Coaching Skills: Storytelling to Teach a Technique

Knowing how to use a story to demonstrate a particular technique is one of many good coaching skills to learn.

Have you experienced the challenge of trying to convince a client of the value of learning NLP and basic psychology to solve their problems?  As an NLP practitioner with many coaching skills, I have had my share of this problem. It can be tough to work with someone who so desperately wants better health, relationships, and financial results yet are indifferent to learning a new skill to solve their problem.

It is clear, a client wants results. As a coach, it’s my job to guide them in the right direction as well as give them a compelling enough reason to take the initiative to understand basic NLP and psychology concepts that will give them the results they are seeking.

The question is, how do you get them to buy into these new concepts?

Of my many coaching skills, I’ve found much success teaching by using stories and analogies. The best teachers in the history of our world were master storytellers. There is no doubt the use of stories and analogies will elevate your coaching skills and your ability to connect better with your client.

NLP meta models are an example of techniques that are helped by the use of storytelling. The Meta Model can help someone move out of extreme psychological pain into a state of control. Even though learning meta models can be very beneficial, a client may not quite grasp the concept of vague and specific language patterns and need the assistance of a story. So, for this technique, storytelling and analogies are incredibly useful coaching skills to use.

Here’s an example using the NLP meta model in a story to help a client looking to lose weight:

I don’t know you too well yet, but I know you’re interested in losing weight. I can also guarantee you’re familiar with the NLP meta model, which might help you achieve your goal. How do I know? Because you’ve been around people who unconsciously use it all the time, probably for your entire life.

Have you ever had a friend that was vague about everything? Did that annoy you? You know, I’m with you. My brother is always so vague about what’s going on in his life. He’ll call just to tell me about what his next door neighbor said or something he did that upset him. I used to pry, but I’ve learned better.

If I ask what upset him, his response was, “He’s just a jerk.”

It was funny, because once I began applying NLP into my life, I realized that his perspective on his neighbor was actually worse than I thought. In this state, he’s stuck. There’s no making this situation better, because his only option was to believe that the neighbor is a jerk, and that it’s out of his control.

Maybe an unfriendly neighbor isn’t the most painful scenario, but imagine if this were true in other areas of his life. What if being too vague about his intentions to start going to the gym or grow his business was the reason he’d been stuck for so long? That seems like quite a shame for something that can be easily fixed.

So one day, against my better judgment, I asked my brother, “How, specifically, is your neighbor a jerk?” He replied, “Oh, you know. He just is.”

I said, “No, I don’t know. Did he do something to you that made him a jerk? Does he consistently say or act a certain way?”

“Well, he never cuts his grass. How am I supposed to have a nice looking home if he never takes care of his lawn?” my brother said.

“Have you ever mentioned to him that this bothers you?” I asked.

“No, I haven’t. He wouldn’t get it if I did!” he said.

Now, my brother is stubborn sometimes. The meta model can be powerful, but only if you’re willing to use the new information you receive. But I’m wondering, did you notice the magic that took place during our conversation?

Much of our pain comes from feeling that we are out of control of our circumstances. Whether it’s a neighbor’s un-mowed lawn or our perceived inability to lose weight. We don’t realize we are actually in control of how we choose to feel.

In my brother’s case, this immovable object in his way was his neighbor. He had vaguely labeled him a jerk because of his lack of yard maintenance. This had eaten away at my brother for years, yet he never did a single thing that might have helped resolve the situation, such as if he’d simply gone over there and respectfully made it known that he’d appreciate a regularly cut lawn?  The problem might have been solved had he mentioned this to his neighbor. Then he could move out of this animosity filled state.

The NLP meta model helps make vague language more specific, which gives you more options to help you break through a stuck state.

Anyway, now you see how the meta model works. Our pain or feelings of inadequacy are sometimes simply the result of not giving ourselves enough options. The more specific you get, the more options you create for yourself. And, the more control you are able to take of the situation.

So let me ask, does anything come to mind in relation to your goal? What things might you be saying, or not saying, that are preventing you from reaching your goal? How can you be more specific?

As a coach, by asking your clients the right questions, you are able to extract specifics from their vague language to better help them. If you can help them see their vague statements, you will teach them to be more specific with their thoughts so they can feel more in control of their lives. The NLP meta model is a great tool to add to your arsenal of coaching skills.

Read more about learning Neuro-Linguistic Programming or becoming an NLP Practitioner.

Hope Bundrant
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