NLP Liverpool

Coaching Tips

The Keys To Effective Coaching.

Part 3 – "People are Learners".

“I am still learning.”
Michaelangelo (age 87)

A picture of text books about learning
Always keep learning ...

What was your favourite subject and why? Was it the way it was taught? Could you see the value in it for yourself? Or was your passion ignited by the subject itself and the results it could give?

When we work with clients, we’re helping them learn. It could be new skills, a new way of doing something or a new understanding of a past unpleasant experience. In each of these situations, we’re preparing the client, often unconsciously, for their learning experience.

We’re going to teach them new behaviours.

Think of it as the way a farmer prepares the field to accept a new crop.

For a year or more, the field has been settled and used, everything carrying on as it did previously, and then a new crop needs to be planted. If the farmer tried to sow seeds without any preparation, few seeds would take root and grow on dry compacted topsoil. So, a little preparation is almost always required to create the ideal conditions to establish a healthy new crop.

It’s the same when we work with clients, we need to disrupt the topsoil (reframing); know how and when to plant the seeds (trust, credibility, experience); then prepare the seedbed to accept the new crop (receptive to learning).

In our previous tips, we’ve looked at how reframing and credibility are used to prepare our client for change, today we turn our attention to the seedbed… our continued ability to learn, throughout our life.

Watching “The Masters of Change” at work (see previous tips), we see them all preparing their clients to learn new things.

Milton Erickson would often use a long, in-depth description of how a baby goes from crawling to walking. It is a very detailed description of the process and, of course, being Milton is a very powerful trance induction to boot.

Richard Bandler in his book Magic in Action, early in the session with Susan, says to her “… one of the things about people is that they are such exquisite learners. I’m always amazed at how people can learn things so quickly.” Richard then goes on to point out … “A lot of what they’ve learned is not worth having learned…” as a way of reframing Susan’s skill at creating her panic attacks.

John LaValle may talk about learning to drive a car and the stages we go through … unconscious incompetence (when we don’t realise we can’t do it) to eventually … unconscious competence (when we don’t even have to think about doing it).

When helping a client with personal change work, the behavioural change must be integrated at the unconscious level. The unconscious must be ready to take the information you are about to give it, test it, and then integrate it in a way that can be used when it needs to.

Without this unconscious integration, the client would need to actively remember to use this new behaviour when it is needed. How long does it take you to know where things are after a Microsoft upgrade or when you change your car?

If you’ve already completed your Practitioner or Master Practitioner course, you will already have learned a great deal, unconsciously. So, today, continue that process with your clients and begin to think about how you could create that fertile seedbed in them.

You could tell them a story about watching a child learning to ride a bike or play an instrument … and how we see their determination to learn and practice the skill. Some of these skills require a lot of practice, time and effort. Initially, the results may be a little wobbly (or scratchy, squeaky or noisy) and yet, with practice they get better and better…

Or use a quote about learning… see Michelangelo’s above, or Winston Churchill’s “I am always ready to learn … although I do not always like being taught.”

Have fun finding your own metaphors and stories.

Whichever way you prepare your client for learning, remember …

“He who laughs most, learns best.” (John Cleese of Monty Python fame)

Next time in this series (Part 4) we'll be looking at "Unconscious behaviours".

© NLP Liverpool Limited 2023

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The Keys to effective coaching