On our first date, Heather listened intently and then challenged me when I said that I manipulate clients at my job – as a performance coach, it’s my job to see, hear and do the things that they may not want to see, hear or do in order to become something that say that they want to become.
Her challenge was to see how I respond to the same thing that I put my clients through. It was unexpected and unnerving because first dates tend to be light-hearted, surface skimming affairs that leave the two people with an answer to the questions “will I spend time with this person again?” As first dates go, this one wasn’t going like any that I had been on before.
Heathers questions were direct, hard hitting and required an intense type of intersection that I usually save for my clients who need to have their world view challenged in order to jump start a transformation. “Why do you think your future relationships will be any different from your past relationships?” was one question that came pretty close to flooring me. During the conversation that was my answer, I became aware of that sick feeling I get when someone is manipulating me; it’s a feeling of excitement or anxiety, and is indicative of a level of arousal on some level. I wasn’t 100% aware of it at the time, but Heather would lean in, make a comment that required some thinking and then lean back. While she did this, I would lean back to receive the comment and then lean in to answer.
This went on for an intense few minutes before I got up and went to the wash room. I splashed water on my face, grounded my self and returned to the table.
“So did you think of something to say?”
“I don’t know if my future will be better than the past, I don’t have a plan other than not doing the same things I did in the past, so different may end up being better.”
There was a change in the conversation immediately after this comment. Heather’s body language loosened and she seemed to be more at ease. The topic of NLP came up and she mentioned that she had taken a course.
“Oh my god, you were fu(king with me” was my impulsive replay. And her smirk said “yeah.” “You said that you controlled people so I needed to see how you could handle it yourself.”
“How did I do?”
“Fine, you squirmed a lot, but you didn’t fold. You stayed engaged and basically went with it.”
“Thanks,” is said, kind of smiling and doing everything I could to not give off that what she had done and just said actually lifted me up. Not surprisingly, I ended-up signing up for the same course she took.
Now, as first dates go, I don’t plan on having another. There was something almost aggressive about the conversation. Not disrespectful, but confrontational; not between her and me but between me and me. I get why she is a successful leader at work and helps people achieve more of their potential, often more than what they believe they can achieve.
But something started happening to my awareness of myself that seems to have opened the flood gate of possibilities. There is no mistaking it, Heather engaged me using some of the NLP techniques she learned. There wasn’t any manipulation involved, but her choice of language altered the way I process things. It had a profound impact on the content of the scripts I use to manage my involvement in the world and these change reality, dramatically.
The NLPWorks course is outstanding, bringing to conscious light many of the things that I was doing but without any knowledge. It is reassuring to have a road map that outlines my behavior so I can repeat it in a predictable way. The processes are powerful and through practicing them with the other participants they have brought needed resources to certain challenging situations.
One thing that has changed in how I describe what I do. Gone from my description is the term “manipulation,” replaced with the phase “I show, tell and get people to feel the truth in order for them to achieve their goals.”
I remain very curious to see how NLP will continue to impact my world, my functioning and my life.