The year is 370 BC in the kingdom of Macedon, a young prince by the name of Aléxandros ho Mégas is on a journey of learning. Under the tutelage of Aristotle, he decides to travel and discover what the world holds beyond the continent that he is in. Alex with the blessing of Hermes embarks on his first maiden voyage out on the Aegean Sea.
As he stands on the upper deck of his ship, the vision of what he sees in the ocean is limitless. The excitement of being able to explore magnificent landscapes and exotic worlds inhabited with strange people fires up in his belly. The thirst to seek out the secrets of true wisdom keeps him pacing the deck, impatient for the adventure of his life. However, nature has other ideas. In the far distance, a storm is slowly blowing and without any warning, the wind grew massively and the waves hit Alex’s ship. With no other option but to believe that the choice to connect with the world is what drives him, he perseveres to face this challenge. Alex clings dearly for his life on the edge of the ship as the waves continue to create chaos with his ship and the wind rages on.
Like Alex, our clients come into their session with many challenges they are experiencing and all that is keeping them sane is a desire to have a specific outcome, i.e. to be free from what they are shackled to. Our job as coaches and therapists is to assist them in breaking through the shackles that are holding them back. We know we have made some headway when we are able to connect with the client. How successful are we in connecting with the client is when we have achieved PORT – Perception, Observation, Rapport, and Trust.
The barbershop was crowded, so the woman at the cash register offered to put my name on the waiting list.
“What is your name?” she asked. “Stephen, with a P-H,” I said.
Minutes later, a chair was available, and my name was called: “Pheven?”
Perceptions as stated in the Oxford dictionary: “an idea, a belief, or an image you have as a result of how you see or understand something.”
Everyone’s perception is different. At times, we think we are not communicating but in reality, we actually are. Words have no absolute meaning. In the research done by Mehrabians, out of 100% of communication use, only 7% are words. The remaining 38% is tonality and 55% is physiology. The same statement spoken in a different tonality will create a totally different meaning. By taking the time to be aware of what you are articulating and listening in a neutral position, you will realise the client begin to feel more connected to you.
“If everyone could learn that what is right for me does not make it right for anyone else, the world would be a much happier place.” – Dr William Glasser.
First, we look at understanding that each and every one of us is unique and in our minds, we hold a different Quality World picture. Dr Glasser described the Quality World as a “personal picture album” of all the people, things, ideas, and ideals that we have discovered and increases the quality of our lives.
For an example, a young mother’s Quality World picture revolves around her child while a young female executive focus on climbing the corporate ladder. And if the young mother preaches to the young executive to look into settling down, the young executive will not appreciate it. Neither would the young mother be happy if the young female executive comments that the young mother has no direction in life. By understanding that our Quality World picture is different from other people, we can then look into accepting each other Quality World picture.
In many parts of the world, the king of fruit, durian is relatively unknown. Some who have tasted it find it the most amazing fruit, while others find it noxious and a horrible abomination. As the saying goes “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. The video below shows how a Hollywood actress loves durian and is willing to smuggle it to Los Angeles, while the host does not seem to appreciate it at all.
“I love durian. The first bite you have to be a little brave. It’s like the blue cheese of fruit right? It has kind of a stinky taste, but once you take the first bite, the second bite’s amazing.”
Jessica Chastain (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
These are but some examples of what makes each one of us different. It is because our own Quality World picture in our mind is different that may one way or the other limits us from making a connection with the client. To begin accepting the other for who they are and not what you want them to be, brings the connection closer. All that is required is simply respecting the other person’s model of the world.
Observation versus interpretation
As coaches and therapist, we have the tendency to read our clients based on our perception of how the situation is presented to us. Nevertheless, by taking the time to listen objectively to what the client says, we are then in a better position to help the client. So what is the difference between observation and interpretation?
Let’s take a look at the below image.
A group of people is gossiping about the lady and she is very disturbed.
A group of people is smiling away and chatting together. The lady in the front looks like she is in deep thought.
It is only when the more we observe and gather more information; we can then map out a better intervention for the client to achieve the outcome they desire. Sometimes, the way the client’s interpretations and observation as well as the language that the client uses, gives us clues to define the client’s situation.
“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?” – Shannon L. Alder
Creating connectedness leads to trust
Building rapport, or having empathy, is done to achieve better communication and responsiveness. Neuro Linguistics Programme (NLP) teaches a rapport building technique – “matching” / “mirroring” the body language, posture, breathing, predicates and voice tonality. Rapport is all about ‘pacing’ or tuning into the client. Once pacing is established, we can then ‘lead’ by changing our behaviour so that the other person unconsciously follows. Bearing in mind that 93% of communication is done non-verbally. We will have a better gauge of how much rapport we have built as we continue to pace and lead in the conversation.
Joseph O’Connor’s book, “Introducing NLP – Psychological skills for understanding and influencing people”, describes rapport as a ‘harmonious dance’, an extension of natural skills. People like people who are like themselves and when we are in sync with one another, communication becomes effortless, connection is created.
Below are pictures of Obama and Trudeau in rapport. The first picture where Obama crossed his legs while Trudeau crossed his ankles is an example of cross over mirroring. The second picture is an example of exact matching.
“The outer world is a reflection of the inner world. Other people’s perception of you is a reflection of them; your response to them is an awareness of you.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
I have learnt that by first matching the client’s breathing pattern and their physiology. I am able to make a connection with the client quickly and the client becomes more comfortable. This helps the session tremendously as the trust starts to build when the client becomes comfortable and we can then dig deeper into the root of the problem.
Using no control and using humour will build a relationship and make a dent to where the client puts the counsellor in their quality world and then begins to relate and seek out the counsellor. Effective therapy begins with the acceptance of the therapist into the client’s quality world. – Dr. William Glasser
Humour plays a major part in my sessions. I realise that at times, ‘breaking state’ helps the client to loosen up and connect with me. The mind can only hold one specific state at one time. When a person is happy, he cannot be sad. When a person is anxious, he cannot be calm. So, when the client is in an unresourceful state, I would tell them a humorous story or a witty comment to lead them out of their unresourceful state to a neutral or a resourceful state. At the end of the day, it is all about bridging the communication with the client, creating the trust and moving the client forward to a specific outcome.
A recap, we started with perception, looking at how we perceive things. By accepting that each one of us has a different Quality World picture, we are placed in an effective position of helping the client. Next by observation and gaining more information rather than jumping into conclusion, we can better understand the client’s situation. The art of rapport building come from matching and mirroring for people like people who are like themselves. Finally, as we integrate humour in the session, the client loosens up his apprehension. The connection and trust are built and the client is willing to work with you to resolve their issue.
As Alex clings dearly to his life, the waves attacked this ship with no mercy. Deep within his heart, he knows that this is a lesson he must go through in order to reach the outcome he so desired – to travel new lands and seek out true wisdom. He is determined to live as he struggles with the wind and waves. All seem hopeless as the storm rages, but then a golden trident surface slowly from the sea and Poseidon stand majestically in the middle of the storm. With his trident, he calms the sea and with the other hand, he lifts the ship and Alex and placed them by the port of Andros. As the ship reaches the PORT and connects with the land, Alex knows that his journey is worth it.
Just like the port that links the ship to land, the PORT of communication bridges us with our clients. I believe this simple acronym of (PORT) Perception Observation Rapport Trust is useful and is something that we can practise to be better coaches and therapists. All the best in your journey and thank you for continuing the efforts to help those in need in your own unique way.
- Choice Theory ~ The psychology of personal freedom. ~ Dr William Glasser
- Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People ~ Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nathanael Seers Ong is the founder of DASETi. He speaks and teaches internationally and is featured in local magazines such as SHAPES, Simply Her Singapore and radio talk show on 93.8, A Slice of Life. As a Choice Theory Reality Therapy certified practitioner registered with the William Glasser Institute (WGI), Nathanael believes that choices people make are the key to understand human relationships. He facilitates programmes for WGI and advocates Choice Theory psychology globally. Nathanael is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist with the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis and a certified instructor with the National Guild of hypnotist. He will certify anyone who desires to pursue a career as a Hypnotherapist.
He is also a certified Hypnocoach, having trained with the originator of Hypnocoaching – Lisa Halpin. His other areas of expertise are Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Time Line Therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Dream Therapy, personality profiling tools and Huna, the Hawaiian art of healing. His core area of work is in one to one coaching and therapy, utilising many different modalities that include energies and mind work to help his clients embrace change in their lives and resolves their issues.