Martin Messier

December 29, 2023

The hidden levers of the mind

What if the key to breakthroughs in coaching didn't lie in what people think, but in HOW they represent their thoughts?

Often, we focus intensely on the content of our clients' or teammates thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We dissect their stories, analyze their beliefs, and challenge their perspectives. But, what if the levers to breakthroughs lie deeper? What if it's not just about the thought itself, but the very fabric of how these thoughts are structured and represented?

Meta-modalities offer us a unique lens to view and help shape our clients' internal representations.

(This a core concept traditionally known as "sub-modalities" in NLP but later updated by L. Michael Hall and Bobby Bodenhamer in their book "Sub-Modalities Going Meta". It's hairy reading, but absolutely worth the time and effort.)

These fine distinctions in how we see, hear, feel, smell, and taste our thoughts can be the hidden levers that unlock massive shifts in perception and emotional response.

Imagine a client who constantly battles with self-doubt. They might 'see' their failures as looming, vivid images or 'hear' their internal dialogue as a loud, critical voice. By helping them adjust these meta-modalities — dimming the brightness of those images, or softening the tone of that inner voice —suddenly, they begin relating to their goals and desires differently.

As leaders, understanding and utilizing meta-modalities allows us to go beyond surface-level conversation. It empowers us to guide our clients in reshaping their internal landscapes. A slight tweak in the 'zoom', 'brightness', or 'volume' of their thoughts can lead to profound shifts in their emotional world.

Explore this fascinating realm. Start paying closer attention not just what people are thinking, but how they are thinking. Pay attention to the qualities of their internal representations. Experiment with adjusting these meta-modalities using language and observe the powerful impact these adjustments can have.

This approach is about transforming how thoughts are experienced. It's a journey into the architecture of our internal world, and it can be the gateway to breakthroughs in leadership, coaching and sales. The subtlest shifts could lead to the greatest transformations.

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