Coaching and NLP each reveal a simple purpose: to help individuals live more content and more satisfying lives. Nevertheless, they are rarely presented together, which I find peculiar. In my opinion NLP is really the solution that makes coaching so effective and that’s why NLP for coaches is such a vital skill set. I use NLP in my coaching practice. For information about coaching session click here.
Why NLP for coaches?
NLP takes the expertise of the great coach and smashes it down so it may be learnt by any person. NLP for coaches is all about using the implicit technique of coaching and rendering it specific and clear. In support of this understanding, I find that the majority of the greatest coaches I encounter have also learnt NLP.
The two disciplines are appropriately ‘made for each other’. In this article I will show both why this is actually the case and how, in a realistic way combining the two, NLP for coaches can use their skills and produce something much more highly effective than either would be independently.
NLP for coaches – NLP and coaching history
I’ll start with very brief histories of the two disciplines. So, here is a very short history of coaching
In the 1970s, in California, a tennis coach who had previously been influenced by new thinking off the 60s era attempted to use a new permissive strategy to his work. He basically allowed students to ‘have a go’ themselves and didn’t restrict them with excessive ‘teaching’. The benefits were so impressive, that a TV documentary was made about him. This documentary attempted to mock his techniques, by getting him to teach an obese woman without any tennis experience. Yet she learnt very fast indeed. The coach, Tim Gallwey, wrote The Inner Game of Tennis and a number of other books in the ‘Inner Game’ series. The principle was transferred into business by a British student of his, John Whitmore, who wrote Coaching for Performance.
In the meantime, new developments in both therapy and business were happening. In the 1960s a therapist called Carl Rogers began to challenge the medical approach of Freud and formulated what he referred to as ‘client centred therapy’. The theory behind this approach was to address the client as an equal and hold them in what he referred to as ‘unconditional positive regard’.
In the 1950s and 60s as the discipline of business grew to become more professionalised, and business schools and MBA programmes began to spread throughout the world, organisational models now began to mushroom. Peter Drucker, a professor at NYU, was viewed as the founding father of a new profession: the business philosopher.
These new ways to approach sports, therapy and business, the Inner Game of sports, the Rogerian therapeutic relationship, and a more organised solution to career success, all blended to create a new discipline known as ‘coaching’.
Nowadays there are over 120,000 coaches working throughout the world and a number of coach certification bodies, the most well known of which is the International Coaching Federation. The combined skills of NLP for coaches can be seen in these new waves of coaches. Indeed such approaches, both formally and informally is now an element of many of the world’s biggest organisations such as HSBC, Glaxo SmithKlein and the BBC.
Life coaching, in addition, has turned into a huge growth area. It is a central tenet of this that the coach ‘coaches the client’s entire life’. This means that coaching is not simply a business resource, but a holistic method of personal development in personal and even spiritual life. Our interest is NLP for coaches, when these two frameworks are combined.
A very short history of NLP
NLP is short for Neuro-Linguistic Programming: NLP studies the mind, and how it programmes itself (and can be re-programmed) using spoken language, but also the languages of physical feelings, gestures etc.)
In the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1972, Richard Bandler, a mathematics student, and John Grinder, a linguistics professor, informally researched the work of Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy, and family therapist Virginia Satir. The two therapists professed to go by very different approaches, yet actually appeared to do exactly the same thing within the client sessions themselves, challenging limiting beliefs of their clients with very similar questions.
Bandler and Grinder examined the language patterns of these questions, and developed a model allowing non-therapists to use these questions.
NLP has mushroomed consequently, with a range of individuals adding ideas and approaches, the majority of these for self improvement, though NLP has also very successfully transitioned into the business community. This success has been without the assistance of a unifying professional body. The founders could not agree on what kind of organisation this should be. NLP has grown organically into an international psychological field without any apparent boundaries. The benefit of this approach has been a vast movement of creative thinking. Though the disadvantage is an absence of a commonly agreed approach to a teaching syllabus, conventional practice and certification.
NLP for coaches and the presuppositions of NLP
NLP for coaches will use NLP and coaching. One of the things common to the majority of schools of NLP is that they discuss a set of ‘presuppositions’, or beliefs about individuals and change. The three that follow are just a few examples and there are many more. These I mention since they are very connected to coaching, and provide a superb place to start for exploring the two disciplines in depth and seeing what they can add to one another.
- Individuals have all the resources they require.
Numerous NLP techniques are about relocating ‘resources’ (= beneficial things: more specifically, in coaching, helpful states of mind) from one context to another. An example of this might be if a person is fearful of selling but is very at ease and charming in a social scenario. They have the resources (charm and ease) required for selling, they simply need to be able to mobilise them in the sales scenario. NLP will help them do this.
- There is absolutely no such thing as failure, just feedback.
NLP was affected by early computer programmers who taught themselves games such as chess, and so learnt very efficiently this way. This mindset towards studying and transformation is ideal for people too. It is significantly, much better than the alternative, where anything going wrong can result in a person labelling themselves as ‘a failure’.
- All actions possess a positive intention.
Self-defeating behaviours may appear to have no ‘positive intention’ at all. Nevertheless isolating the behaviour from its real cause can have profoundly beneficial implications. NLP believes that human behaviour always begins from a positive place. That even though behaviour may sometimes be self-defeating currently, the original intention behind it once had a positive goal. SO, therefore, unless that initial positive objective can be satisfied in an alternative way, the person will not be able to stop the self-defeating behaviour. A simple illustration is perhaps yelling at people. This is indeed an undesirable behaviour. However if that person grew accustomed to shout as a child and found it back then a good way of asserting boundaries, then unless that individual can find a new way to assert boundaries, the yelling behaviour will continue.
- A map (of reality) is not the actual territory.
This presupposition may sound totally obvious, but there is an important reality behind it. People frequently have very fixed opinions of what is ‘reality’, but actually they mean their interpretation of reality. These kinds of views can conflict at times with terrible results. Indeed numerous wars between different religious groups are examples. NLP is interested in how individuals form these maps, about how we can create our own maps so they are more adaptable. NLP looks also at how we can communicate with people who have different maps, and concerning how we can help people who seem to be victims of their own rigid maps.
NLP for coaches and the benefits for clients
I hope the above has provided a great sense of the character and mindset of NLP to any one new to the discipline, and has been a good reminder to NLP-savvy readers. So, what does NLP bring to coaching? Why is NLP for coaches, now such an important fusion? The bottom line answer is that the coach encounters a number of concerns that NLP resolves well.
Coaching has been referred to as a dance, directed by the client. However there is not enough material in coaching training on the fundamental aspects of this kind of dancing. How exactly do you pick up the lead from the client? Methods of rapport, particularly in the more sophisticated styles, lie at the heart of NLP, and provide clear guidance on this topic. And if, on occasions, the coach needs to lead the client, how is this done in the right spirit? NLP has the answers.
A primary skill of coaching is to acquire an understanding of the client’s ‘ inner world’. NLP offers a method of accomplishing this, without imposing complicated and contentious ‘big’ psychological concepts. Rather it provides the coach comprehensive tools for viewing and for making helpful and often powerful deductions from those findings.
When coach and client see the need for change, NLP gives a huge range of resources to accomplish this. Unfortunately, serious change in human beings is not just brought on by a realisation of the need for it. Individuals almost always need some type of method to bring that about. NLP has created, tested and improved a huge number of such methods to cover almost any conceivable coaching requirement. The presuppositions include beliefs that are very helpful for the coach.
NLP for coaches and coaching tools
Coaching, in return, gives much for the NLP practitioner eager to use his or her skills in a professional framework. NLP for coaches is therefore a useful combination to use in many contexts.
Coaching supplies a clear framework for the change process, such as the form of the sessions, the contract between client and coach, timings, settings and even fees.
It puts the client at the heart of this process. This is where the client belongs, but regrettably NLP is occasionally carried out in a different mindset, where the client has things done to them by a charismatic and at times aggressive person. Such fixes are inevitably short-term, since lasting change comes from within and motivated and assisted from outside) rather than is enforced from outside. The coaching structure ensures the client remains in charge.
NLP for coaches brings professionalism
It provides professionalism. Coach training and certification is a demanding process, and as such gives protection for clients and a professional code for coaches.
Beyond professionalism, coaching gives an ethical framework. Part of the enjoyment of NLP lies in its decentralised, ‘let a hundred flowers bloom’ approach. Yet the catch to this is a lack of an overarching commitment of what constitutes ethical practice. Coaching delivers such an agreement.
NLP for coaches – final thoughts
Would you like to raise your game in life skills on your personal development journey? NLP could be for you. For more information about my coaching using NLP click here now. It’s where NLP for coaches and coaching challenges grows into its own way of self development.
You’ll come away with insights and tools you can apply both at work and in the rest of your life.