Laugh! This is serious!

In summer-time – even a rainy summer – family business sometimes takes place outside;  I’ve just  heard a frustrated parent across the back gardens shout: “Don’t laugh! This is serious!”

I’ve got into the habit, caught from Byron Katie and Nancy Klein (read their books if you haven’t already – they’re great!), of turning statements upside-down. So I experimented with this one, “Laugh! This is serious!”

 

Of course, LIFE, as understood in work, economics, politics, culture and religion, is serious. We live ever closer to the brink of disaster. The daily news brings doom and gloom. It was only recently that I noticed how much kinaesthetic language is employed in newspapers. That’s the language of touch, feeling, movement and weight (e.g. doom and gloom) – as opposed to visual language (vision, perspective, imagination etc.) and auditory language (sound, tell, tune etc.). Kinaesthetic words in news coverage outnumber visual and auditory by at least 4 to 1. Kinaesthetic battle language is especially popular.

From the latest news, I took just the kinaesthetic words from a short article about House of Lords reform in the Guardian (the red tops have perhaps even more K language):

“Angry confrontation … revolt … challenge … effective operation … rebellion … Prime Minister confronted … defy a three line whip … disgraceful … leading rebel … displeasure … anger … sought out … confronted … even more aggressive … damaged … resigned … sacked … thrown off course … whipping operation … withdrawal … join forces with the rebels to reject … failed to block … classic whipping operation … ran it with great discipline … risking … try to win … revive … get defeated again … object … damage … visceral issue … not budge … insisted … persuaded … win over … persuade … pressurized atmosphere … tempers may cool … raised the temperature … reject … remove … driving force … challenged  directly.”

Wow, does it make you feel tired? It does me!

Then I thought of popular phrases from politics, sport, health and religion:

Battle for hearts and minds; crush the opposition; fight the good fight; we will overcome; attack and defend the goal; love is war; crushing defeat; battle with cancer; fight for peace (I like that one!); battle of the sexes; battle of wills, a fighting chance.

I wonder what effect reading such kinaesthetic battle language day after day has on our perception of the world? You might think it encourages us to feel something, but it’s feeling that hangs heavily.

What if we found a different language, just in the spirit of turning things upside-down? For example, we could describe the political story in terms of sound for a change. The people involved would be discordant, and might shout, grumble or speak in a harsh tone … but they would express, pronounce, tell it as it is, and then they might tune-in, listen, hear, chime in, strike a chord, resonate and there would be dialogue, leading to a flow of discourse and eventual harmony, singing off the same hymn sheet

OK – games!  And I’m cheating a bit: I could have used more warlike sound language such as Bam! Kerpow! Splat! Bang! Bedoyng! Crash! Clap! Boom!  (this is easy, I’m writing in the middle of a thunder storm!)  But it’s still not the same, is it?

Maybe lightness itself is the missing piece?

Laugh! This is serious!

In coaching, laughter and tears are close bedfellows. Humour and laughter are often the elements that light the way into human darkness and allow you to see more clearly.  In a mire of heavy feeling, seeing clearly is just what’s wanted.

In these heavy-feeling times, the greatest leaders embrace the light touch – they avoid rigidity and dogma, move flexibly,  let go when necessary, and see things as they are,   People make a better decisions when they lighten up.

Remember Chesterton’s familiar quote, Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly .

Note especially the penultimate word. If you and I tread lightly today, what will be different?  How will we fly?

Voice & Speaking Skills For Dummies

Heading in large print, because my book is out! It’s full of good stuff, do dip into it. You can see the full contents and look inside on Amazon here.

Floating ahead to autumn …

… which will be here before we know it. It’s time to book for autumn events. The people who come to them make our workshops, and this year they achieved some amazing things, made individual break throughs, took important decisions, grew in confidence, capability and self-belief. You can read their own words on the website.

If you are tempted to dip your toe in the water, here’s a reminder of Autumn workshops and other events booking now.

Booking

To book any of the workshops below, go to www.voiceofinfluence.co.uk.  Or contact me at judy@voiceofinfluence.co.uk.  I offer special rates for deserving self funding people, those who work for charities and others.

Voice of Influence: 18-19 October 2012

Find your authentic powerful voice, overcome performance anxiety, and speak with confidence and ease – however daunted you are at present. This workshop meets you where you are, and allows you to discover your individual way to be a powerful speaker.

NLP Diploma

– the best of NLP in a convenient, affordable format – individual workshops can be taken separately:

Communication & Relationships: 25-26 October 2012

The ability to connect naturally with people – to have better relationships with others and with yourself – is a key attribute shared by all successful leaders.  After this workshop you’ll know yourself better, understand more clearly what makes others tick, and be considerably more confident in all situations that rely on good communication.

Leadership & Influence: 15-16 November 2012

A large part of your influence is connected to your sense of presence and whether others see the leader in you. This course will contribute significantly to your inner and outer confidence. You’ll feel more comfortable in your skin and be more present in the moment and able to manage your state as a leader in every sphere of your life.

Coaching & Change: 6-7 December 2012

The power of a simple conversation! Discover how to go for the best, and how to get the best out of others with subtle yet powerful coaching skills. Becoming a skilled coach of others is an important part of your own personal development, and you will find your effectiveness and creativity blossom as you help people step into their true potential.

NLP Practitioner: Spring 2013

3 days plus  1-2-1 – follows on from the Diploma. Put it all together and go for the NLP Practitioner qualification, which opens the way to the Master Practitioner and beyond.

NLP Conference now booking

This popular annual event in London, 9-11 November, is a great way to listen to some of the most interesting NLP teachers and thinkers from all over the world. Go to www.nlpconference.com for further details.

Spirit of Coaching

The 11th Spirit of Coaching event, ‘Going for Gold’, took place last week in London – what inspiring meetings these are! The Spirit of Coaching Conference is on 22 September in London. Further details very shortly.

 

So summer, and rain  in the UK  (laugh, this is serious!) –  I hope you experience lightness and fun during your summer – and moments of clarity too!

Go well!

Judy

Playing with words

Language shapes our thinking – can you only think what you have words for?

 SnowmanWhat times we live in! I am struck by the contrasting ways in which human behaviour is described. That useful magazine “The Week” publishes extracts from newspapers of every complexion, and repeatedly you can find a single topic described in wildly different ways. “Hurray for openness!” says one commentator; “Terrible leaks!” wails another. “Personal responsibility”, states one; “savage cuts” complains another. “Freedom of self-determination” shouts one; “Terrorism!” proclaims another.

Abstract nouns! NLP has quite a bit to say about these. It calls them ‘nominalisations’ and nominalisations are famously slippery, elusive and vague.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things
.”�
                                                                                                     Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking Glass.

Well, you certainly can if you use abstractions!

“Love” is a particularly vague abstract noun as it makes do for such a cornucopia of different emotions: parental love, sexual love, love of chocolate brownies, love of taking long lunch-breaks in the pub … Two thousand years ago the Greeks gave us a wise lead by employing four different words for love –  agape–affection, eros-desire , philia-friendship  and storge–family love. But the English language did not go the way of the Greeks …

Nor of the Eskimos: the author Edward De Bono describes the rich vocabulary of love among the Inuit people who use subtle distinctions to manage relationships in the confinement of their long snowy winters. He refers to one of their words for love that translates as “I like you very much, but I would not go seal-hunting with you”. Now that might serve as a useful comeback at a party this Christmas!

One suggestion NLP makes to help unravel the meaning of abstract nouns is to turn them into verbs or “action words”. Our “love” then becomes the process of how we love each other, and our “relationship” becomes the process of how we relate to each other. It’s often easier to understand the meaning of a situation when an abstraction is turned into a process.

The linguist Benjamin Whorf argued that the fact that the Eskimos have 200 words for snow indicates that they have a much richer thinking on the subject.  So what about our more limited language for the idea of love – or indeed, given the season, love, joy and peace? Are we impoverished by having “one size fits all” for such concepts?

When we turn these abstract nouns of love, joy and peace into processes (noun into verb) we can see more clearly their limitations. It involves a bit more grammar but for a purpose!

Verbs are either transitive (which means they have an object; for example “I hit you”); or they can be intransitive (which means there is no object – for example “I sleep”; “I sleep you doesn’t make sense). An intransitive verb describes a state of being rather than something that is done to someone else.

So love, joy and peace

If we play a little with these words as processes, love is already a transitive verb:  “I love you. I love my fellow man.” But there is no intransitive equivalent to describe loving as a state of being – “I am loving” gets quite close to it, but a verb meaning “I am love-ful” would really good to add to our vocabulary.

What do you do, where do you go, what do you remember in order to enter the state of feeling “love-ful”?

For joy, we can “enjoy”, but it would be useful to have the more generative verb meaning “I am joy-ful”. And it would also be good to have a transitive verb “to joy” to express the concept of spreading or extending joy to someone.

I can “hurt you”. What would it mean for me to “joy” you?

With regard to peace, we can express a state of being in the three words “I am peace-ful”. But what about a transitive verb “to peace someone”, meaning to spread or extend peace? As of now I can “fight” “attack” “assault” “combat” or “assail” you, but I have no verb to affect you with “peace”. The media use battle words constantly: to fight terror, fear, poverty, injustice, extradition, apathy, disease …

(Who said “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist persists”? Ah, that was Eckhart Tolle.)

If we use war-like words we are liable to see life as a battle.

What would it be like to have an active sense of “peacing” the people you spend time with?

If we are missing the language does it matter?

Does it matter that we don’t have words for things we might want to say? Yes, I believe it does, because language shapes the way we think just as much as the way we think shapes language.* If we haven’t got the words for it we are unable to think it.

So what about going about your business in the next couple of weeks and having fun with made-up words: use love in the intransitive – to love, be love-ful, and joy and peace in the transitive – to joy and peace each other.

Love-ful, I joy and peace you all!

* (If you are interested in the concept of language shaping our thought have a look at Lera Boroditsky’s article, “How does our language shape the way we think?” at http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/boroditsky09/boroditsky09_index.html)

E-zine Articles – a wealth of interesting short articles can be found at www.ezinearticles.com – you might like to type in “Judy Apps” for a few of mine!