You Go First
Without mentioning any names I’m going to tell you of a real life situation I found myself in recently.
I am a member of an association that has a pretty wide and varied membership. There are people there of all stripes and, as with probably a majority of associations, members are expected to get along nicely with each other.
However, this is not always so easy. There are political differences, religious differences, age differences, and many sorts of situations that could easily provoke passions to be voiced and divisions deepened. It’s like if you took the average Thanksgiving Dinner when drunk Uncle Frank could say something stupid at any moment and multiply that by a factor of ten.
I know, from past experience, which of the attendees often play that part of the drunk uncle. So I do what I’ve recommended to hundreds of Sleight of Mouth (SOM) students over the years, I practice. I go over in my mind what sort of comments might be made and what I could say as a response. How would I use the Sleight of Mouth patterns to put the rascal in his or her place?
At first I ran through a number of scenarios in my mind where I shredded the opposition with the “Meta Frame” pattern or an “Apply to Self” pattern. I imagined aligning with their intent using the “Intention” pattern and then showing their incongruence with that intention using the “Changing Frame Size” pattern. I ran though a bunch of possibilities before I had a bit of a revelation… I thought to myself – what would be the outcome of decimating these guys like that? As satisfying as it might be to do it, what would the long term effect be on the whole of the association, not to mention to that individual? Would it foster understanding and good communication or just the opposite?
Changing your OWN beliefs prior to working on theirs
Really, what I was doing was using some Sleight of Mouth patterns on myself. I’d used the “consequence pattern” on myself to see that there would be less-than-great consequences of this approach and wondered – what other avenue might I take? Could it be that using HUMOR might be a better approach?
The Sleight of Mouth I was using on myself was challenging my earlier operative belief which was, basically, “If he says ‘X’ then I’ll tear him down with SOM.” Now my operative belief was, “If he says ‘X’ then I’ll humorously deframe the situation with SOM.”
So I again ran through the Sleight of Mouth imagined scenarios, but this time my underlying question was “how can I use this with humor and love?”
Who are you BEING?
It goes to the heart of a major coaching question I often ask coaching clients of mine – “Who are you BEING in that situation?” Who could you be instead? What identity would be better alternative?”
So instead of being the ruthless crusader, I could be the enlightened clown, or the humorous peacemaker. (Or something like that.)
So what belief is behind the way you’re using these tools? Remember, that’s all they are, is tools. They can used well or poorly. For good or for evil.