NLP stands for for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It uses internal dialogue as a ‘remedial change process’. And is ideal for solving personal problems. It helps us to spot blocks and barriers to progress. And to dismantle them. Which is why I decided to use it to tackle my Avoiding Conflict problem. It is my second biggest weakness. See my blog of 28 April, 2011.
My avoiding conflict problem is deep routed. It is compulsive rather than habitual. Which makes it not just a routine habit. I feel compelled to do it. Which makes it difficult to change. And I need to use NLP to solve it. Because other problem solving techniques are unlikely to do so.
Achieve Remedial Change
From the range of NLP remedial change tools I opted to use the ‘six step reframing procedure’. This tool requires me to engage in an internal dialogue with the psychological part of me that is holding back from changing my conflict avoidence behaviour. The focus of this dialogue is to identify the underlying payoffs of avoiding conflict and find alternative and better ways to achieve them.
NLP Six-step reframing procedure
Identify the issue: Given the option I inevitably choose to avoid conflict and reluctantly engage in it only when I am forced to do so. Then I tense up and tend to over do it.
Communicate with the ‘Holding Back Part’ (HBP): If I was totally committed to avoiding conflict I would not be committed to change this behaviour. So the idea is to enter into an internal dialogue with the psychological part of me that is resisting change. (You will find details of how to go about this in Howie (1997) and other NPL handbooks.)
Check the underlying intention:
HBP (The psychological part of me that is holding back from change):”I believe that life is more pleasant without conflict and the longer I can avoid it the more effectively I can hide my feeling about the issue involved and develop counter arguments that get the better of my opponent.”
Me:” I see conflict as very much part of our lives and managing it as an essential coping skill. I feel that I need to become more skilful at it and I would like you to help me because you have a lot of good ideas about it.”
HBP: “Of course I’ll help. How could I refuse when you have out it so eloquently but you have to respect my very strongly held views. You know that I will not change just for the sake of changing.”
Me: “I respect your views and if we can work together to explore possible minor adjustments we can make some real headway. Let’s agree to work on it together over the next few months with the intention of meeting both of our needs as far as that is humanly possible.”
HBP: “OK. But remember I’m not just going to go along with you for the sake of change.”
Brainstorming new choices: Using the creative part of the brain we, that is HBP and myself, brainstormed the following new choices. (a) Do a Conflict Management Course, (b) Engage a Conflict Management Coach, (c) Experiment with engaging in conflict at an earlier stage than HBP is comfortable with, (d) Do some Assertiveness Training, (e) Work on our handling of disagreement skills.
Implement new choices: Both HBP and myself agreed to work on our disagreement handling skills to begin with. We felt that mastering these skills would help to nip some potential conflict situations in the bud. And openly stating where we stand on issues would avoid misunderstandings and distrust. More importantly it is a less contentious area for us to work on than full blown conflict management.
Check Ecology: To do this I need to ask the following open- ended question inside myself. “Do any other parts of me object to working on this choice?” Strong signals from my feelings, thoughts or imagery will indicate objections. I this case I do not sense any strong signals so we can get on with working on our disagreement skills.
Disagreement Handling Skills
At http//www.guardian.co.uk/money/2002/oct/26/careers.students I found a very helpful article on disagreement skills by Anne Thorpe. I selected the following ideas from it to work on.
- Learn to couch disagreement in a positive response. Try to never disagree directly even when the suggestion is unacceptable. Listen and agree that it is interesting, before gently questioning it.
- Opt for neutral, open-ended phrases at first, like saying “that’s a different angle” or “it’s interesting or definitely worth considering”. Above all avoid agreeing with someone first off and then having to tell them later that you change your opinion.
- What people want most when they suggest something, is to believe you have heard and understand their suggestion. For example, “I understand. You think a mail shot would solve this problem for us.”
- Explain your disagreement with clear reasons that show what your difference of opinion is based on. It helps to look at disagreements as an exchange of ideas. Your reasons for disagreeing are what needs to be discussed. Think about what problems you foresee with the suggestion and raise them as concerns.
- While it can be tough to disagree remember that as long as your opinions are well thought out and backed up with evidence it is the right thing to do.
- If you disagree in the right way you can be looked on more favourably than if you don’t say a word or are perceived as a ‘yes-man’.
- It is less about what you say and more about how you say it. Try to see disagreeing with someone as a means to win them over to your point of view rather than making them defensive.
- When you can find something good in the idea and expand it with some thoughts of your own you can enhance the chance of reaching agreement. Invariably it’s not the idea you disagree with but the issues attached to it. So the trick is to identify what these are and raise them as concerns for discussion.