“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” ~ Plato
Every day as we get up we are surrounded by noise of some description. The alarm clock buzzing, the shower water pouring, the radio on in the background, the toaster ejecting its toast and a message ‘ping’ coming in from your mobile. When these external noises combine with our internal dialogue it can be a noisy place to live in!
But to be a little more ‘in tune’ with our surroundings as well as feeling less stress, we need to access the ability to find silence. The overall benefit to our health and our state of mind are immeasurable.
I think we can all agree that silence is a virtue, universally. It is as old as time. Before the world succumbed to the creation and bombardment of man-made sounds, the Universe was a vast, open space – where the only echoes you hear are tranquility and stillness. The beauty of silence is that it simply “is”. There is nothing artificial or engineered about it. Silence offers an opening that cannot be immediately defined - an opportunity to take the time to unearth the mysteries and lessons that exist within all of us.
Silence, however, does not come naturally for most of us. This is so true in a modern today. I always say to budding public speakers that a great tactic to keep the audiences attention is that short pause with silence. It is such a great tool to use, because we humans are simply not used to silence. Indeed, when you think about it, we have the uncomfortable habit of filling silent gaps with superficial talk or complete nonsense. But how do we find real ‘silence’ – is it possible even?
It can be done however, and I believe that all of us should embark on small trials in the art of gaining silence into our lives.
So here are 5 ways to incorporate elements of silence into your noisy life:
Complete silence can be nearly deafening. On a trip to Egypt, my wife and I had the real privilege and experience of entering the Great Pyramid on the Gaza Plateau and descend into the king’s chamber. Here, surrounded by millions of tons of stone block work the guide turned the lights off for a short period of time. In complete darkness, the silence was so pure the only discernable noise seemed to be the sound of blood coursing through my veins. Initially I was terrified, but within minutes I felt an indescribable sense of peace.
Neuro-Lingusitic Programming, or NLP, is a branch of applied psychology that invites you to uncover the secrets of advanced communication and make a lasting commitment to your own personal and professional development. Developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the mid-1970s, NLP has evolved exponentially over the past four decades to become what is now an internationally recognized and widely celebrated science of excellence. Not short of a plaudit or two, a personal favourite of mine comes from Psychology Today Magazine, which wrote:
“NLP may be the Most Powerful Vehicle for Change in Existence”
Big statement hey! But, actually, in my life so far I have to say I’ve not come across anything quite like NLP. I have seen and experienced first-hand the transformational power this wonderful slice of applied psychology has to offer and I am excited to share little glimpses of what it’s all about and how it might contribute to your own personal and professional development in this blog and blogs to follow.
So lets get down to it… Let me introduce you to ‘Six Magical Presuppositions of NLP’. The same Six Magical Presuppositions that evoked my first NLP ‘Aha’ moment. Now I say magical, not because they will bestow you with the ability to make a rabbit suddenly appear out of a hat, but because they are incredibly simple concepts that, when remembered and lived by, WILL make a difference.
Here we go:
1. You Cannot Not Communicate
When people think of how we communicate they will normally think of language or words. And they would be right, except words are just a tiny slice of the communication pie. In fact, according to studies carried out by psychology professor Albert Mehrabian, a mere 7% of human communication is verbal whereas a staggering 91% is non-verbal (55% Body Language/38% Tone of Voice). So if you think you are communicating nothing sitting silently in the corner of a room, think again. How are your arms and legs positioned? Are you slouched or upright? Your facial expression? What about your eyes – which direction are they looking? Is your breathing deep or shallow? How about the tempo of the pulse in your neck? All of these things communicate something to your external environment and are likely to be indicating quite a lot about the way you are thinking or feeling. The same can be said for when we are communicating verbally – does the tone of our voice match up to what we are saying or is it communicating something completely different?
The idea behind this presupposition is that if we are aware that we are always communicating and with so much more than just words, we should be able to make intelligent choices about the way we communicate in the future to ensure we convey the right messages.
** The topic of verbal and non-verbal communication in the world of NLP is both captivating and enormous, so if you’re interested in learning more I would thoroughly recommend indulging in a little bit of your own web- or library- based research, or, better still, get in touch with Mike about the courses he and his company Discover Synergy can offer you or your team on this topic. **
2. We All Live In Our Own Unique Model Of The World
We are all unique [as I read this statement aloud I see my fiancé lift her eyebrow as if to say “Hmmm…yes, some more than others”]. But really we are. Shaped by subjective perceptions, every single one of us creates a unique internal map of the external world and that becomes our reality – which is certainly a celebration of the uniqueness and diversity of mankind, but is also likely to be the reason behind a large portion of the disagreements or arguments you’ve had in your life (many of which probably turned out to be pointless). You see, problems or conflict will very often arise when we believe, in no uncertain terms, that our way of seeing things is the right way of seeing things but are then met with someone else thinking the exact same thing. The real reality is that both of your perceptions are selective and not a complete or necessarily true account of reality or the experiences you think you’ve had, and therefore neither parties are right, or in fact maybe you are both right.
This presupposition is important because it gets you thinking about empathizing with others even if they don’t share the same ideas as you. Is it really worth arguing about or can you just agree that your opinions are different? As a keen ‘debater’ with family and friends I have to say this was a very important presupposition for me to take on board and work on.
3. The Person With The Most Behavioral Flexibility Has The Most Influence On The Outcome
This presupposition is very simple – when you give yourself more options and/or are willing to adapt to change, you are far more likely to reach your desired outcome than if you try the same thing over and over again. Remember it was the great Albert Einstein himself that defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Rigid thinking might mean you get it right sometimes but flexible thinking means you will get it right more often.
This presupposition can actually be observed in evolutionary terms – the animals and plants that were able to adapt most quickly to the changing environment were the ones that survived.
4. The Meaning Of The Communication Is The Response You Get
It is the perception of the receiver that determines the effectiveness of any interaction, not the intention of the initiator. Essentially, if you want to convey a message to someone, it is your responsibility to make sure you communicate it in a way that they can understand. If they fail to understand, we shouldn’t blame but instead look at how we can change the way we communicate to ensure the message is heard.
5. People Are Much More Than Their Behaviour
Behaving ‘badly’ does not necessarily make someone a bad person. It is a core assumption of NLP that people do the best they can given the resources that they have available to them at that time. So if someone is behaving badly it is because they are unable to access the resources that need to behave differently and are instead, making what they believe to be the best choices available to them at that time. If they had more or different tools, a different perspective, or were in a different situation/environment then they may well behave differently.
Being able to separate ‘the behaviour’ from ‘the person’ is an important and admirable personal competency. Being willing and able to do this will enable you to maintain healthier relationships and empathize more readily with those behaving in ways that are considered inappropriate.
6. There Is No Failure, Only Feedback
‘Feedback’ and ‘Failure’ – a clear difference exists between these two ways of thinking. NLP takes the standpoint that there is no such thing as failure, because the word failure has too many negative connotations and can often evoke negative thinking. Feedback on the other hand, tells us what we did well and what we can do even better next time, to ensure we accomplish our goals. Be solution rather than problem focused – it is a far more productive way of thinking!
So there you have it - ball is in your court now! Read them again, absorb their messages and make a plan to employ them in your life. You can start by focusing on just one for a week and see if you notice any shifts in limiting thoughts, feelings or behaviours. As someone who fears failure, presupposition number 6 is a great one for me to continually practice. If you are the same maybe start here and then work your way through the others.
Enjoy the transformation.
Until next time,
Author: Will Noel-Smith (BSc Hons, INLPTA) is a qualified NLP Practitioner and Exercise Science graduate from Exeter University. He currently works as part of the Discover Synergy Ltd Team, aiding in the design and production of course workbooks as well as assisting in program delivery.
"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much."
Jim Rohn 1930-2009, Author and Speaker
It was the New Moon yesterday, and with it another monthly lunar cycle begins. I started to think about the intentions that we normally make at the beginning of a New Year or a new season, and because we are fairly general in what we want to achieve and the timeline is so big, we often give up after a short time. However, what if we made our goals short term ones, could this actually help us achieve more? I decided to aim this blog more at how to achieve small or short-term goals – a bit like the lunar cycle, achieving something within a month. But how can you get what you want unless you know what it is? Many of us think we know what we want but often fall short of achieving all that we want. While we may have an idea about what we want in life, sometimes we have not really given thought to how to get what we want, what the real costs will be when we get it, or even if getting what we want is aligned with our values and life’s purpose. Without taking time to think about these aspects, getting what we want may be impossible, or in the end turn out to be not at all like what we thought it would be. I do believe however that reducing the scale of effort that is required is more likely you bring about success, and success as we know can be contagious and repeated.
So, here are some actions for you to take to achieve the ‘snappy’ short-term goals that you want to achieve.
Action 1 - Pick just 1 or 2 goals to work with during a month time period. Do not get overwhelmed by trying to change every area of your life. Just pick a couple of areas that you want to begin changing in the next few weeks.
Action 2 - Write your goals down. You will have heard this over and over again about how much more effective goal setting is when you write your goals down. It is totally true. Once you have identified your 2 or 3 goals, write down in detail what it is you want to accomplish, or what stage you want to be in at the end of the time period that you have chosen. Remember to be as realistic as possible. Of course be bold and daring, but chose the level of what you can do carefully.
Action 3 - Once that is done, get a small card and write out an affirmation paragraph that describes in detail how you will feel once you have reached that goal. Keep it in the first person as if you have already accomplished that goal. So something like: “It feels so good now that I’m…” or “ I love the way I can do….”
Action 4 - Make a list and start identifying right now what actions you can take to move you closer to your goals. Make a list of actions you can take today and take them! Do the same thing tomorrow and get in the habit of taking an action each day to move you closer to your goals.
So, think about something you really want to get done, or a habit that you would like to change. Create a plan based on the 4 actions above to achieve this within a month and go for it!
We have all heard that work-life balance is about being balanced across a period of time so that you are able to enjoy yourself with others too – especially your family and loved ones. However, it also goes without saying that this is easier said than done! While finding a more flexible position at work, planning a holiday, moving to shorten the commute, or convincing yourself that this ‘busy period’ will pass, are all at the front of our minds, what can we do today – right now, without drastic changes in our lives or jobs – to make things better? Try these 3 things to help you feel more balanced right now:
Do not work every evening.
There used to be a time when finishing work and going home meant just that. Office technology has made huge advances in recent years: we no longer have to be disconnected or unable to work when traveling, sick or at home. It may be part of your workplace culture to log back in every evening after dinner, but for a change just do not do that for a week of evenings. Take time after work to relax and focus on other areas of your own life. Do the brave thing – switch off your phone and leave your laptop in its briefcase.
Do not look at email / monitor work communications when you are not at work.
This is a tough one. To simplify our lives, we have combined our personal and workplace devices. The endless pings of emails and instant messages could drive one to insanity or exuberance: studies show that the simple act of checking emails can become addictive. I have seen it and I bet you have as well – someone repetitively checking his or her mobile for a new incoming email. Even if you are not on your computer working, continually monitoring work communications means that you are unable to disconnect from your job and fully focus on other aspects of your life. So, cut the cord. Tell your staff, manager, or colleagues that the best way to reach you when you are not in the office is by phone, and only in an emergency. And while this may seem scary at first, it really is not. Think back to times when you tried to reach someone by email or text message. If they did not get back to you right away and it was urgent, then you called them. If not, you waited until the next business day. Again, be brave and stop checking any work emails outside of your office times.
Treat weekends like a real holiday.
Weekends are your time to rest, recover, and recuperate. Do not waste them. Set a drop dead time for yourself (e.g. 5pm on Friday) when you will officially stop working on office related work. Then, go enjoy your weekend. Resist the urge to get back online on Sunday nights – this is a habit made popular by those that want to “get ahead” of the week. It is not needed, necessary, or even practical most of the time. Enjoy your Sunday evening and return to work on Monday morning refreshed and ready to go.
Many people think that giving up personal time in the evenings or weekends is what’s expected from their jobs – and that may be true sometimes – but it should be the exception rather than the rule. It takes a brave person to do this, but this way will work I promise you to really feel the ‘escape’ of the weekend.
These three things are easy to implement and do not require any major job or life changes. However, I mentioned about being brave in all 3 tips for getting more balanced in life. It is being brave because it really requires effort and persistence to make this happen. And bringing them into your life may have an unexpected effect: you may be more engaged and perform better at work! Staying balanced and making sure you take time for yourself each day will ensure that the time you spend at work is the more productive and fulfilling.