Are you curious to discover more about a problem? Ever felt like you were the only one in the situation you were in? Felt stuck in rut, frustrated or upset about an event?
Seeing the world through a different set of eyes can help you increase your personal and interpersonal effectiveness and the great thing is we can all do it.
Falling out with a partner or being confused about changes at work are just two examples of the many situations we come across in our lives and if you have ever wondered why some people are able to be more light hearted, or move on faster than others it may just be a case of shedding more light onto the situation to provide greater awareness and answers.
It’s possible to find ourselves stuck in one view of a situation; in NLP we utilise the idea of Perceptual Positions which enables us to step into someone else’s shoes in any situation. Looking at things from a range of angles provides more awareness of the whole situation and that leads to greater knowledge enabling increased flexibility in the way you communicate with others involved and importantly how you communicate the situation to yourself.
Perceptual Positions were inspired by Gregory Bateson’s idea of double descriptions or as the saying goes ‘two heads are better than one’, Fritz Perls gestalt therapy and Virginia Satir’s family therapy. Virginia Satir would hold family therapy parties where clients were asked to ‘stand in the shoes’ of everyone involved in the situation until gaining enough information to deeply understand what was happening.
So let’s play at moving around:
1) First position – Self Perspective: See the world and situation completely though your own eyes. Use it when you want to be clear about what is important to you and do an internal check of your personal values and beliefs. This can be good at times when you need to stand up for yourself. (Do remember to check out the other positions as you will be far more influential understanding other perspectives more).
2) Second position – The Other Perspective: Look at the world through the eyes and viewpoint of someone else. This means taking on their reference to the world, their values, perspectives and physiology. Remember, you are looking at it as if you are them 100%. What are they seeing, hearing and feeling about the situation? What are they saying to themselves? This is great to use when you want to see where someone else is coming from and to gather further information and even predict their strategies and approaches.
3) Third position – The Observer Position: Witnessing the situation as an external observer, see yourself in the picture as if you were someone else and disconnected from the situation emotionally. This position creates balance, so have it as a default in potentially emotional situations. It will help dealing with the most challenging of situations and feedback as you’ll be able to monitor what you are doing as you do it and it can help you manage things in a more logical and rational way.
Remember to get fully involved in each position, dig deep to get the true meanings for each one, take the learnings onboard as this will help increase clarity and behavioural flexibility and importantly move across all positions as this will ensure in you becoming more aware, flexible and in an empowered personal state.
About the author: Caroline Nowell
Caroline is an international learning and development specialist with a passion for knowledge transfer, skills development and the exploration of interpersonal relationships of individuals, teams and organisations.
She is passionate about providing positive and powerful learning and development solutions to individuals and businesses alike.
Caroline has delivered training in over 14 countries worldwide and has headed up training across Europe & N. America for an international business, training and sports company. Additionally providing training to high street companies and Fortune 1000 organisations, language training in the UK and Asia and also working with the MOD, government inspectorates and numerous NHS trusts.
Caroline is a certified NLP trainer, a Master Practitioner in Time Line Therapy and Hypnosis, and a qualified English language teacher, has a degree in Cultural Studies and Communications and holds other recognised training qualifications and institute affiliations.
She is the managing director of Dragonfly Coaching & Development Ltd and strategic business partner with Edge NLP.
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