Notice what you notice in the line above below the image and also notice how do you perceive and interpret the image and what meaning do you derive from it?
In NLP, the skill to construct metaphors is the key which separates a good NLP Practitioner from a mediocre one.
To enhance your NLP skills I will provide a simple structure and components for you to construct such metaphors and at the same time let me narrate a children’s tale of learning.
As an NLP Coach / Consultant, this situation appears with a familiar regularity where clients come with feelings of self-doubt which result in them not taking action and doing what is essential for their progress and end up making half-hearted or no attempts.
This is the story of the three little pigs and a big bad wolf which you can hear once more as a child you may have listened to a number of times before.
Using an analogy is a powerful way to start constructing your metaphor. An analogy is a literary device which connects an unfamiliar or uncomfortable idea / situation with something familiar.
A long time ago there were three little pigs. As they grew up a little, there came a time when they would have to go out into the world and seek their fortunes.
Here the client is not very comfortable with the idea of taking a decision or action due to some of their own limiting beliefs, thus connecting it to a familiar story creates an opening within the client’s thinking space.
At the time of leaving home, their mother told them, “Do whatever you do and when you do, do the best that you can do because that’s the way the world is and when the need arose, do seek the advice of someone wise.”
The entire narrative is an allegory and particularly at this junction, it is important because as a coach you are pacing the client’s model of the world and utilising the reality of the client who is with you seeking guidance.
An allegory is yet another literary device which involves characters and situations which represent an idea at a different level of abstraction.
The first little pig built his house out of straw because wanted to things the easy way. The second little pig built his house out of sticks because that is all that he believed was his best and this was stronger than a straw house. The third little pig with some advice from a wise owl, built his house out of bricks.
Another literary device that can be very effectively used is an isomorphism. Taken from the Greek words isos- meaning same / equal and -morphe meaning form / shape, using isomorphism you as a coach present the metaphor in form & structure similar to that of the client’s issue.
One night a big bad wolf, who so loved to feed on fat little piggies, came along and saw the first little pig in his house of straw.
He said, “Let me in, let me in, little pig or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”
“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”, said the little pig.
The big bad wolf huffed and he puffed and blew the house in.
And yes, the big bad wolf ate the first little pig.
Imagery is another literary device that can be very effectively used in constructing metaphors and this in the form of using sensory-based language to represent objects, actions and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses.
The big bad wolf then came to the house of sticks.
“Let me in, let me in little pig or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in.”
“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”, said the second little pig.
The big bad wolf huffed and he puffed and he blew in that house of sticks too.
And yes, the big bad wolf ate the second little pig.
Pacing the client away from the problem state and leading to the desired positive state is a great way to get a breakthrough. For a coach to adapt and present the metaphor spontaneously and go by the gut instinct makes the session all the more meaningful and impactful.
Visualisation, although not a literary device, can be used to firmly plant your client into the space of resolving the present presiding problem state and from there remain in an empowered space from where further action steps are planned.
The wolf then came to the house of bricks.
“Let me in, let me in” cried the wolf, “Or I’ll huff and I’ll puff till I blow your house in”
“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin” said the third little pig.
Well, the wolf huffed and puffed but he could not blow down that brick house.
Being a sly old wolf that he was and not the one to give up so easily, he climbed on to the roof to peep down the chimney for a way into the brick house.
Guiding the client and getting into the awareness to consider and anticipate all possibilities and having them woven into your story is a skillful art and yet maintaining the ecology of the client’s map of reality is an important point to remember for becoming an excellent trainer / coach.
The little pig saw the wolf climb up onto the roof and alit raging flames in the fireplace and placed a large cauldron of water on it.
The wolf slid down the chimney and SPALSSHHED right into the boiling water.
That ended all the troubles for the little pig who had gained wisdom from the wise old owl.
Future pacing ahead of the outcome and looking back a point in future to really establish fruitful resolution for the client ensures that the coach has achieved the outcome for self and the client.
The little pig invited his mother over. And she said “You have been a good little piggy and did just as I told you to do. The way to get along in the world is to do things the best that you can.”
Fortunately for that little pig, he learned that lesson.
And he just lived happily ever after!
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