NLP Life Coaching and Hypnotherapy

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Peter Freeth Explains Why the Presupposition ‘every behaviour has a positive intention’ Isn’t True

 Peter Freeth Explains Why the Presupposition ‘every behaviour has a positive intention’ Isn’t True 

 

peter smile

We have a real treat today. Peter Freeth – coach, author and business leader  www.askrevelation.com, is this weeks guest author. Peter has a world wide reputation, presenting at intentional conferences in Ukraine, Poland, Denmark, USA, Canada, South Africa, Ireland and the UK. Peter has taught NLP and coaching all over the world, and has been a “guest trainer” with some of the UK’s best known training companies.

Is NLP Misunderstood?

At this time of year, many people think about making a fresh start. They make New Year’s resolutions, and they think about changing homes, cars and, of course, jobs.

Sadly, what puts a lot of people off going for a new job, getting out of a rut and driving their careers forwards is fear of putting themselves up for judgement. They project their own self doubt onto the interviewer, convinced that the interviewer can see through their thin veil of confidence.

In my work as a coach and trainer, I would say that the most common manifestation of this that I come across is fear of public speaking.

A lot of what you’ll read about NLP on the Internet and in other books centres around the notion of “belief change”; that by using some magical technique to change your beliefs, you won’t have to think about your behaviour, it will all just fall into place by itself.

After one session with a NLP Practitioner – whoosh! – by changing this one belief with a magical technique, their whole life falls into place. They have the confidence to lead and the assertiveness to manage their team’s performance, and now that they believe that they are a good manager, they aggressively pursue the promotion opportunities that they had missed out on.

Sadly, this is a very optimistic set of expectations; of the client, of you as a Practitioner and of NLP itself.

Being able to uncover a belief and offer the client evidence to support the formation of new beliefs is valuable, and it will influence the client’s behaviour. However, wholesale belief change is not what NLP is about.

A phrase that I hear all too often is, “limiting belief”. This is, in my opinion, a terrible way to think about beliefs. A belief cannot be limiting, and to give the belief the active verb means that it is in control of you. Just apply the meta model – what is the belief limiting – you! But it’s your belief! That’s like opening your lunch box and sighing, “ham sandwiches again” when you make them yourself every morning!

Beliefs are not limiting. Beliefs keep you safe. They give you certainty about the world, so we shouldn’t think in terms of ‘belief change’. We should think in terms of what has to become true in order for an outcome to be achieved.

Imagine the owner of a conference and events company who is a nervous, even fearful presenter. What a job to choose! When he introduces a conference and welcomes the guests, he nervously shuffles, fumbles, sweats and can’t wait to get off stage. He feels panicky and admits that he hates getting up in front of people.

Interview

How would you approach this?

Would you perhaps anchor confidence? Or maybe set a Well Formed Outcome for a successful presentation? Or you might use some of the NLP techniques that you’ve learned to ‘reframe’ his nervousness as a useful and valid choice; one of many.

I can’t tell you what ‘would’ work in a hypothetical situation. I can, however, tell you what I did in this real life situation. What I looked for was the underlying rule that drove his behaviour. I figured that any techniques to address only his anxiety would just give him more to worry about.

You see, “every behaviour has a positive intention” isn’t true. It’s another phrase that I hear a lot, and it’s probably the most wrongly interpreted NLP presupposition of them all.

If you look up the list, you’ll see that the full statement is, “Every behaviour has a positive intention and a context in which it has value”.

Therefore, by understanding the context in which the belief has value, you will understand everything about the client’s beliefs that he or she projects onto the world. If you had to stand up in front of a crowd who were griping and groaning, booing and stamping their feed to indicate their boredom, you’d be scared too. It’s a natural reaction, and a sign that you need to get out of there right now. This situation often happens in real life, but at comedy clubs, not at corporate conferences, although, amazingly, I have seen it happen.

We should also note that the word ‘positive’ does not mean ‘good’. It merely means ‘exists’. Positive feedback means ‘do more of x to get y’, and negative feedback means do less of x to get y’. So a positive intention is just an intention to achieve something.

In exploring his role in the conference and how he saw himself in relation to the audience, I was able to reveal a belief; that his role in the conference was not important.

We can then make a connection between the belief that his role was not important, therefore he was not important, and all of his anxious behaviours.

First, I did a ‘conversational reframe’, which is simply a way to offer up alternative points of view and set the scene for the change process. If you were to pick apart what I said to him, you could see a number of NLP techniques within it. I appeared to ramble on a number of subjects; going to the cinema, seeing a play or pantomime, going to a conference and so on. All of these examples contained a similarity; that what happens at the very beginning determines how you feel about the whole event. He then realised that his role in the conference was potentially the most important. His role determined how the guests answered, in their own minds, the question, “Did I make a good decision to come here?”

I hadn’t tried to convince him that his role is important, he’s arrived at that conclusion all by himself.

So, now he was open to other possibilities, but he still needs hard evidence, so I used a little trick that is one of my personal favourites. I got him to focus on something that was such a minor detail, in this case his use of ‘cue cards’ rather than trying to remember everything. He had watched other conference speakers working without any notes, and assumed that their confident appearance meant that they were much ‘better’ than he was. In fact, there are other explanations. They have probably delivered the same lecture or speech hundreds of times and they know it like a child knows a nursery rhyme. That doesn’t make it good. Their confidence might actually be arrogance, a sign that they have disconnected from the audience, which is not good either.

I asked him if he thought that these confident presenters were any good, in his opinion. He said no, but the audiences always applauded.

That’s what audiences do. Nightingales sing, rivers flow, audiences applaud politely.

To be fair, he had done what we all do; taken snippets of reality and put them into a collage, the result of which was a belief that he wasn’t as good as these other presenters, and his role wasn’t important. He had made them the stars of the show and whilst they may have been what the audience were paying to see, my client was unwittingly the ‘warm up man’, and if the warm up man doesn’t warm up the audience, the main act falls flat on its face.

By the way, taking snippets of perception and making a collage from them, much like the poster to advertise a movie, is called ‘in-time representations in a between-time structure’. This is what happens when people say, “I’m always trying to lose weight”. No they’re not. But by focusing on the times that they’re conscious of trying, they don’t notice all the times that they already are losing weight. Smoking is another good example, where someone might say, “I keep trying to give up, and I manage it for a few weeks, but then I start again. I just can’t give up.” Actually, they excel at giving up, they’ve done it several times! That’s not the correct focus; instead they should forget to start again after they’ve successfully stopped!

At this point, the client had a number of different options, which meant that he was receptive to new information to support a change in belief. And now we get to my favourite trick.

Remembering everything that he had to say was a problem too. He had tried cue cards, but found that they didn’t help. I suggested that writing words on cue cards was the problem for him, because he had to stop speaking in order to read the words, and that interrupted his natural flow and allowed the self doubt and anxiety to creep in. I gave him some slips of paper to use as practice cue cards and got him to think up symbols instead of words. A clock for start and finish times, a cup for breaks, a stick man and woman for where the toilets are, a speech bubble to introduce the speakers, a question mark to let the audience know when they could ask questions, and so on. Part of his problem was that he couldn’t remember everything that he needed to say, and he had created an unrealistic expectation based on what he’d seen other presenters do.

Another perspective is that when the conference speakers deliver their habitual lectures, they are telling a story, like walking a well worn path. It all connects together, and they’re using slides and other prompts to keep themselves on track. While that audience may not have seen the presentation before, they’ve actually delivered it dozens of times.

My client’s introduction was quite disjointed; the things he needed to say were all important, but they didn’t have a flow or story. The ancient Greeks had a way of giving such disjointed items a story of their own, called the Method of Locus. This would involve an imaginary journey that begins with looking at your watch and noticing the time, stopping for a cup of coffee, going to the toilet, meeting someone and talking to them, meeting someone else and asking them questions, and so on.

I didn’t get him to try this, I just stuck to the cards because they were easier, and he was already using them. If you can attach change to something the client already does, they will have a natural, ongoing reminder of it. The thing I like about simple tricks or props is that they serve many purposes.

For example, the symbolic cue cards gave my client:

  • A reason for his past difficulty (reading words)
  • Something to do with his hands
  • A reminder of what to say
  • Something new to try (the symbols)
  • A magic token, like Dumbo’s magic feather, Popeye’s spinach or any other ‘placebo’
  • Something to focus on
  • Something to take his mind off the problem
  • An activity that presupposes change
  • A rehearsal activity

Any intervention, any technique, has multiple ways of working, and one of the worst things that happens at NLP Practitioner training is that the students are told what each technique is for. They’re presented as keys which only open one door, one way, and their coaching sessions simply become a routine of trying all the keys until they find the right one. Mapping out the context of the issue first is absolutely vital to success for the client.

For example, a swish is a technique that you can do in dozens of different ways. You can wave your hands, imagine rubber bands flinging images around, turn a page, start a new sentence half way through another. That’s a linguistic swish, by the way, where you start by pacing the client’s current experience and then introduce a pattern interrupt and redirection half way through. The mistake I’ve seen every NLP trainer make is to make the outcome something desirable, and this is dangerous, because all you’re doing is replacing lack of choice A with lack of choice B, and who’s to say it’s the right outcome anyway? When you do a swish, what you need to aim for is just to break the pattern and open up choice. Now, it’s all very well me saying this, and just because you’re reading these words right now doesn’t mean that bananas will ever evolve intelligence by themselves, which is why the swish is such a powerful tool and should really be used in every coaching session at least once.

So the more ‘mileage’ you can get out of everything you do, the more effective you’ll be.

I had my client practice his introduction a few times, during which he relied less and less on his cue cards. As he did this, I asked him about what he was doing, how he was feeling and, most importantly, what differences he was noticing. We ended the session with him genuinely looking forward to trying out his new cue cards.

Did this “work”?

If you mean, “Was the client able to present at conferences more comfortably, without anxiety?”, then the answer is yes. But a technique, or a whole coaching process, is only the beginning, and you must never underestimate the amount of work that your client must still do in order to achieve what they want. In many cases, you are asking them to break the habits of a lifetime, and accept a different possibility for the most difficult belief of all; that things will always be the same.

A few years after the coaching session, I met up with the client again. He’s now the Managing Director of the UK branch of a large global conference organiser, and he told me something that surprised even me – that the coaching session had changed his life. It had enabled him to seize new opportunities, and it improved his overall sense of confidence and self worth, because he was no longer afraid of something that he’d been telling himself for years was a silly, irrational fear.

He was even able to do something that, previously, he would never have attempted. He gave a speech at his own wedding, still using the visual mnemonic cards, and actually enjoyed it.

peter smile

Learn More about Peter Here:  Peter Freeth has almost 30 years experience in business, with first hand experience in technology, sales, management and team development. He has worked with major global corporations including HP, British Telecom, Parker Hannifin, Babcock, Mizuho, VW Audi, Barclays, Santander, Mercer and Google and delivered impressive results including doubling sales conversions, increasing profitability by 700% and accelerating the career development of 83% of Babcock’s future leaders.

Peter first encountered NLP in 1993 while working in the Telecoms industry and has been studying, developing and teaching it ever since. Over the past 20 years, Peter’s experience and work has expanded into the field of coaching and more general public and corporate training in such areas as sales and leadership.

Peter has written 9 books on various business and management subjects as well as countless magazine articles. He has presented at intentional conferences in Ukraine, Poland, Denmark, USA, Canada, South Africa, Ireland and the UK and is an expert in the field of developing high performing cultures in business.

Peter has taught NLP and coaching all over the world, and has been a “guest trainer” with some of the UK’s best known training companies. Today, Peter’s focus is on executive coaching and business performance consulting through his company, Revelation.

Learn more about peters new book here: Genius At Work

Chris Delaney NLP Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Career Advisor is available for booking for One to One Private Sessions, Group Training Sessions  and Public Speaking Events

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Chris Delaney NLP Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Career Advisor is available for booking for One to One Private Sessions, Group Training Sessions  and Public Speaking Events

Peter Freeth an International Coach and Presenter

Peter Freeth an International Coach and Presenter 

I am joined this week by coach, author and business leader Peter Freeth www.askrevelation.com . Peter has a world wide reputation, presenting at intentional conferences in Ukraine, Poland, Denmark, USA, Canada, South Africa, Ireland and the UK. Peter has taught NLP and coaching all over the world, and has been a “guest trainer” with some of the UK’s best known training companies.

peter freeth

C. Peter thank you for joining me today, I have been looking forward to meeting and interviewing you. You have an incredible CV what was it that made you choose coaching as a profession?

P. I think it chose me, actually. I was delivering NLP training and through that, lots of people were asking me for 1:1 help with various personal and business issues. Towards the end of the 1990s, the coaching market became established, and what I was doing became known as coaching.

C. So you started as  a coach before it became a popular profession, did you believe that you would come this far, being recognised worldwide?

P. I didn’t have a goal or destination in mind, actually, I just wanted to do something that I enjoyed for as long as I enjoyed it. 20 years on and I’m still enjoying it.

C. I believe that is the secret to career success finding something you enjoy and getting paid to do it. You have worked with many people, what do consider is  your greatest success with a client?

P. That depends on what you value as a measurement. Either 700% increase in profitability for a Business Unit Director, or the CEO of a conference business who recently told me that the coaching session I had with him 10 years ago changed his life and continues to make new opportunities possible for him, such as giving a great speech at his own wedding! Personally, I value the latter example, and in fact the original coaching session is used as an example in my book The NLP Practitioner Manual.

C. I agree, for many clients the coaching session has lasting affects not only for the reason they originally came for but also in other areas of their life. when working with a client how many sessions on average do clients particularly attend for?

P. That depends on the client’s needs, but my aim from the start is to make myself redundant because the last thing I want is for clients to depend on me; I get bored. I find that for a leader to make a step change in their thinking, behaviour and performance, 6 months is about right, with maybe 4 to 6 sessions over that time.

C. Do you always meet clients in the office or do you ever deliver sessions out in the open?

P. Actually I prefer busy public places. Lots of coaches complain to me that they find their work very tiring, and the reason for that, I believe, is that in a private room, the coach is having to supply all the energy. In a busy, happy, public space, there’s so much positive energy to feed off that it makes the session so much easier. I learned this many years ago by accident when I had planned to do a coaching session with a client who was terrified of public speaking in a cosy, plush, deserted hotel bar. When we arrived, the bar was closed and we were sent to the leisure club where the ladies’ aqua-aerobics session had just finished. The buzz and energy in the bar definitely made the session easier.

C. Yes the environment can make a big difference during a session. In your sessions, as well as coaching do you use other tools such as NLP or Hypnotherapy to support your clients?

P. As a coach, I don’t think you can help but use all of your skills and experiences, so yes, definitely. I would say that I don’t use either of those tool kits overtly, though, so I don’t ‘do’ NLP or hypnosis, but I do weave their principles into the conversation. For example, I might say to a client, “So, by the time you walk out of that door in an hour’s time, how do you want to feel differently about that?” In the cold light of this web page, it’s loaded with Milton language and even a linguistic timeline, but in a natural conversation, it just gets the client to think about what they want as an outcome for the session. I do conversational swishes, timelines, squashes, all sorts. I’ve actually pioneered a number of unique adaptations of NLP techniques which I know are used by many other coaches and trainers, such as doing a swish with a flipchart.

C. It must be amazing to see other professionals using the techniques you adapted and pioneered. What do you do to keep up with the latest trends in coaching?

P. I don’t. Trends are only there for someone to sell something. I only judge myself by my results as measured by my clients. I do keep up with advances in other technologies though, such as neurology, psychology, various aspects of human behaviour and so on. I think that’s much more valuable. As much as I struggle to read academic research, it’s much more valuable than the ‘latest trends’.

C. Do you attend any regular training?

P. I look for interesting events to go to. I don’t think it’s necessarily useful to keep going to coach training, I have found that coaches who do that do it for one of two reasons; either they need the CPD points, or they believe that they don’t yet know enough to be a good coach. I prefer to go to lectures, business talks and so on, anything to expand the mind. Your local university will have lots of different free events that you can go to.

C.  I agree and many techniques especially this from NLP are taken from the field of psychology. With your research coming from different fields and from the lectures you attend is their anyone in coaching sector do you look up to?

P. I don’t know anyone in the coaching sector these days. I used to go to lots of networking events and practice groups but I found them to be mostly populated by wannabe coaches looking for clients. I realised that successful coaches don’t go to such events, they’re too busy with clients! I’m also sorry to say that the people who become well known in a particular field, if they’re commercially driven, have to keep reinventing their ideas so that they can keep making money. Even academic figures are often driven by a need to be published in order to keep the research grants flowing and their centres open. I suppose I’ve never really been one for heroes. Of anyone, I look up to my father the most, but he’s not a coach as far as he knows!

C. Why do you believe coaching is important to people from all walks of life?

P. I don’t believe it’s important. I believe that access to education is important, for people who want it, and coaching is just one form of education.

C. Yes, many people want the coach to give them the answers, where in reality that isn’t what coaching is about. What would you say is the main benefit from a coaching session?

P. That the client gets something important for them that they had believed to be just out of reach.

C. Do your clients come for one off session or do you meet them on a regular basis?

P. It depends on what they want. If it’s a problem fix, I’ll do that in one session. For example, fear of public speaking is a common one, and I’d expect to have that sorted in about an hour or so at most. If it takes longer, the client starts to question too much and begins to believe that their problem must be really serious. So I treat the client with total respect, and their ‘problem’ with total disrespect

C. I like the ‘disrespecting’ of their problem and it is great to hear that you don’t drag out sessions for problems that can be sorted within an hour, you do hear about coaches who get the client to overbook sessions. For someone potentially looking for a coach, what questions should they ask before booking a session?

P. Treat it like any service; a plumber, gardener or whatever. Trust your gut reaction and ask for testimonials, but bear in mind that no coach is going to refer to a client who hated them! An acid test is to ask for a money back guarantee. If the coach says no, they can’t have a lot of faith in their skills.

C. The acid test is a great idea for potential clients. Do you have a coach yourself?

P. Not formally, but I know where to go to talk things through.

C. Has having a coach changed your life?

P. I guess so, yes, though accidentally. My partner gave me a lot of very challenging feedback when we first met, and it made me rethink the whole direction of my life. While I didn’t employ her as a coach, that’s the job that she really did. We shouldn’t think of coaches in only a one dimensional way, but instead think of the role that they play in our lives.

C. Yes we all have informal coaches who help us make choices and look at situations from different perspectives. We mention at the beginning a little about your business but what area of expertise would you say you specialise in?

P. I suppose it’s become two things. Fear of public speaking is so common and so easy to resolve that I end up doing it quite often. The more interesting area for me is modelling high performers. I’ve written a book about it, Genius at Work, which contains my full modelling methodology. In NLP terms, it’s the basis of how you create custom techniques, so whatever the client raises, I model and create a custom intervention for it. When you model lots of people, you start to see patterns of excellence which make it so much easier to coach future clients.

C. the book sounds really interesting and I’m looking forward to reading it. When your friends ask what do you do for a living, how do they react when they find out your a life coach?

P. I’m not a life coach. I’m just a friend. One of the worst things that coaches do is to fail to turn off the coach at 5 o’clock.

C. Yes, it’s very easy to be that annoying person who wants to solve everyone’s problems even when they don’t want them solving. Has being a coach benefited you personally? How?

P. It’s given me a varied and interesting career.

C. You mentioned your recently released a book Genius at Work , can you tell me a little bit about it

P. Genius at Work is a methodology for modelling high performance. The book takes you right through all the basic principles and the most up to date research in brain function, so for example it finally explains how learning and ‘anchoring’ work without the mumbo-jumbo explanations of many NLP and coaching books. By following the book, you’ll be able to identify high performers, extract the essence of their talents and turn the model into a template for pretty much anything. I used it to create a custom coaching program for a well known engineering company, a graduate program for a high street retailer, a development program for an industry regulator and so on. And of course, I use it almost every day to learn really useful and interesting tricks from people who I meet. One of the problems that I see most often in corporate training is the use of ‘rituals’ and ‘incantations’. A ritual is a sequence of actions which is designed to bring about a certain result, a common example being the sales manager who believes that if his team just did what he does, they would be as fantastic as he is. An incantation is a script, a magic spell which is sure to get a certain result, so if a store assistant asks you, in a dreary, deadpan voice tone, “Can I interest you in one of our fantastic special offers today?” you’re supposed to fall over yourself to part with your hard earned cash. The high performing sales people who were observed to create these scripts didn’t actually say those words, they adapted their interaction for each customer. They didn’t have a script, but they did have an underlying, consistent way of thinking about their behaviour and results, and that’s what you can get at using Genius at Work, so you end up with people who say something slightly different to each customer but usually get the same, positive result. The script is easier for corporates to teach – or at least they think it is – but it’s really counter-productive. When we model high performers, we find the same common traits coming up, every time, in every walk of life or skill set. They under-rate their own skills, they make it look easy and they can’t explain how they do it. The Genius at Work approach enables you to get underneath that and unlock the real secrets of their success.

C. The book sounds really interesting I hop it does well. When your coaching your clients do you coach people in groups or just on a one to one basis?

P. Both I suppose. 1:1 work looks more like coaching, but when I’m training a group and one person raises a personal issue, I use it to coach the whole group because I know they’ll all identify with it in some way. For example, on a presentation skills course, I’ll talk to someone who is anxious about the nature of worry, which is actually just an application of our goal setting ability. Of course, everyone worries at some point, so by changing one person’s understanding of worry, the whole group benefits without having to step into the spot light and talk about their own experiences.

C. In coaching we talk about goal setting, why is goal setting so important?

P.  Oddly enough, I don’t think it is. What I mean is that we are goal directed animals, we can’t not set goals. So I don’t think it’s as important to set goals in the sense that coaches are probably familiar with, I think it’s more important to be aware of the goals that you already have for yourself and which drive you every day. Only when you’re honest about what those are can you modify them to get different results.

C. What is the difference between negative and positive goal setting?

P. I don’t think there is a difference. We’re analogue creatures, so we can’t directly think in terms of negatives, so a negative goal such as, “I don’t want to still be in this job in a year’s time”, translates into, “I want to be in this job a year from now, still feeling miserable about it”, because that’s the image that you might make in your mind when you verbalise that goal. So a goal can by definition only be something you move towards. You might be motivated away from failure, for example, but that tells you nothing about what direction to move in, so you’re likely to go from the frying pan to the fire, as they say. You really want to be in the living room watching your favourite TV show, so there’s no need to think of getting out of the frying pan, that’s just the triggering event, it’s not a goal.

C. Thank you Peter and just before we finish I wanted to ask  you what is your life mantra?

P. Life’s too short to have mantras.

C. and where do you see yourself in the nest 3-4 years?

P. I’ve been asked this question since my first job interview nearly 30 years ago, and I still can’t come up with a better answer than, “enjoying myself, somewhere”.

C. Thank you for joining me today Peter and good luck with your new book which is now available on Amazon.

peter smileLearn More about Peter Here:  Peter Freeth has almost 30 years experience in business, with first hand experience in technology, sales, management and team development. He has worked with major global corporations including HP, British Telecom, Parker Hannifin, Babcock, Mizuho, VW Audi, Barclays, Santander, Mercer and Google and delivered impressive results including doubling sales conversions, increasing profitability by 700% and accelerating the career development of 83% of Babcock’s future leaders.

Peter first encountered NLP in 1993 while working in the Telecoms industry and has been studying, developing and teaching it ever since. Over the past 20 years, Peter’s experience and work has expanded into the field of coaching and more general public and corporate training in such areas as sales and leadership.

Peter has written 9 books on various business and management subjects as well as countless magazine articles. He has presented at intentional conferences in Ukraine, Poland, Denmark, USA, Canada, South Africa, Ireland and the UK and is an expert in the field of developing high performing cultures in business.

Peter has taught NLP and coaching all over the world, and has been a “guest trainer” with some of the UK’s best known training companies. Today, Peter’s focus is on executive coaching and business performance consulting through his company, Revelation.

Learn more about peters new book here: Genius At Work
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