Pocketblog is going back to basics. This is part of an extended course in management skills.
Are you a ‘rush-rush-got-to-get-things-done’ sort of a manager, or are you a ‘take my time; want to get things right’ type? Or are you nicely balanced. Doctors Mike Friedman and Ray Rosenman identified these two styles as, respectively, Type A and Type B personalities. When I tell you they were cardiac specialists, you might start to worry. There is no need. Take the test and then I’ll explain.
For each of these nine statements, score yourself 0 to 10 according to how close you lie to the first statement (a low score) or to the second statement (a high score).
Casual and relaxed 0 … 10 Often feel on edge
Slow and deliberate 0 … 10 Always rushing
Dislike deadlines 0 … 10 Love working to deadlines
Patient 0 … 10 Impatient
Express your feelings 0 … 10 Suppress your feelings
One thing at a time 0 … 10 Lots of things at once
Ready in advance 0 … 10 Just in time
Plan and prepare 0 … 10 Just do it
Enjoy relaxing 0 … 10 Feel guilty when relaxing
Friedman and Rosenman predicted that strong Type A personalities would be prone to heart disease and die young. They were wrong. Many of their patients did have a cluster of personality traits that they characterised as Type A, but only a few of them were truly predictive of illness – and not the ones relating to rushing about.
However, both Type A and Type B personalities each have their own challenges in operating in an organisation. Let’s look at some.
Dealing with other People
Inevitably, we deal best with people who are like us. We find them easy to understand and their habits agreeable. Type As readily get impatient with Type Bs. They want the B to hurry up and despair that the B has no sense of urgency about things. Type Bs find Type As’ hurry annoying; they would rather the A would slow down and do things properly and are concerned about quality standards.
Dealing with Admin
Type Bs will take on the organising and admin tasks as another thing to do carefully and well. Type As – unless they really value it – will rush through it, wanting to move quickly onto ‘proper work’. They will then get angry when they can’t find what they need or get what they want.
Dealing with Interruptions
Type Bs may not welcome an interruption – especially when they are engrossed in something – but when they accept it has happened, they will turn their whole attention to you. This is great for the interrupter and can lead to positive outcomes. But when the interrupter has a non-critical issue, Type Bs can lose valuable time on the work they were doing. Not so Type A’s. The interruption may be unwelcome or a welcome distraction when they are starting to feel bored, but the Type A will soon be tapping their foot, keen to get on.
Type A personalities get masses done; often just in time and at breakneck pace. Quality can suffer, especially when they try to multi-task, but it is Type As who are at the heart of the (perfectly true) cliché: ‘if you want it done; ask a busy person.’ Type Bs focus on one thing at a time and do it well. They plan well and execute effectively, as long as they don’t get held up by an interruption or by finding a problem and working deliberately to solve it.
Exercise: Balance is Everything
The most successful people inevitably balance both personality types. Look at your weak points and note them down. What strategies can you use to neutralise them?
It’s January the First. Happy New Year. And wouldn’t it be great if you could make this year your best year ever?
Well this is the mission of one of the biggest names in today’s self-help industry, Michael Hyatt. His ‘Your Best Year Ever’ online program has been running for a number of years now. And last year, he published it as an ordinary book. No more are we reliant on a high-priced wait-listed program. For a few pounds or dollars, you can read his guidance and follow his plan.
2019 promises to be a difficult year, globally. So, let’s find out how you can have your best year ever.
Every few years we seem to get a new aspect of psychology that is ‘more important to success than intelligence’. In the 1990s it was Emotional Intelligence. In the Twenty-teens, it’s Grit.
So what can we learn from a woman whose father told her that she was no genius? Well, when that woman has a string of academic, commercial, and social successes to her credit by her early 40s, perhaps we should listen to her.
There is one idea that can increase your effectiveness exponentially. And that’s not a boast: it’s mathematically precise. It’s the concept of marginal gains.
Sometimes a big idea seems new, because lots of people are talking about it. But in fact, this one is a very old idea. Everyone is talking about marginal gains because this old idea has had one more recent and stunning demonstration.
What makes the idea of Marginal Gains so interesting to us, is the way it ties together a number of other big ideas.
Why do you get up every morning? Is it out of a sense of obligation, duty, or even compulsion? Or is it ikigai?
In Japanese culture, ikigai is a reason for getting up in the morning. it is the meaning to your life and your reason for being. It is your ‘raison d’être’, but in a more profound sense than English speakers commonly use that French phrase.
Ikigai is a big idea for English speakers, because we don’t have our own word, but the concept is important.
How do you become an expert at something, and truly master it? The answer, some will tell you, is with 10,000 hours of practice.
The so-called rule of 10,000 hours originated in a best-selling book, ‘Outliers’, by journalist, Malcolm Gladwell. He based the ideas at the core of his book on research that Anders Ericsson carried out, along with Ralf Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Römer.
Then, he was a Professor at the University of Colorado. Now he’s at Florida State University. But here is the thing… Ericsson has been openly critical of the 10,000 hours formulation. And that offers both good news and bad for any of us who want to become world-class masters of any field.
In understanding how we think, one big idea has dominated in recent years. It became widely known through Daniel Kahneman‘s phenomenal best-seller, ‘Thinking, fast and slow‘. It’s the idea that we process information in two ways. There are two parallel thinking systems in our minds: System 1 and System 2.
There are many terms for these two systems. They have been called:
associative and rule-based
implicit and explicit
intuitive and analytical
experiential and rational
and many more
The terms System 1 and System 2 are marvellously neutral. They first emerged in a paper by Keith Stanovich and Richard West. But it’s Kahneman’s adoption of this language and the popularity of his book that gave them fame.
John Grinder and Richard Bandler are credited as the co-founders of NLP. This is a basket of behavioural, therapeutic, and influencing techniques that comes in and out of fashion in the organisational world.
However, in the self-help world, its ups and downs are less pronounced – it has continually received accolades and steadily grown its influence.
So here then is the central dilemma of NLP for managers and professionals: how important is it? And therefore, how seriously do we need to take Bandler, Grinder, and their ideas of NLP?
John Grinder was born in 1940, and studied psychology at the University of San Francisco. After graduating with a BA, he joined the US Army as a Captain in a special forces unit. He then joined a US intelligence agency, before studying for a PhD in linguistics at The University of California, San Diego.
Grinder completed his PhD in 1971, and after a short time in George Miller’s lab at Rockefeller University, he joined UC Santa Cruz as an Assistant Professor in Linguistics. His research interest was the then very new and fashionable transformational grammar pioneered by Noam Chomsky.
In 1972, a psychology student called Richard Bandler came knocking, looking for help with a research project in which he was transcribing hours of Gestalt Therapy sessions. Bandler wanted help in analysing Fritz Perls’ language.
This was the start of a collaboration that led to the founding of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The story of their collaboration, and of the other people involved – it was far from a two-person endeavour – is well documented elsewhere. So too is the acrimonious breakdown of their working relationship, and the court actions over ownership of the NLP name and ‘brand’.
The upshot of this, by the way, is the court’s decision that NLP is a generic term and no one can own it. This meant that, after the split, Grinder could continue to develop his own new ideas, which he came to call ‘New Code’ NLP in contrast to the earlier work he did with Bandler, which he refers to as ‘Old Code’.
Grinder has authored many books with Bandler and others, and continues to teach NLP, through his own business (Quantum Leap) with his wife, and for other NLP schools.
Richard Bandler was born in 1950. His first few years were spent in New Jersey, before moving to California. He studied Philosophy and Psychology at US Santa Cruz, where he graduated in 1973.
There, Bandler met John Grinder and other early collaborators in developing what became NLP.
Bandler and Grinder became close colleagues studying and teaching the communication patterns of a number of therapists, like Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erikson. They gathered a number of other interested researchers and teachers around them.
Inevitably, as what they were teaching became more popular – and therefore more commercial – tensions arose. Like Grinder, Bandler formed his own business and continued to teach and develop new ideas. He too still teaches NLP, along with hypnotherapy, around the world.
Bandler and Grinder were co-authors of a number of the seminal books in the emerging subject of NLP. None are aimed at ‘lay’ readers. They are written for aspiring and experienced practitioners and, even having studied NLP and received Practitioner and Master Practitioner certificates, I find them barely readable.
There are many more modern books aimed at introducing NLP to interested readers. Browse your favourite book site and take your pick.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming: NLP
So, what is NLP? It stands for Neuro-linguistic Programming (yeah, I know), and it is fundamentally an assorted bag of methods and models designed to help understand communication and behaviours and elicit behavioural change.
At the root – and this is something Grinder constantly emphasises – is the idea of modelling. Whatever you want to be able to do, find an example of someone who does it to a level of excellence. Document everything they do, say, and think when they are doing it. Then try out being exactly like they are. Start to strip away elements, to find out what parts make no difference and which parts, when lost, become significant.
You’ll end up with a core of beliefs, behaviours, and communication patterns that materially affect your outcomes. Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erikson were the first people extensively studied in that way.
From them, Bandler and Grinder extracted two of the biggest and most influential models within the NLP corpus: The Meta Model (from Satir and Perls) and The Milton Model (from Erikson).
The Meta Model
The Meta Model documents language patterns that allow the therapist, coach, salesperson (choose your role) to spot patterns of thinking in the other person. A long list of linguistic patters betray distorted perceptions, generalisations, and subconscious deletions of possibly relevant information. By challenging these, coaches and therapists can open up new possibilities to the person they are helping, and salespeople can breakdown objections to buying.
Bandler and Grinder’s primary books that originally documented this were The Structure of Magic, volumes 1 and 2.
The Milton Model
Milton Erikson was a masterful user of hypnosis in his therapy. Indeed, his style is sometimes called Eriksonian Hypnosis. Once again, Bandler and Grinder documented his language patterns. They found a similarity to the meta model, but that Erikson was being deliberately vague, to elicit gaps in thinking, through which he could insert therapeutic suggestions. The Milton model can help move a listener into a more receptive state. Again, this is useful to therapists, coaches and salespeople.
Bandler and Grinder’s primary books that originally documented this were Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. volumes 1 and 2.
Evaluation of NLP
NLP is like Marmite: it evokes love and hate reactions in broadly equal measure. And its popularity goes through peaks and troughs – big ones for business, smaller troughs for the self-help industry. It is currently a multi-million dollar industry world-wide.
Three factors are perhaps responsible for the extreme views:
NLP is presented with a lot of complex and intimidating jargon. Indeed, the name Neuro Linguistic Programming suggests a level of mind-control which can intimidate or seduce. Some wonder if the jargon is merely designed to create a quasi-academic glamour the discipline does not deserve.
Some practitioners make extravagant claims for what NLP can achieve. Everything from magical sales efficacy to curing phobias, to curing serious mental and physical illnesses.
There is a limited research base. A lot of the evidence for the efficacy of NLP techniques is anecdotal, and many serous academic therapists have offered detailed critiques.
On the other hand, there are also three good reasons to learn more about NLP:
Many people find that much of it really does work. The ideas are taken from observations of effective behaviour. You can apply the modelling process to find out how to replicate the results of your best performers
NLP is respectful of our potential. It encourages personal responsibility and asserts that we can all access the resources we need to make the changes we want
The criticism that much of NLP is ‘just common sense’ can also be seen as a strength. By codifying common sense, we make it more accessible.
You can find much in NLP that is of value to you; and much that is not. If you are prepared to be selective and evaluate each tool on its merits, NLP is a powerful resource.
Here’s a video I did for another business that will echo much of what’s here.