Questions that help you direct attention and outcomes

As a birth professional you will already have a sense of how important the way you speak to clients is; in fact you have probably listened as woman after woman have told you stories involving the use of words and phrases by birth professionals, that have left the women in question feeling less than powerful after the birth of their babies.

In many ways the words that everyone uses are very specific and mean what they say, given the internal ‘context’ of the person saying them. When I speak any word I know what I mean right?

From my perspective all that I say makes sense. Yet for those listening the task of understanding is largely guess work, and for much of the time the guessing goes on unconsciously. We are constantly filling in the gaps in our understanding with our own experiences, and that’s one of our biggest challenges when it comes to communicating with other human begins.

A conversation can feel like verbal martial arts at times can’t it?

Note: In case you're wondering: This is really Mark and his brother 😉

It’s one of the reasons I find the model of NLP so much fun and have maintained a desire to keep on learning about it for many years.

You see, the words we use are like ‘icons’ on the desk top of our computers, they could be called the surface structure of our experience. When we listen to a woman speaking, the words she uses are pointing us in the direction of a much deeper pattern or internal structure that she is living from. This deeper structure, or map of reality, is the source of her mind and body state in the moment and when she speaks out the words she leaves us clues as to how she is creating her experience.

Note: The reality humans experience is like the icons on the screen of a computer. They make part of a user interface that allows us to navigate our lifes without having to know about the programming and source code behind the visual layers, that actually makes it all happen.

When we speak or write, tell a story or joke our internal mental process are hanging out, for all to hear, and when we listen to others, those same internal process are directing our meaning making search. Our unconscious mind, in a thousandth of second, searches our experiences to find, what for us seems relevant regarding what’s being said.

There is enormous power in this way of understanding language, the words people are using are not right or wrong in any kind of moral sense, but they are creating an effect in those who hear them. As we begin to understand how language directs the meaning making search of those who are listening to us, we can begin to offer people directions for that search that might lead them to some very useful places indeed.

And ofcourse, as we begin to hear our own internal conversation, which tends to trundle along outside of our consciousness, our own personal transformation becomes more than just a possibility.

That’s right, every one talks to themselves!

I have an exercise that I want to share with you, this exercise will provide you an opportunity to experience the power of language we have been speaking about. The exercise is in two parts, and is best done in two separate sittings, even if the time between theparts is only 5 minutes. So, when have completed part one you have time enough to make a cup of tea before moving on.

Part 1

Think of a problem you are experiencing in your life right now?

Exploring the problem: Take as long as you need to answer the following questions, it’s a good idea to write your answers down but not completely necessary, the exercise will work both ways.

  • What’s wrong with regards to this problem?
  • Why do you have this problem?
  • How long have you had this problem?
  • How does this problem limit you?
  • What does this problem stop you from doing?
  • Whose fault is this problem?
  • When was the worst time you experienced this problem?

Part 2

Right, you have got a cup of tea haven't you? Now with the same problem held in mind answer the following questions:

  • What do you want?
  • When do you want it?
  • How will you know you have got it?
  • When you get what you want, what else will improve in your life?
  • What resources do you have available to help you?
  • How best can you utilise the resources you have?
  • What are you going to begin doing now to get what you want?
  • As you reflect upon the experience of doing the exercise how are your feelings different regarding the two sets of questions?

Most people won’t do the exercise, it’s easy to read stuff, harder to actually do it, of course you will not have the same experience if reading is all you do.

Which set of questions created in you more solutions?

I am not going to say anything more about the exercise, you will already be noticing how the questions are directing your internal mental process differently. Suffice to say, the word problem is just an anchor on the desktop right? In fact problems don't exist in the real world! In our day to day world there are only behaviours; behaviours that lead to results we like and behaviours that don't.