on the course and, after a while, I interrupted her to share what I thought would be some useful advice. Rather than thanking me for the advice, she raised her voice and said forcefully: “This is my time, if I wanted advice, I will go somewhere else. This is a coaching course; please will you simply listen to me?!”

What I learnt from this encounter was that I didn’t have any practical experience (or skills) at listening to someone without the intention of disagreeing or offering my ideas. Coaching is learning how to listen attentively and empathically, so the client can work something out for themselves, an alien concept for me back then.
Learning to truly listen has since proved vital in countless examples both in my business and personal life.
NLP expands upon these ideas by providing practical techniques to both listen and pick up on the cues of what people really are thinking, even if they are not expressing themselves verbally.

Summary Remember States are Transitory.

One of the key take-aways from the ideas above is to accept that feeling bad is ok and that these states are transitory and will pass. I have personally found it most helpful to apply some of these ideas to moderate my own behaviour under stress – they provide insights which have stopped me jumping into action so I can wait until the ‘storm has passed’.

A by-product of learning to manage and contain one’s emotions is that you can become a better listener. This is because you gain extra energy, and a special type of attention needed to focus on other people and what is really going on with them (rather than being preoccupied with your own thoughts and feelings). It is being aware of these extra qualities and using them that can ignite the ‘magical influencing’ skills that NLP and Coaching are rightly famous for.

I will present these ideas and much more on our NLP and Coaching Taster Day, go here to book.

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