Many people fail, not for lack of ability, intelligence or courage,
but because they do not organize their energy towards their goals.
How to KNOW what People want?
We created effective formats for labeling relationship and
emotional problems that is useful for assessing goals, emotions and
Our Relationship Diagnosis helps us assess relationship habits,
transferences and fixations, the probable causes of emotional issues and their
consequences. It helps us explore how and why people create and share emotions and relationships.
Our Goal Diagnosis helps us assess emotional problems and personal histories.
Using it, we can better respond appropriately to nonverbal communication.
This provides us with information for predicting
individual, couple, family and team behavior.
WFO not UFO: Goal Diagnosis
WFO means Well-Formed Outcome. Although any
form of coaching or planning ideally starts with 'well formed' goal
statements (outcomes), few people can specify their goals in detail.
Our goal diagnosis recognizes many weird and wonderful goal
statements ... here are a few examples:
- Childish goals (e.g. I want everything, now)
- Abstract goals (e.g. I only want to be happy)
- Wishy-washy goals
(e.g. I want more time off)
- Goals lacking times for completion (no deadlines)
- Conflicts and multiple goals (including double binds)
- Word salad (chaotic grammar and sentence structures)
- Philosophy (e.g. I
should have already achieved goal X)
- Goal statements with negative grammar
(e.g. I don't want a divorce)
- Metaphors (e.g. I feel like I'm lost
in a jungle and I can't find a path out)
- Goals with incongruent signals
(I want X (while shaking the head "No"))
The next step includes
ways to respond appropriately to goals. See Question 1 of our
While we may hope for clear goals, if we ask,
"What do you want?", we don't really expect them.
Goal questions often require decisions, conflict resolution, belief changes and
planning. Nobody wants to appear
stupid, and many people seem scared of asking for too little ...
or too much.
We first tried the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
meta model and found it inadequate for this
task and likely to irritate people. Keith Blanchard's theory of
SMART goals can help you recognize a well-formed outcome, if by some miracle
a person can state a SMART goal without conflicts. The acronym SMART has a few variations for goal setting.
S: specific, significant
M: measurable, meaningful
A: attainable, achievable
R: realistic, relevant, reasonable
T: time-based, timely, tangible
Double Binds & Double Wishes
Double Binds are paradoxical
interpersonal communications - statements that contain internal
contradictions. People who cannot withdraw from the communications may be unable to decide which messages
are true. Children faced with double binds
may develop pathologies. Adults are more likely to respond with irritation.
Double binds may be explicit (e.g. a teacher communicates
to students "I will punish you to improve your education!")
or implicit (e.g. a manager says to an employee "I know that even you
can complete this task!" while curling his upper lip). If the
addressed person cannot recognize and resolve such double binds, especially from
parents and authorities, the results include relationship chaos and limiting
Some goals have a similar structure to double-binds:
for example a goal may have two or more objects and one verb, (Consider,
"I want to be married and happy ..."). If such wishes
are perceived as incompatible, attempts to plan or fulfill a
double-wish will fail.
By Double Wishes I refer to poorly defined
goals that contain internal contradictions. If a person does not believe that a
goal is possible, the person may object to their own goals. They may be disappointed that they cannot fulfill
their own goals, and miss opportunities for success.
When I evaluate goals I notice whether any incongruence indicates a simultaneous conflict or
and whether a person displays signs of conflict.
Although a client may state a physical goal - the underlying goals are often at a values
or identity levels, e.g. "What is important
to me?" or "What sort of person am I?"
Many people avoid inner conflict by making
abstract goals (e.g. "I want to be happy") ... I often say that an
abstract goal is, 'the skin of a goal stuffed with conflict".
A client may want two
or more conflicting goals. A well-formed outcome becomes possible
if a goal can incorporate the values of all
sides or parts of the conflict. Often, an internal change of reference
is needed to reject unwanted influences. (We often find that such influences are relationship bonds.)
People trained in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) may be tempted to
use a visual squash. This seems to
be an unhealthy choice. This
technique uses hypnotic language to double bind the issues
in conflict. The consequences of a visual squash
often includes the re-emergence of the conflict within three
months, or the re-manifestation of the unsolved conflict as
unpleasant emotions and/or psychosomatic symptoms.
Sequential conflicts can be fascinating ... and irritating. Some people never
seem to make up their minds, and if they do make decisions, they may either
participate half-heartedly - or for a short time.
I check the time between polarity changes of a sequential conflict ... for me, the cycle length is useful information for anticipating a
person's change of heart. If I can plan for it ... I can plan my response.
We often help people resolve deep conflicts ... see
Transcript: Complex Conflict.
NLP & Conflict Resolution
I (Martyn) attended a number of NLP trainer trainings: with
Marilyn Atkinson's Erickson Institute, with Tad James'
Advanced Neurodynamics, with Wyatt Woodsmall's Advanced
Behavioral Modeling and with Steve and Connirae Andreas'
NLP Comprehensive. The most common technique taught for
dissolving conflicts was a hypnotic integration of two visualized
parts ... often called Visual Squash.
The NLP technique visual squash is often used to attempt to resolve internal conflict. A person is encouraged
to evaluate two parts (also called ego-states, complexes,
partial personalities or entities) which communicate
simultaneously or sequentially about a proposed goal.
If more than two parts involved in a conflict, we call it a complex
conflict. We noticed that the NLP visual squash used with
a complex conflict may lead to withdrawal, unpleasant emotions and psychosomatic
symptoms. A sequential conflict swings between goals, and may indicate a
conflict of values or identity, which seem to have three, five or seven
parts with two or three levels of abstraction. We find that about 20% of
both Americans and Europeans (assessed on our private sessions and public trainings)
present this complex pattern of sequential incongruence.
If a person identifying with one polarity is amnesic of
decisions or actions made when identifying with the other polarity - this may
indicate multiple personality syndrome (dissociative identity disorder) and we refer such people to clinicians. More commonly, a person identifying with
one polarity may remember but deny decisions or break promises that were
made while that person was identified with the other polarity.
A client's presenting issue may be an inability to make decisions, in which
multiple goals are incompatible with each other. (See: Eating Disorders)
While coaching people after a NLP visual squash, we observed that
many people re-created their conflicts within a few weeks, when the squashed
conflicting motivations erupted as conflicting obsessions.
Also, some people consequently seem to suffer physical symptoms or emotional
problems that sabotage them from attaining their incongruent goals.
We found better ways. See NLP Ecology Redefined
and NLP Strategy Techniques
Whenever you choose a goal or solution,
you also choose the
consequences of that goal or solution.
Online Coaching, Relationship Counseling & Systemic Therapy
Although I qualified as a NLP trainer many times, I stepped
out of NLP when I realized that I could not fulfill the claims made by NLP trainers
using the material taught during NLP trainings. I have since researched and developed
much that I lacked then, particularly goalwork, relationship ecology,
systemic diagnosis and relationship counseling, and I abandoned techniques that
can hurt people and/or damage their relationships. Martyn Carruthers
I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers
All rights reserved.