NLP Liverpool

Coaching Tips

The Keys To Effective Coaching.

Part 1 – The Reframe.

“A very little key will open a very heavy door.”

Charles Dickens

Do you see rain and thunder clouds or a rainbow?

Anyone studying NLP should be familiar with the “NLP Process for Change” – see the graphic on page 5 of your SNLP practitioner manual if not.

The instructions are simple… “Build the desired state first. Elicit the present state. Then, choose and apply the intervention.

In a nutshell, that’s it, that’s the process of change, simple, isn’t it?

Well, of course, there’s a little more to it than that.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of watching Dr Richard Bandler, John & Kathleen La Valle, Paul McKenna, Michael Neill and many other “Masters of Change”, work effectively with clients. There are certain patterns they all use, yet seldom comment on. It is these simple patterns that are the key to effectiveness and make their change work seem effortless. It is these often-overlooked elements that we’re going to turn our attention to in this series of tips.

I must, of course, start by mentioning rapport. Rapport is a fundamental skill, taught in all good NLP courses and if you need rapport, there are many things you can do to build and maintain it. There are already plenty of articles and books on this subject, so I’m merely going to acknowledge this element and move on.

So, what are the “Masters of Change” doing that’s different?

If you watch closely, one of the first things you’ll notice is the use of reframing – offering the client a different perspective.

A client comes with (what seems to them) a huge problem. I see it as something simpler, and often as a skill. It may simply be a bad habit, a vivid imagination or a highly effective strategy used for the wrong thing. Offering the client a reframe for the issue is one of the simplest ways to loosen their grip on the problem and create the potential for change.

Dr Bandler, in his “Changing Habits” video with sisters Claire and Kate, reframes their “problems” as “bad habits”. Then further reframes these bad habits as “The chains of the free”, creating even more distance from their problems.

Paul McKenna in his easy weight loss events would always state “People who are overweight, it’s not your fault! You’ve simply developed some bad habits.”

John LaValle, after asking the client or demonstration subject about their problem will often respond simply with “Cool!” Thus helping the client see their problem as a skill or something to be proud of.

One of my scouts arrived for troop night with her lower leg in plaster, looking very concerned and obviously in pain. I looked at the broken ankle and said “Cool! What have you done there?” The transformation on her face was immediate. She smiled broadly (having forgotten the pain) and relayed the rather comical story of how it had happened. For the rest of the evening, she was relaxed and comfortable, and her mum commented on how “back to normal” she was when picking her up.

In some circumstances, a simple reframe may be all that is required to turn the problem completely around...

My wife, Julie, was chatting with a friend whose sister was moving to Dorset. They are very close and our friend was upset at the thought of her sister moving so far away. Until that was, Julie pointed out how lucky she was that her sister was “buying her a holiday cottage” in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. The change that came over her was dramatic, suddenly she could see the opportunity to enjoy a fully relaxing experience with her sister in a beautiful setting for years to come, rather than just a snatched half-hour walk with the dog twice a week.

A student of mine had a brilliantly effective strategy to feel embarrassed. In front of the group, we watched as she remembered an embarrassing moment, stepped into that memory, felt more embarrassed and then … remembered an even worse one. She stepped into that memory, found yet another and carried on like this until she looked absolutely mortified. (For context one of these stories involved a wedding party, some vigorous dancing and a false arm accidentally removed from its owner.)

It was a great strategy and worked beautifully and reliably. I merely suggested she use that strategy for something more useful, like pleasure, for example. We watched her state instantly change and then pass this new “state” around to the rest of the group with a simple look.

Of course, adding humour to our reframes helps to oil the wheels, so to speak.

Anyone familiar with The Simpsons Movie will recall the scene in which Bart is tied, trouserless, to a lamp post and is being mocked by the other children. At this moment, Homer arrives and Bart states “This is the worst day of my life!” Homer’s response … “So far! This is the worst day of your life, so far!” A simple reframe. After all … it could get worse.

Today, take the opportunity to reframe problems as they present themselves.

It may be your own experiences or a colleague, client, friend or loved one’s. Stop for a moment and ask yourself “What else does it mean?”

For example, “I got absolutely soaked on a walk to the beach on Sunday night” becomes “I walked to the beach and experienced some amazing weather!”

Or “The storm blew over the dead tree in the garden and I now have to clear it” becomes “I’ve got lots of firewood for the winter and the light will transform the previously shaded part of the garden.”

Have fun, and remember to make ‘em laugh.

Next time, in Part 2 … we’ll be looking at the role of credibility and trust.

© NLP Liverpool Limited 2023

A picture of old keys -The Keys to effective coaching
The Keys to effective coaching