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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘NLP’

Communicating Effectively (Part II)

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

You Cannot Not Communicate

A political figure refuses to comment on a current news story in which he is involved.. In the hope of avoiding a scuffle with her parents, a teenager, who has broken curfew, quietly opens up the front door. As she makes a mad dash to her room, she tries to avoid being noticed and questioned. In both situations, a lack of communication may be perceived as failure on the part of the individual to take responsibility for his/her actions, and/or an admission of guilt. In such cases when the person does not say yes, the message being conveyed to others can be perceived as noby default, and vice versa.

While we may not necessarily think about it or believe it to be true, we are “always” communicating. When we do not reply to a question, when we refuse to take part in a discussion, when we remove ourselves physically from an interaction or when we slam a door behind us, we are still communicating a message as our body language, sounds and behaviors do the “speaking.” This is what is meant by the NLP presupposition, you cannot not communicate.

Consider what happens when a communicator does not speak words to us, nor do we have any clarity of the experience or his/her behavior. Still, we do receive a message based on “our” observation of the experience or the behavior. What a powerful, yet inaccurate means of acquiring information. Now, as the observer, we are headed into a task. We will access a host of resources in order to help us develop a conclusion, including looking to our own thoughts, feelings, judgments, biases and life experiences, and utilizing them to provide us with a meaning to our observation. While these interpretations are, in fact, our reality, they can easily lead us to create beliefs which are not necessarily rooted in any truth. In the final analysis, such beliefs potentially can lead us to behaviors that fuel negativity and conflict while also hindering relationships in our lives.

In fact, for those who relate better to processing visually, the above idea can be viewed in terms of the following equation:

lack of verbal communication/clarity + observation + interpretation + belief =

negative outcome

As a way to bring more depth and understanding to this point, let us look to our ancestors in Bereishis (Genesis) and take note of their experiences in three different instances.

Picture the first scenario: Abraham has just expelled Yishmael and Hagar from his home at a point, according to the medrash, when Yishmael was weak with a high fever.  Rashi comments that Abraham provided them with minimal provisions (i.e., no gold or silver; only bread and water). And his reasoning was spiritual: he did not wish to enable Yishmael to continue living a life of tarbus ra-ah (evil behavior).

Moving forward…When, in the wilderness, their supplies ran out, Hagar threw her son under a tree and left him there to die of thirst. Her reckoning was rooted in a belief, a belief which was based on a recent experience to which she had ascribed meaning: “If Abraham expelled Yishmael from his home with limited provisions, ‘it must mean’ he hates his son. Why else would a father do such a despicable act? And if his father does not care about him, then why should I? Let Abraham take care of him!” At that point, Hagar’s intention was to abandon her son and look for another husband. (Note: For more detailed information, see the Meam Loez on Vayera 21:15-16.)

The outcome was negative, and Hagar was admonished by the Torah for displaying a poor character trait.

In a second illustration, a youthful Joseph noticed specific behaviors associated with his brothers. He saw them eating that which he considered aiver min hachai (flesh from a living animal). He also saw them fraternizing with the local girls. Giving his own interpretation to these observations, he brought back accusations about his brothers to his father.

Of course having the advantage of reading the medrash, we are provided with logical and solid reasons to help explain the behaviors of the brothers. On the other hand, Joseph was not privy to that information. He lacked clarity as to the status of his brothers. Were they considered Bnei Yisrael and therefore obligated to observe the Torah’s Laws? Or were they viewed as Bnei Noach (Noahide) and therefore bound exclusively to the Seven Noahide Laws? As to the second observation, of fraternizing with the local girls, yes, the brothers were speaking to the womenfolk. However, it was within the context of a business relationship; they were buying and selling goods. (Note: For more detailed information, see the Meam Loez on Vayeshev 37:2.)

Once again, the outcome in both these observations was negative. As we know from the medrash, the reports that Joseph presented to his father were a contributing factor to the ensuing jealousy and hatred the brothers felt toward him.

In the final scenario, we fast forward to the period when Joseph is Viceroy of Egypt, and his brothers are aware of his true identity.

When Joseph and his brothers were on the way to bury their father in Canaan, Joseph had stopped off at a location near Shechem. It was the site of the pit into which Joseph had been thrown years back. Being unaware of the reason for this stopover, and without any communication on Joseph’s part, the brothers’ observation led them to interpret the experience in their own way. When the brothers noticed Joseph staring into the pit, they instinctively perceived this behavior as part of a vendetta, “believing” that he was stirring up within him hatred toward them. Perhaps he was preparing to take revenge now that their father was gone.

Again, due to a lack of communication, the brothers were unaware of Joseph’s true intentions. The reason for his stopping at the pit was in order to recite a blessing for the miracle Hashem had performed for him at this location years before (“Blessed is He who performed a miracle for me in this place”).

Ironically, that same belief manifested itself a second time.

Upon their return to Egypt, after having buried their father, the brothers noticed that Joseph’s behavior toward them had changed. He had stopped dining with them on a regular basis; however, he had not communicated his intentions. With no concrete information available, and relying exclusively on their observation, the brothers assigned meaning to Joseph’s behavior. And that interpretation stemmed from the same belief they held earlier, that Joseph might be harboring hatred toward them because of their past action, of throwing him into the pit.

Once again, there was an intention behind the behavior. The medrash (Breishis Rabbah 108) explains that Jacob’s death marked the beginning of the slavery. And Joseph was concerned that if he showed favoritism to his brothers, the Egyptian hatred would increase, thereby endangering their lives. However, Joseph did not communicate to his brothers these political considerations. Since they were not privy to the information, the brothers interpreted his apparent rebuff (rejection) as a signal that he might want to take revenge on them. (Note: For more detailed information, see Meam Loez on Vayechi 50:15.)

As these examples demonstrate, in any interaction, when there is a lack of communication and/or clarification with regard to behavior, the observer will be left with nothing more than his own devices with which to interpret the communicator’s message.

So where does that leave us?

In order to be an effective communicator, it is vital for us to take note of such instances when communication is lacking or unclear, and the part “we” take in assigning meaning to our observations and interpretations. While some schools of communication say that both parties in a communication take 50% (each) of the onus for their communication, NLP suggests that we shoot a little higher and take 100% responsibility.

In the final analysis, if we wish to upgrade our communication, it is equally important to take responsibility for that which we convey when communication is lacking as we do when we verbally communicate. If that were the case, I wonder how our lives would be different!

In the next segment on Communicating Effectively, our focus will be Rapport: Establishing and Maintaining It.

Debbie Brown is a certified life coach specializing in parent coaching, and is an NLP Master Practitioner. She is available for private, confidential phone coaching sessions as well as lectures and group workshops. For further information or to express feelings regarding the Parental Perspective topic, Debbie may be contacted at lovetoughcoach@aol.com

Communicating Effectively (Part I)

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In today’s world, thankfully, we are blessed with the proliferation of material discussing the importance of effective communication in maintaining healthy and productive relationships. We are inundated with articles, books, lectures and workshops all with the express purpose of making this point clear. And while most of us understand what is meant by communication, how many of us reflect on the actual process involved in getting across the message we are attempting to convey? More importantly, what exact message is the recipient receiving (i.e., hearing, understanding) and how does s/he interpret the information?

The answer to these can be found in certain presuppositions (assumptions/givens) of NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP is a set of principles and strategies that focuses on the details of how we communicate (externally and internally); how we process, store and recall this communication; and how we can change and empower this communication to achieve the results and goals we want.

In this series we will walk through the process of communication, as a means of helping us understand how we affect one another’s current or future behaviors through our verbal communication or our lack of it. This awareness can help us become more adaptable (flexible) in our communication thereby giving us more choice and opportunities to enhance our relationships.

So how does one become a more flexible communicator?

Webster defines communication asa process by which there is an interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs; something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted. Wikipedia adds: The information is enclosed in a package (message) and is channeled and imparted by a sender to a receiver via some medium (i.e., auditory, such as speech or tone of voice; non-verbal, such as body language or eye contact). The receiver then decodes the message and gives the sender feedback. However – and here is the big however — the receiver’s feedback will be based on how “s/he” perceives the message from the sender. It may not necessarily match the sender’s true intention of the message.

In order to become a more flexible communicator, first we must recognize that each of us perceives the world through our own five senses (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, taste and smell). We use these perceptions, in conjunction with our personal life’s experiences, values, opinions and beliefs, to build an internal representation of the world around us, otherwise known as our “maps” or maps of the world. * Keeping in mind that each person’s map is different (mine differs from yours and vice versa), when we communicate, we do so based on our [own] subjective maps.

Have you ever been at the receiving end of the following expressions, spoken either as a declarative statement, such as: “It’s only a joke!” or in a question format: “Can’t you take a joke?” If the sender’s intention is to make a joke and you respond by starting to cry, the intended meaning (sharing some fun) and your actual perceived meaning (crying) are very different. As a matter of fact, it may not even be what the communicator says, but how s/he says it that triggers your response. Then the question becomes which of the meanings holds more credibility? And the answer is, neither. There is no right or wrong. However, there is the reality: crying is the “real” meaning of the communication.

The meaning of our communication is not what we think it means. Rather, it is in the response we get from the receiver of our communication. This is what is meant by the NLP presupposition: the meaning of the communication is the response it elicits.

Here is an interesting illustration.

Since the beginning of their marriage, Zev had been bringing home a beautiful selection of flowers for his wife, Rebbeca, in honor of Shabbos. In response to his thoughtfulness, Rebecca would express gratitude and communicate a plethora of kind words upon receiving the flower arrangement. As time passed and their family size increased, Erev Shabbos entailed a mad rush, especially in the winter months when Shabbos began early. Along with the hassles and her overwhelming feeling, Rebecca’s usual pleasant words of appreciation for the gift of flowers had begun to wane. Eventually, they were not forthcoming.

At the other end of the relationship, after a few months of noticing Rebecca’s change in behavior, Zev stopped bringing home flowers. And since Rebecca had been intensely consumed with “life” on Erev Shabbos, she had not noticed the absence of the flowers until after candle lighting, when the atmosphere was a bit calmer. Without communicating her thoughts or feelings, Rebecca would just sit on the couch, feeling hurt at not having received her weekly gift. Within a short period of time, her feelings gave rise to a new belief, that her husband had stopped loving her.

The meaning of their communication were the responses they were eliciting.

As soon as Rebecca stopped responding with gratitude, Zev’s interpretation of his wife’s behavior was, “my wife doesn’t appreciate my efforts.” And without communication and clarification by either of them, Zev’s behavior corresponded to his hurt feelings; he stopped bringing flowers to his wife. In turn, his new behavior also elicited feelings on the part of his wife. Rebecca felt slighted and upset that her husband had stopped bringing her flowers. Again, rather than each of them communicating their thoughts and feelings, or gaining clarification as to that which was behind their respective behaviors, both Zev and Rebecca assigned meaning to each other’s behavior, interpretations that were not rooted in any truths. The result was an air of negativity in their relationship.

If we are to become more flexible and effective communicators, it is up to us (the sender of the communication) to take responsibility for how our verbal and non-verbal communication are “perceived” by the receiver, whether the communication is face-to-face, over the phone, by email or in writing. Obviously we cannot “directly” change the way our message is perceived. However, if we pay close attention to the response, we will get feedback on how our well “intended” communication was received. If it was not received as it was intended, we can change our approach.

As this segment comes to a close, I leave you to ponder the following three NLP principles that relate to flexibility in communication and behavior.

The Process Of Change (Conclusion)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

There are theories to help explain how change occurs. The Stages of Change Model (SCM), which was introduced in the late 1970s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente*, has been used to help us understand the mind/body stages we go through when we change. The model also provides us with the sense as to the complexity and chaos involved in the process. With this awareness, there is greater potential for us to generate more patience, understanding and compassion – towards others and towards ourselves – as we navigate the struggles within each stage.

In Part I, we focused on Pre-Contemplation, the first stage. In this article we will identify the remaining stages, and explain each phase as it relates to parenting changes. (Note: The name used in the illustrations below was chosen randomly.)

Stage 2 – Contemplation

In this the stage, people are aware that a problem exists; however they are ambivalent. They will weigh the pros and cons of modifying their behavior. And although they are beginning to recognize there may be potential benefits to making a change, the costs (not exclusively fiscal) tend to stand out. They may be viewing change as a process of giving something up rather than gaining vital benefits (i.e., mental, emotional and physical well-being). This conflict can cause some people to procrastinate and not commit to taking action.

On a positive note, during this phase, people are more open to receiving information. They are more likely to use educational interventions, and reflect on their own feelings and thoughts concerning their behavior. Since this is a time of self-reflection, it may be helpful to consider the following questions: Why do I want to change? What benefits can I expect to experience when I change? What type of support would I need to help me change?

During our initial conversation, Ariella listed an array of resources she tapped into during recent months, including parenting tapes, lectures and workshops. All in all, she had amassed a great deal of information on effective parenting from well-known educators and professionals. However, she was still experiencing the same problems with her adolescent; hence, the phone call.

Ariella’s inquiry came from a place of fear and concern for her family’s sense of sanity and security. She realized it was time for a change, and perhaps coaching would provide her with an answer to her most daunting question: “How can I regain control of my home?” Needless to say, Ariella was eager to find a solution, however, she was conflicted. Her work schedule, personal family stressors, and involvement in two wedding preparations were in the forefront of her mind. To quote her, “Life is so overwhelming. I have absolutely no time or energy to tend to sessions at this point.”

Although Ariella was not yet ready to commit to a coaching relationship and a learning process, I left her with one vital question to consider:”Will the cost to your well-being and family relationship be greater if you do not begin working on a different parenting methodology?”

Stage 3 – Preparation

In the preparation stage, people have made a commitment to make a change. They might make statements such as: “I’ve got to do something about this – this is serious!” Or they will explore avenues that will lead them toward their desired change. At this juncture, they will seek outside resources (i.e., professional direction, a support group, friends and/or educational literature) that will supply them with effective guidance, encouragement and inspiration. In essence, they will take small steps that will help improve their chances of successfully making a longer lasting change.

The second time Ariella contacted me she was prepared to commit to a coaching relationship. She approached coaching with the idea that her coach would give her instructions and some quick answers that would solve her problems. She also anticipated that her coach would help turn her child into a compliant young person (i.e., a mensch). Lesson number one, therefore, focused on differentiating between aspects of control: beliefs (i.e., what we believe is in our control) versus a reality check (i.e., what, truly, is in our control).

Stage 4 – Action

During this fourth stage of change, people begin taking direct action in order to accomplish their goals. They will hold themselves accountable to their long-term goal by setting up shorter term goals that are attainable and measurable. Additionally, this is the time for people to review their motivations, resources, and progress in order to refresh their commitment and belief in their abilities to change.

Ariella had stated her outcome; she wanted to communicate more effectively with her children. Beginning with a small goal, she undertook a practice for the week, of uttering to each child (at least) one positive statement per day. However, the task required a thinking process when it came to her struggling child. What a discovery opportunity! Ariella’s challenge, therefore, was to look for a few qualities in this child, the one whose negative behaviors stood out most prominently. And although the task was a struggle, it was, nevertheless, doable. Her coach was there right by her side, playing a vital role: supporting and reinforcing her continued positive steps of achieving excellence toward her long-term goal.

Stage 5 – Maintenance

The maintenance phase involves successfully avoiding former behaviors and keeping up with new behaviors. It is during this time that people become more assured of their ability to continue with their change. However, since the human factor is involved, there are different reasons why people lapse into previous behaviors. In that regard, here are some thoughts to consider.

When people work on making fundamental changes in their parent-child relationship, it is difficult for them to be objective. Since they are diligently working to undo behaviors in which they have been engaged most of their lives, they require ongoing perseverance and a patient attitude. However, that is not always possible. Sometimes individuals lack centeredness, and they forget to tap into their resourceful self. For example, when people are tired, stressed and angry, they forget about their newer behaviors. Or if they are being judged and friends or relatives are questioning their methodology (i.e., “I would never do that,” or “You are enabling him.”), they may doubt the changes they have begun making.

Ariella was in the habit of observing other parents, seeing how well they seemed to interact with their children, especially those who were implementing control mechanisms (which she had previously used). She felt inept, incapable and embarrassed because she could not manage things at home. When she doubted her parenting skills, she would revert to her old ways. Her coach validated her discomfort and assured her that such feelings were quite common and normal for a parent whose child was struggling. For future purposes, though, her coach advised her not to engage in comparisons, simply, because she was being unfair to herself. Instead, her coach provided her with a few encouraging mantras: “Don’t be too hard on yourself,” “Don’t give up; setbacks happen,” “Relapse is a common part of the process of making a lifelong change.”

Changing one’s parenting approach is synonymous with changing one’s character traits. The process is highlighted by its ups and downs, rises and falls, and is often referred to as a roller coaster ride. I wonder did you ever reflect on this exciting mode of enjoyment? Passengers on the ride are forewarned of possible dangers if rules and restrictions are not heeded. There is a safeguard – a seat belt that provides security. An operator, who is always present, runs the ride, and sees to the safety of the passengers and progress of the ride. And then there is the park director, the overseer who sits up on high. He is aware of all. He cares about the personal well being of each passenger, first and foremost. And isn’t it interesting, that as the cars ascend, and the passengers anticipate an intense drop, they seem to trust the Director, the One controlling the overall operation.

* http://www.addictioninfo.org/articles/11/1/Stages-of-Change-Model/Page1.html

Debbie Brown is a certified life coach specializing in parent coaching, and is an NLP practitioner. She is available for private, confidential phone coaching sessions as well as lectures and group workshops. For further information or to express feelings regarding the Parental Perspective topic, Debbie may be contacted at lovetoughcoach@aol.com.

The Significance Of Saying Dayenu

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The pictures had been removed from the wall a while back. Carefully and methodically, they had been placed in the back of her desk drawer, a spot that could be reached only if one were looking for something intentionally. Other pictures were inconspicuously hanging in the corner, situated on a wall blocked by a large, mismatched piece of furniture. There were also loose photographs, neatly stacked in their original envelope, discreetly placed in an unmarked folder located in the back of her filing cabinet.

A few remained on the wall, but only a few. It was too painful for her to view them all, facing her directly day after day, reminding her of a time that was, a period in her life she could never again retrieve.

Normally she would not consider even touching them, let alone viewing them. However at this time of year, when Pesach cleaning is in the air, she could not help but rummage through some of her drawers and cabinets. Discovering the envelopes and gazing at its contents, she is overtaken by a powerful urge – evoking within her curiosity – to pick them up. One by one she scans each photo; contemplating – reminiscing – listening to her inner voice reflecting upon those earlier years.

“I can’t get over that smile; it’s so angelic. He’s so adorable and cute! I could just eat him up! How did I not see that back then? Sure I played with him as any nurturing mother would. But I have little recollection of enjoying this precious child during those tender toddler years. And yet, the one thing that does stand out vividly in my mind is my complaining, and my lack of patience at his screaming and whining. How could I have wasted that time?”

Had she known then what she understands presently – that her baby’s screaming and whining are a part of G-d’s Master Plan for her to develop patience – then maybe she would have said dayenu.

She picks up another batch of photos. This pile appears to be that of her son’s earlier school years. Flipping through each one and pondering that period in her life, she thinks about her son’s adjustment to school, homework, learning, friendships. And, within seconds, her thoughts are focused on his temperament.

Her inner voice painfully speaks: “Nothing was easy for him, or for me. Everything seemed to have been a struggle and an issue, from ending playtime and doing homework to brushing teeth and bedtime. Whatever I said was met with resistance. And to think the toddler years were tough! Oh, how I wish that stage could reappear!”

Had she appreciated then what she is thankful for today- that her child’s resistance and arguing are a part of G-d’s Master Plan for her to acknowledge his sharp mind and intelligence – then perhaps she could have said dayenu.

She gasps when she picks up the next envelope. The childlike face is gone; four inches taller, his body filled out and he’s suddenly a young man. Ah yes, the onset of adolescence. There he is in his Purim costume with a bottle of beer in hand and an unlit cigarette in his mouth.

As she gapes, her inner voice projects confusion: “Look at him; he thinks he’s an adult but he shows no responsibility. How could someone be so bright, ask profound questions and achieve such high grades throughout his academic career only to dismiss it all now. His learning means little compared to his social life. Even sports activities have gone by the wayside. The non-stop arguments over homework, curfew and, going to shul and davening are a daily struggle. His chutzpah is rampant. How I yearn for those days when the only major issues were teeth-brushing, homework and bedtime.”

Had she observed then what she notices now – that amidst her son’s compelling socializing behaviors are a part of G-d’s Master Plan for her to recognize and focus on his interpersonal skills; and to praise the exemplary character traits (middos) he embodies and demonstrates toward his friends and others – then it’s possible she would have said dayenu.

In another unmarked folder, a more recent picture lay dormant. She picks up a single passport photo. It’s the only picture she has of her son during this juncture. His hair is wild, long and partially colored. He is bedecked with piercing and jewelry. And he dresses in clothing she never imagined would have entered into her home.

Tears begin to emerge as her inner voice cries: “Why didn’t the schools try harder to keep him? Why couldn’t some of his better friends stick with him? When did the transformation take place? One minute his tzitzis are flying out of his pockets, and before my very eyes, they’re replaced with tattered jeans and tee shirts. How I wish we could quarrel just a bit. Oh, how I wish he would disagree with me about curfew. But how could he? Between his staying out a large part of the night and sleeping most of the day, our paths rarely cross. Between his grunts and depressing look, there are few words spoken between us.”

Had she felt then what she senses at this moment – that her son’s unhappiness and disengagement from the family are a part of G-d’s Master Plan for her to feel her son’s loneliness and to raise compassion for his pain and struggles – then she might have most assuredly said dayenu.

With the advent of the Pesach Sedarim, perhaps now might be a good time to move the theme of dayenu beyond the realm of the Hagaddah. Consider the following:

If your struggling teenage daughter shows up to the family Seder, appreciate that she came and has a desire to be a part of the family. If you hug her, give her a kiss and truly make her feel she belongs with you, you might feel fulfilled when you say dayenu.

If your struggling teenage son drops in while you are in the midst of the Seder and if he quickly escapes to the security of his room, appreciate that he came home.You might, then, excuse yourself from the table and go to his room with a piece of kugel or some other yom tov delicacy. And as you smile warmly and kiss him while wishing him a good yom tov, the love and compassion you demonstrate might help you feel uplifted when you say dayenu.

May Hashem strengthen all struggling families with chizuk and hope, and provide personal salvation and redemption to the entire family.

Debbie Brown is a certified life coach specializing in parent coaching, and is an NLP practitioner. She is available for private, confidential phone coaching sessions as well as lectures and group workshops. For further information or to express feelings regarding the Parental Perspective topic, Debbie may be contacted at lovetoughcoach@aol.com

If you would like to read Debbie’s archived articles, log on to www.jewishpress.com and, in the search box on the home page, type in Debbie Brown.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/the-significance-of-saying-dayenu/2009/04/07/

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