For a specific work assignment, I am brushing up on my NLP skills; more specifically, I'm reviewing my teaching materials on conversational hypnosis and persuasion strategies, as per a specific request by the client who hired me.
I am struck yet again by how traditional approaches differ from Solution-Focused ones.
Let's take negotiation skills: a topic that I teach in workshops and in which many clients want to be coached.
The NLP skills used in negotiation are designed to get the other side to say yes to your pre-packaged proposal, as quickly as possible. The other side's ideas are not treated as an input that could add value to the proposal; they are just a source of information that is used to reframe your message in more persuasive terms.
I teach a Solution-Focused-derived negotiation system. The main goal in the approach I teach is to co-create a shared vision with the other side, giving him or her as many opportunities as possible to think it through and to say no.
Let's take a look at the helping professions (therapy, counseling, coaching).
Most of the traditional approaches are based on the concept of "overcoming": overcoming resistance, overcoming the conscious (or the unconscious), overcoming past conditioning, solving the problem. There is always an obstacle, an "enemy". Traditional approaches differ in their theories of who or what the enemy is.
Solution-Focused approaches, on the other hand, are based on the concept of "exploring": exploring past successes, finding out what works and what does not work, exploring which options are available. There is no enemy to fight, there simply is a territory to be explored in more detail from different angles - what the client knows is being re-arranged as the solution-focused conversation develops.
It all boils down to a single question: Who knows better?
If the answer is: the practitioner, then we are operating within a traditional framework. The client needs to be educated using psychological techniques and complex communication strategies to overcome his or her resistance. The client needs to learn a new game and new rules, as Wittgenstein would say. Game and rules that are going to be taught by the practitioner.
If the answer is: the client, then we are in operating within an empowering / Solution-Focused framework. The client is not in need of enlightenment or education. The client is the expert. Clients do not need to learn a new game or new rules; they simply got entangled in their own rules. Clients need only to play with their own rules, within their own game, to disentangle themselves.
Clients' statements are to be taken at face value. And that is what we work with.
Cross-posted at: www.briefcoachingsolutions.com
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