Teaching the Armless to Juggle
One of the tips I offer therapists and clinicians on my Brass Bollocks workshop is that in order to get more clients, some of them may need to reduce and lower their claims for success. The main issue is that many so clients simply won’t and don’t believe the claims that are made, even if the claims are in fact accurate. Let me give you an example. I am well aware that flashbacks and related problems associated with post-traumatic stress disorder may well be cleared up in a single session, sometimes with just a few minutes of work. So imagine the claim, “PTSD symptoms cleared in under 5 minutes or your money back!”
This might well impress other people trained in NLP and suchlike who understand the possibilities, but to a person who has been tormented over a prolonged period of time by the torture of intrusive imagery, anxiety, fear and nightmares, such a claim not only may seem incredulous, but also may well be quite insulting.
“I’ve suffered for 20 years and this idiot reckons he can change all that in less than 5 minutes?”
Here’s my axiom: claims of success may well insult the suffering of the affected.
The other thing that happens is often a person with such problems has seen such claims before, numerous times, and may well have invested in all sorts of panaceas, treatments and remedies, all to no avail.
Another problem occurs with “charge by the change” – an admirable ethic that is common to a certain persuasion of NLPer, where the client doesn’t pay if the client doesn’t get any change. I tried this for a time many years ago and still offer this occasionally when it comes to simple phobia treatment.
When used as an advertising gimmick, the reason this can put clients off is that to a person who is suffering the pains of emotional and psychological hurt, “change” is often the last thing on their mind.
“Relief” is often more paramount; an easing of the hurt; a reduction in symptoms; a panacea to reduce suffering. The person may seek care, understanding, empathy and professional expertise with “change” being the last thing on their mind. “How can I be expected to change when I feel as bad as I do?”
Something I like to ask therapists on my training courses is this: how do we measure change? Is it possible for a person to be sat in front of us at the end of the session reporting that they feel just as bad as they did when they arrived, yet we can measure verifiable change?
Conversely, is it possible to have a smiling client sat in front of us, reporting that they feel infinitely better, but in fact, no useful change has occurred?
My experience is that too many therapists spend too much time measuring change simply by asking the client how they feel. This is not enough. But anyway, that’s for a different day. Back to those extravagant claims.
A call I had recently went like this.
Caller: “Do you have any experience with aphenphosmphobia?”
I was flummoxed. “What?” I squeaked.
“Aphenphosmphobia. Do you have any experience with this?”
“No idea,” I said, “Never heard of it!”
“Well, I am looking for an expert.” the caller told me, “Don’t you know what it is?” the caller continued after pausing for effect.
I know well the game of “I know something you don’t know” and when people try this on me I never ask. Ever.
“I can’t even say it, let alone define it,” I told the caller.
“Oh.” The caller said.
“Ever feel like you might have called the wrong person?” I offered.
“Do you think you can help me?” The caller asked.
“I doubt it,” I said. “All I can ever tell people is that there are no guarantees and that I can only try my best. But you need to know this – there are some people that I cannot help. Usually, the ones that make my heart sink when I listen to how they tell me about their problems.”
The client booked in to see me there and then.
Now I know that most therapists and clinicians won’t and don’t talk in this way, they are too worried about appearing “professional” and like they are experts. I gave both those up a long time ago. I was lucky enough to have screwed up enough times to learn a few lessons in humility.
I often have a big sign at the front of the training room: “Humility will save you from humiliation.”
Many overzealous NLPers would do well to remember this. So would the people who use this quote as their own since they attended my trainings.
Another common problem with those working in personal development is that they are also so damned optimistic. It is worth knowing that many of those outside of the personal development industry is not quite so positively orientated and can be readily intimidated by all that smug optimism.
Here are two examples that I encounter almost weekly from NLPers. I run a workshop entitled, “Weight Loss – A Neurolinguistic Perspective.”
Every sodding week some idiot emails me or calls me to offer me advice.
The advice goes something like this:
“Hi, I’m an NLP master and I wanted to tell you about your workshop title, I think you might find it works better if you didn’t call it “weight loss” – that is a negative you know. I prefer to call my workshops, ‘positive slimming’, it sounds so much better.”
My reply is always the same these days, as I can no longer be bothered to explain. “I don’t care,” I tell them.
I don’t bother explaining normally. But anyway, for the record, here’s why I don’t care. That workshop title has enabled me to travel all over the world, the workshops require minimal advertising and ever since I stopped calling it “positive slimming” several years ago, the workshops are always full. I have an edited online version available of the workshop which is my biggest selling product which continues to gain positive reviews and acclaim. Really. Buy it here.
The issue here is that it seems to me that only NLPers worry about the positivity frame, “Weight loss” sounds too negative to them because it violates some NLP principle, but to the general public, naive to such nonsense, it is perfectly plausible and familiar. I have given up reminding NLPers of that other injunctive of NLP, “meeting the client at their model of the world.” This seems to have been forgotten in the quest to be the most positive person of the pack.
The other product that seems to cause difficulty for so many NLPers is my, “Depression – A Neurolinguistic Perspective.” I am often being told that putting the word, “depression” onto a product with a black depressing cover will put people off. “Who would want to buy that!?!?” someone scoffed recently.
Well, depressives would buy it for a start, and rather a lot of them too. (It is now available free on the above link. Why? Because I’m a nice guy and more importantly I want your email so I can sell you stuff.)
Someone even suggested I should call it, “Lessons in Happiness” or something equally positive.
Needless to say, this wannabe “happiness coach” has never seen a paying client in his life and each month slides ever further into debt.
Depression isn’t necessarily about an absence of happiness. Claiming to teach depressives how to be happy is not all that different to offering lessons to the armless on how to juggle.
So, in summary, here is my tip to get more clients.
Make fewer claims and stop being so damned optimistic about your clients before you have even met them.
Try it. It will change your life for the better, bring you riches beyond the dreams of avarice and make you a better lover. It will. Really, I guarantee it.