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Archive for the ‘Influence & Persuasion’ Category

The Drama of Scottish Independence…

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

 

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So….Scottish Independence…Don’t you just love it eh? The two words guaranteed to initiate an argument no matter where you go in the UK. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the house! Just log into Facebook and join one of the many heated cyber space debates. Nothing gets the blood pumping faster than having an internet argument with a complete and utter stranger over your computer screen.

 

Never in my life have I known such drama in Scotland, never have I seen us being pushed so much into the limelight. The whole thing has certainly captured the imagination of not just Scotland and the UK but further afield throughout the globe. What the heck is going to happen? It’s all too close to call really…One thing’s for sure, both sides are most certainly going to some unbelievable lengths to convince you to vote their way.

 

Now…Just to be clear, this is not a post asking ‘Which side you are voting for?’ and it’s not a passionate plea to try and get you to vote the way I’m going to vote.

 

What it is about is an observation regarding one of the basic psychological principles that’s being used very cleverly by both sides to influence and manipulate your vote and how you can de-sensitize yourself a little from it and make a clearer decision.

 

On one side we have ‘operation impending apocalypse’ (otherwise known as ‘the Better together’ campaign). If we vote ‘Yes’ then obviously the largest swarm of plague infested locusts ever to be known in the history of human kind will instantly descend upon Scotland and attack you and your family. All the businesses will leave, the country will instantly go into recession and we’ll experience apocalyptic doom all before breakfast of the 19th of September.

 

I’m exaggerating obviously but the picture painted by the Better together campaign is ridiculously bleak. It’s designed pure and simple with a couple of aims in mind – To shatter the confidence you have in your own country’s ability to manage and scare the utter and absolute beejeezus out of you.

 

The Labour leader in Scotland even went as far as to say that Scottish people are to quote “not genetically programmed to make political decisions” (and she is Scottish by the way). I’m guessing that was a bit of an unfortunate slip of the tongue but it certainly shows you how far the BT campaign are willing to go to create the idea that apocalypse and evolutionary death of the Scots clearly awaits following a ‘Yes’ vote.

 

Sure there are some facts and figures thrown in for good measure and a bit of emphasis on the alleged extra powers we’ll get but their campaign has largely been all about creating the idea of massive potential future pain…All, of course, avoidable if you vote ‘No’.

 

On the other side we have ‘operation utopia’ (otherwise known as the ‘Yes’ campaign). If we are to completely believe Alex Salmond then, by voting ‘Yes’, we are well on our way to becoming some kind of cash rich, independent super power. All of Europe…no, all of the world! will bow down to our superiority, foreign countries will look on in envy at our massive cash reserves created through Oil and Gas and pretty soon we’ll become like the Nordic banking equivalent of Switzerland. We’ll live in a fairer society where we look after the sick and the elderly while at the same time dropping corporation tax and attracting the world’s most successful businesses.

 

All of this will also happen seamlessly, with no teething problems what so ever and without any kind of ‘bedding in’ period. Utopia awaits…For us, our children and our children’s children. All of this, of course, can be instantly acquired simply by voting ‘Yes’.

 

If the ‘BT’ campaign’s preferred method of influence is fear and potential pain then the ‘Yes’ campaign’s is more about potential pleasure. They have done everything they can to build a positive vision of how they imagine it might be. Sure, they have thrown a bit of potential pain in the mix as well by mentioning ‘Trident’, Tory governments and the alleged potential privatisation of the NHS but their main method of persuasion has been more about creating the idea of potential future pleasure.

 

Like the BT campaign though their vision  isn’t entirely realistic. It’s based on future predictions, elements of truth with a massive dollop of artistic license thrown in for good measure.

 

What we end up with is essentially a battle between two massively exaggerated visions – One of potential locust eaten pain and another of potential utopian pleasure.

 

On one hand we’ll have people who will vote ‘No’ because they believe the vision of impending doom (or at least bits of it) and want to move away from this potential pain and on the other hand we’ll have people who vote ‘Yes’ because they are inspired by and identify with the positive vision of pleasure and want to move towards it.

 

It’s obviously not as simple as this for everyone. Lots of people will vote ‘No’ because they feel a strong positive affinity with the union, lots of people will vote ‘Yes’ because they don’t like the Tories, many people will sit down and examine the cold facts and make as rational a decision as they possibly can and there will be many other variations in between. These things obviously have many complexities but at the heart of the methods used by of each side to influence you are the basic principles of pain and pleasure.

 

The bizarre thing is, most likely neither of the two visions are true. The truth most likely exists somewhere in between the two. I’m under no illusions that we’ll become some kind of cash rich, independent super power with low taxes but I do believe we have a lot going for us as a country and have the potential to make things better and more in-line with our cultural ideals.

 

I don’t believe for a minute many of the scenarios painted by the ‘BT’ campaign will come to fruition but I do think that, if we become independent, there WILL be big teething problems. It will most likely take quite a few years to make significant improvement and progress and there will be problems and troubles on the way.

 

No-one can predict the future but usually things fall somewhere between the two dramatic extremes. Which one it will eventually sit closer to, I guess is the real question we want to be asking ourselves.

 

So I’d suggest, if you want to de-sensitize yourself a little from the potential plague infested locusts and the mesmerizing vision of blissful utopia and make a clearer decision, then step away from the two dramatic extremes. Take a deep breath, let go of all the intense drama for a moment and make an assessment based on as much information as you can find.

 

You can still listen to your heart (in fact it’ll probably be impossible not to) but I do think this is a decision to be made with both the head and the heart and not just one or the other. Most of us know what our heart feels and the two campaigns are certainly doing their best to manipulate this but we also need to step away from the drama for a while to figure out what our head thinks.

 

When we blend both ‘head’ and ‘heart’ together that’s when we start to make decisions that are both rational and ones that fit with our personality and experience. By doing this we increase our chances of making a much more informed decision that also feels right.

 

It’s a tough one that’s for sure, but it’s important, and one that could potentially send ripples through the world.

 

All the best with it…I’ll see you on the other side!

 

All the best

 

Steve

 

Have you ever been bitten by a wolf?

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

 

I finally got round to watching Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf on Wall Street’ the other week. I loved the film and thought Dicaprio was amazing as the conniving stockbroker Jordan Belford but I couldn’t stop myself from feeling more than slightly unsettled by the story. It wasn’t so much the glorification of debauchery, drink and drug taking it’s been criticised for that bothered me it was more the devastating demonstration of how unethical influence can negatively impact on people’s lives.

 

There are certainly lots of people using their power, status and skills to do amazing things and contribute positively to people’s lives but there are also plenty of wolf’s out there looking to get as much as they can from you with little sense of morals or empathy.

 

I think the film acts as a very entertaining warning to those frantically chasing wealth and ‘the good life’ and as a lesson to those easily persuaded by charlatans and shysters. I do think you have to allow yourself to be influenced in life but I also think holding a healthy amount of scepticism is always a good thing.

 

So just how do you recognise a Wolf? How can you tell that someone is out to manipulate you without much care for your well being?

 

Well, it can certainly be tricky. Chances are they’ve been a wolf for a long time so they’ve became highly skilled at covering their tracks.

 

There are a few telling signs though. Here are some I’ve noticed over the years:

 

 

Excessive use of status…

I don’t think we realise or like to admit how much a person’s ‘status’ can silently but powerfully influence us. The higher your status the greater the level of default influence you will naturally possess before you even say a word.

 

It doesn’t mean you’ll have influence over everyone, some people are naturally suspicious of those with high status but, in general, your words will mean more than someone who is perceived to be of lower value and status. Every social, work and business group has its own ‘ladder of hierarchy’ and those at the top possess the most default power and with that power comes responsibility.

 

I think it’s perfectly okay to use the power of your position if your intention is to genuinely add value to people’s lives and you do have some substance behind the spin but if you find that someone frequently ‘milks’ their status then it could be time to take a reality check.

 

Ask yourself – If this was Joe Bloggs off the street and they were saying the same thing would it be good advice? When you strip away their status what’s left? Is there any substance or is what they’re saying mostly spin and smokescreens?

 

It’s amazing what status can make us believe and do so it’s well worth taking a glimpse of the situation as if it wasn’t there.

 

 

Blatant dishonest attempts to elevate their status…

 

If a wolf is using status to create the illusion of power and influence they may also employ the tactic of making blatant dishonest attempts to elevate their status in the eyes of their peers. Again, I don’t think there is anything wrong with elevating your status but to do it with less than honourable intentions and blatant dishonesty is inexcusable and a likely sign you’re in the presence of a wolf.

 

If, for example, someone updated their Facebook status saying they had ‘Just landed in New York and about to meet Richard Branson for Coffee’ when in actual fact they’re doing a work out in a gym in Glasgow this would be a blatant dishonest attempt to elevate their status to gain more power over their peers.

 

I’m exaggerating a bit with the post but it’s not far from the truth! :-) There are many more subtle examples of attempting to elevate status dishonestly and I think it’s only good sense to be even more wary than you normally would of those in ‘apparently’ high profile positions.

 

Are they really that successful or is it mostly smoke and mirrors and they actually live in a council flat? (I don’t think there’s anything wrong with living in a council flat btw but it’s a bit suspicious if you do while giving off the image of being rich, famous and successful)

 

If status is the means a wolf uses to increase their illusionary power over people so as to achieve their intentions then there’s a good chance they’ll employ dishonest tricks to try and elevate it. Be wary and always question their claims with healthy scepticism.

 

 

Continually painting False Blue skies…

 

We all occasionally make promises we don’t deliver. In an idea world it’s good to always over deliver but sometimes people make bad calls or external factors get in the road. That’s part of life but if someone is frequently painting exciting blue skies that don’t materialize then it’s time to sit up and take notice.

 

One particular wolfish tactic is to offer a huge carrot (something the person would love to have happen), get something in reciprocation only for the big carrot to then not materialize due to apparently ‘unavoidable circumstances’.

 

This is also called a ‘bait and switch’. Perhaps you’ll get something out of it but it’ll be nowhere near as useful and big as what they got from you. You might even convince yourself afterwards that you hadn’t been swindled but the truth is you’ve just been bitten by the wolf.

 

 

Believing people to be a means to an end…

 

In truth this can often be the case. We all use each other to a certain extent and most relationships are ones of a reciprocal nature to a certain degree. The wolf takes this further to the point where people are really just a means to an end with ‘the end’ usually being their gain.

 

If you find that someone has a distinct lack of empathy and pleasure for human contact that doesn’t involve personal gain then it’s worth taking note. Do they like you for who you are? Or just what they can get from you? If it’s the later then you could be in the presence of a wolf.

 

This Wolfy intention can often be hidden in the early stages.  There’s a good chance they’ll be charming and interested when there is the potential for something to be gained from you but once they have it, they’ll usually lose interest very quickly.

 

 

Positioning themselves as the opposite of what they could be criticized for…

 

Out with fuelling their own selfish needs, one of the prime concerns for a wolf is being detected. If their less than honourable intentions become noticed then the game is up…or at least the game is up until they find someone else to play.

 

One of the classic ways a wolf avoids detection is to position themselves as the opposite of what they could be criticised for. If, for example, they are worried people may suspect that their integrity is in question they might go on about how important ‘honesty’ is to them. By assumption the unsuspecting sheep is a lot more likely to accept that the wolf is also honest because they value honesty in others.

 

By the way, in case you’re wondering...Jordan Belford, one of the most widely publicised dishonest stockbrokers and unethical influencers is now a motivational speaker selling……..wait for it……an ETHICAL PERSUASION PROGRAMME!

 

I don’t know about you but that simply blows my mind.

 

To protect yourself don’t always assume that what someone values in other people is necessarily what they themselves value. They could be just doing it to trick you. Also don’t assume that because you value something (eg like honesty) that everyone else also values it. You’ll be playing right into the wolf’s hands.

 

So above all, I would say allow yourself to be influenced but do question things with a healthy scepticism. Being a cynic is of very little use but there is a lot of value in screening people to make sure their intentions are honest and positive. There are lots of great things out there but every now and again you will encounter a wolf…Hopefully you’ll now be ready for them :-)

 

All the best

 

Steve

 

 

Being Congruent — Lance Armstrong

Monday, January 21st, 2013

 

Just finished watching the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah.end_g_lance-armstrong_mb_576

 

I’m really curious what people thought of it and the full ‘Lance coming out’ thing.

 

Personally, at the same time as feeling really sorry for the people Lance trampled on over the years to cover up his lie, I couldn’t help but get some kind of strange pleasure watching it.

 

I found it totally mesmerizing and fascinating how someone could keep hold of a lie for so long (and actually sue those who said anything to the contrary).

 

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that level of self deception on such a public scale before.

 

They showed footage of a previous interview where he spoke out against doping and he was SCARILY convincing…It was amazing the extent he managed to believe his own lies.

 

What I didn’t find as convincing was his apology on Oprah.

 

In NLP we have something called ‘congruence’. Congruence is basically when our body language, voice tone and intention match the content of what we are saying.

 

Incongruence is where we say something that mis-matches what we feel on the inside and it becomes obvious through our non-verbals and ways of expressing.

 

The only time I saw any real congruence in his interview was when he either talked about how it had affected his kids or when he occasionally let slip that he believed he had to dope because ‘everyone else was doing it.’

 

For me, the apology for doping and the decade of deceit was a pretty blatant example of someone ‘just saying something because they think it’s what they are supposed to say’.

 

Personally, I don’t think he really meant it.

 

It was a bit like a kid being made to apologise for stealing his sisters toys. He doesn’t really mean it and he’s only doing it to get some supper and stay up a bit later.

 

I don’t know how much later Lance will be able to stay up but the whole episode has been disturbingly engaging…

Steve

 

I’m a Guru, worship me – The Power of status

Friday, December 21st, 2012

 

I don’t want to boast but did I ever mention that I own a helicopter, drive a Ferrari and go for regular tea and cake in St Andrews with Prince William?
I also own a penthouse in the west end of Edinburgh, run a multi-million pound company and regularly advise Alex Salmond on important political policies…

 

Of course none of those things are true. In fact, even if they were and I was quite blunt in telling you about them, you’d probably think I was just boasting. You may even feel slightly repelled by it.

 

What if they were true though? And, rather than me declaring it, you subtly found out through the course of a normal conversation? How impressed would you be? Would you secretly admire me…be a bit in awe? Would my words have more meaning to them than normal and would I have an over-exaggerated amount of influence over you?

 
Say I then offered you advice in something that had absolutely nothing to do with my area of success and expertise. Would you be more likely to take this advice on board than you would from someone perceived to be lower down in the social ladder?

 

If I asked you to then do something you wouldn’t normally do would you feel a bit pressured into doing it?

 
Or would you manage to distance yourself from the sparkle of my status and coldly assess the situation in a purely pragmatic and logical fashion?

 

Status is tremendously powerful. It can get you to do things you didn’t think you would ever do…It can get you to believe things that aren’t necessarily true and influence you to behave in ways you wouldn’t normally behave.

 

There’s a wonderful book that I keep coming back to time and time again called Influence – The science of persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
The book outlines what Cialdini calls ‘The 6 weapons of influence’ – the six main social dynamics that mould and shape our thoughts, feelings and behaviours on a day to day basis. It doesn’t matter what you do, where you do it or with whom, you will be influence by these 6 dynamics in some shape or form.

One of the more powerful of these is the dynamic of authority.

 

In pretty much every culture the people who are deemed ‘authority figures’ (eg teachers, Doctors, political & spiritual leaders, experts in their field and celebrities) will have considerably more power and influence than the average Joe off the street. Think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (when he was alive obviously)…If they were to give a talk on ‘innovation’ or ‘how to be successful’ their words would have much more power and meaning than if you or I were to deliver the same talk. They could even stumble and stutter their way through and a most of the audience would still hang off their every word believing them to be the secret of life, the universe and everything.

 

They get massive credibility by default because of everything they are that they don’t have to say. They get credibility and influence because of their status.

 

Interestingly enough, the power they have from being ‘an authority figure’ wouldn’t necessarily disappear if they start talking about something completely unrelated to their line of work…like for example ‘Family relationships’ or ‘Health’. They’re not known necessarily for their success in those areas but, because of their social status, their words would generally still have far more influence than the average person on the street.

 

My friend summed it up beautifully recently when she was visited by the CEO of the company she worked for. She said ‘When the CEO gives you advice, you listen…when he asks you to do something, you do it

 

Even though we live in a time where the boundaries that separate traditional social classes are blurred we have our own imaginary class system and it plays a huge part in how much power and influence we attribute to a person’s message. At a pre-conscious and often conscious level we are constantly making judgements of the people we meet and assigning levels of value to them that we believe they possess. It may sound a bit harsh but it happens and we all do it in some shape or form.
Then based on the value we assign we place them on some kind of imaginary ladder of social hierarchy. The ones near the top of the ladder generally have the greatest amount of social influence over us and the ones down the bottom the least. Specifically how this works is obviously down to the individual and what one person decides is valuable can be different from the next person.

 

Unfortunately this is where the power of status can be abused. When we are in the presence of one of these authority figure, we can become vulnerable. A story comes to mind about a time my Mum went to the Doctor after breaking her wrist for the second time in 6 months. With her age there was the obvious concern of osteoporosis so she was swiftly sent for Calcium tests and referred to a specialist. Unfortunately before any of that was done the Doctor made what he thought was a throw away comment. He said “Well I guess because you’re getting close to 60 that means you have ‘old bones’ and… I’m sorry to say it’s just going to get worse from here on in”.

 

I’m sure he thought he was just preparing my Mum for the worst but in actual fact he gave her a very powerful suggestion from a position of authority that affected her deeply for months.
He maybe didn’t realise the power he had as an authority figure but, none the less, it was a pretty reckless thing to say.

 

There are two types of abuse when it comes to status and authority and the first is plain ignorance. Many authority figures simply don’t realise the power and influence each individual word and phrase they utter can have and end up hurting people without even realising it.

 

The second type is a little bit more disturbing. It’s where someone knows fine well the power their status gives them yet they still use it to manipulate in ways that fulfil their own selfish means with general disregard of the other person. They use it as a means of control, to increase their power over you. They use it to dazzle and disorientate so as to satisfy their own needs without really caring too much if the other person or people get what they want. They can often believe so much in their own hype that they become disconnected with what the other person or people are feeling. After all, it’s a privilege just being in their presence right?

 

There’s a book called Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (author of fight club) where the last survivor of a Creedish Death cult is catapulted to fame and success as a Guru spiritual leader. He appears on TV shows, blesses the masses and offers solutions to everyday problems. Behind the scenes though he is a fake…bank rolled by a multi million pound organisation who are just using the guru image to sell mediocre, mass produced products and seminars. The amazing thing is the masses (who worship the very ground he stands on) believe the products and seminars to be works of genius. They must be…after all he is endorsing them!

 

The reality though, when you examine things in the cold light of day, is that the whole thing is just a cheap cash in on a utopian ideal and he’s every bit of a smoke screen as the Wizard of Oz.

 

This is a dramatic example but it does illustrate the power status can hold. Like I say it can make you believe things that aren’t necessarily true and make you think you’re getting a lot more than you actually are.

 

Now I’m not saying don’t use status. The power that comes from authority and status can be a good thing. Because you have more power it does allow you to help people more. Your words have more impact, more meaning so you can use them to do some amazing things…to really help transform people. You do have to be very careful though and make sure your intentions are positive. Just realise that the power isn’t actually yours even though it feels like it. It’s all created by the individual’s perception.

 

It’s like at the start of Lord of the Rings when Bilbo Baggins fights continually with the power of the ring. The ring has the power to give him practically anything and, in the beginning, he uses it to show off…to play tricks and do magic shows. Then he eventually realizes he’s just using the power to fuel his own ego. That it can actually be used to create peace and harmony across the land so he does the honourable thing and hands over the ring to his nephew Freudo.

 

The temptation is always there with status to abuse it. Be careful and use it wisely. It’s also okay to be impressed and influenced by status and a person’s profile. (in fact for most it will be nearly impossible not to be)

 

Speaking from experience I’d just be extremely wary. As a rule I’d spend more time investigating the reality behind someone’s claims who has a high profile and high status than I would of someone with a lower one. I’d certainly be a lot more inquisitive of their true intentions. Can they really deliver what they say they can or is it all just smoke and mirrors?
One of the things I love about NLP is how you can use it to mystify…to do things that people don’t think are possible. The fast phobia cure is a great example of this. To most people the notion of overcoming a phobia in under an hour (most times a lot faster) is completely outwith the scope of what they believe. It utterly mystifies them and this can have a mesmerizing effect.

 

While I love doing things that mystify and they’re great for convincing people how powerful NLP is, I think it’s equally important to de-mystify…to de-construct. To show people that the miraculous change has a structure and can be performed by anyone.

 

To de-mystify is to enlighten. It wakes people up from their social slumber. It de-hypnotizes them from their social and personal constraints they think are placed on them and gives them the power to change.

 

Someone who mystifies and makes no attempt to break it down into something other people can do is not really teaching they are mesmerizing. They are installing the belief that they have the power and not the people they are teaching. Be wary, be very careful. When you go see a magic show it can be very impressive to see the woman sawn in half but it’s not real…it’s an entertaining illusion we buy into for fun.

Status can create a similar illusion. It’s sometimes nice to buy into but it does put you in a less empowered position.

Status and the power it brings can be the ultimate aphrodisiac and I don’t mean that just in a sexual way. It’s true in most social, personal and work situations, especially at the beginning of the relationship. This strange social hypnosis will cloud your judgement. It will make you think you’re getting things you’re not. It will create an over-exaggerated sense of feeling like you need them more than they need you.

If their intentions are positive and they can deliver what they say they can then great! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going with it…it’ll make everything they say and do more powerful so you’re in for a great ride. If you find their intentions are less than honest though and they know how to use their power to manipulate then personally I’d recommend turn and walk away. You might think you can handle the situation but the balance of power is not in your favour. The odds are stacked massively against you.

 

If you’re the one who is rising through the ranks of social hierarchy and you’re starting to feel the power and influence this naturally brings then I urge you to keep your integrity. By all means use your power and influence…You can do a lot of good with it but be aware the temptation to abuse it will always be there.

 

I read once that there’s a distinct difference between a hero and a champion. A hero does things for the benefit of society as well as themselves. They constantly balance their own needs with that of those around them and their intentions for doing what they do are to enrich, expand and create more personal freedom for people. For the greater good so to speak. A champion is mostly about ego. They do what they do to fuel their sense of self importance, to expand their trophy cabinet so they can boast, show off and increase the amount of control, dominance and power they have. It can seem attractive but there are huge pitfalls.

 

Just in case you’re wondering by the way, in the end of the book ‘Survivor’ by Chuck Palahniuk the Guru actually commits suicide. He realises he’s a fake…an empty shell of a man and that he’s designed his whole life from the outside in rather than the inside out. Consequently the masses who followed him lose faith and become hopelessly confused and lost. Simply because they mistakenly believed that all the power was with the guru rather than with them.

 

 

Take Care

Steven Burns

Scottish Centre of NLP

 

Are you an overweight Fitness Coach teaching Zumba who can’t dance?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

 

There’s a terrific book written by Daniel Goleman that you may have heard of called Emotional Intelligence – why it can matter more than IQ. In his book he argues that our emotions play a far greater role in thought, decision making and individual success than is commonly acknowledged.

 
Daniel tells of a powerful experience he had whilst travelling on a bus up Madison Avenue. As he stepped onto the bus he was startled by the driver, a middle-aged black man with an enthusiastic smile, who welcomed him with a friendly, “Hi! How you doing?”

 
As he walked further down the bus he noticed that the driver welcomed each of the passengers with a similar enthusiastic greeting. The passengers appeared to be just as startled as Daniel but, as they were so locked into the morose of the day, didn’t return the greeting.

 
As the bus began its journey up Madison Avenue a slow, magical transformation started to happen. The driver started to give a running monologue for the passenger’s benefit…A lively and entertaining commentary on the passing scene around them. His enthusiasm and delight for the cities attractions started to become infectious. By the time the people got off the bus they had shaken off their solemn demeanour and when the driver shouted “So long, have a great day!” they all, one by one, gave him an enthusiastic, smiling response.
You see the driver knew a thing or two about influence. He knew that if you want to influence someone you have to go out of your way to make them feel good.

He knew that if you want people to change and transform it’s no good just telling them…you have to make an impact on the way they feel. Above all though, he knew that this process starts with yourself.

If you want someone to go somewhere you have to go there first.

 

If you want someone to experience happiness, you’re going to struggle if most days you can’t even raise a smile…If you want someone to get off their but and do something it’s going to be pretty difficult if there’s no energy or enthusiasm about you. At the end of the day no-one wants to hire a depressed happiness coach…

 

No one wants an overweight fitness instructor who teaches Zumba and can’t dance.

 
You don’t have to be perfect but you do have to possess a certain amount of the thing you want to influence.

 
When I was 18 I went on an outward bound course in the North of Scotland and we were ‘encouraged’ to get up at 05:30 in the morning and go for a run and a dip in a nearby river before breakfast. Apparently (or so they said) this was one of the most refreshing and invigorating ways to start the day. The fact it was the middle of November and the temperature was a lovely comfortable 2 degrees though, meant that most of us weren’t exactly convinced.

 
The one thing our instructor didn’t do though was come out in the same emotional place as us.

 
He came striding out looking as if he was ready to climb Mount Everest! You could literally see the enthusiasm and motivation emanating from him.
Now I’ve got to be honest and say that, at first, I found this a bit irritating. Then, bit by bit, his enthusiasm began to wear off on me until eventually I was finding it very difficult to protest.
He knew that if you want someone to go somewhere you have to go there first.

 
A more dramatic example of this happened during the Vietnam War. An American platoon was situated down in some rice paddies in the heat of a fire fight with the Vietcong when, All of a sudden, a line of six monks started walking in between the gun fire. They didn’t look right or left towards either of the soldiers they just walked calmly and peacefully across the battle field. One of the American soldiers recalled the incident as “incredibly strange, because nobody shot at them. And after they walked past suddenly all the fight was out of me. It didn’t feel like I wanted to do this any more, at least not that day. It must have been that way for everyone, because everybody quit. We just stopped fighting”

 
The monks ability to be able to pacify the soldiers in the heat of the battle is probably one of the more dramatic and courageous examples of how contagious emotions can be. On a more subtle level, though, emotional exchange occurs in practically every conversation we engage.

 
Think for a moment about a person in your life that generally has a happy, upbeat, positive attitude. How do you feel when you’re with that person? Do they lift your mood? Do you like being around them?

 
Now think of someone who complains constantly about life…Someone who bitches, moans and constantly brings people down. How do you feel around them? Do they affect you negatively?

 
The real question though is this – Which part do you play in this emotional exchange? Are you the emotional vampire that sucks the life out of people or are you a shining ray of light that makes others feel good in a way that they can’t quite explain?

 
What are you projecting? How are you influencing without even realising it?.

 

It’s true that if you want someone to go somewhere you have to go there first but it’s also true that you are always ‘somewhere’ and that ‘somewhere’ doesn’t just stay in you…it affects the people around you…it changes how they feel, how they think. It’s a big responsibility I know but it’s yours whether you like it or not…you have it by default.

 


Like I say, you don’t have to be perfect…not by a long shot. Just don’t be an overweight fitness coach teaching Zumba who can’t dance…

 

 

All the best

Steve