CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 70, 13th September 2004


  1. Editorial: The structure of conversation
  2. Book review : Excuse me, your life is waiting, Lynn Grabhorn

1.     Editorial: The structure of conversation

Many years ago when I was learning Welsh, we were taught apparently superficial sentences, such as "What is your name?" "My name is....." "Where do you live?" "I come from ....." I thought it was rather on the level of "The cat sat on the mat." and "Voici la plume de ma tante."Richard Winfield - editor and principal consultant

However, some months later I attended a conference for Welsh born and incoming English people like myself. Sitting behind me were a couple having a conversation in Welsh. They were using just the phases and qestions that we had studied. "What is your name?" "Where do you come from?" "What do you do?"

I realised that there is a structure to social conversation. It could go something like this: -

  • Where do you live/work? Isn't this weather terrible!

  • What do you do?

  • What are your particular skills/what are you good at? What is your profession?

  • What do you believe in/what are some of the things that are important to you? (What might we have in common?)

  • What role do you play/Who are you being when you are at work/home?

  • How do you fit into society/how do you contribute/why are you here?

You might not phrase your conversation exactly like this, but I wonder whether you recognise the structure. it starts very safe with the environment, behaviours and skills/competencies. Then, as you build rapport and trust, moves into deeper areas of beliefs and values, identity and purpose. This is the structure of Robert Dilts' neurological levels.

I use this exercise at the start of a workshop. It helps people get to know each other and demonstrates listening skills. I put people into two lines, preferably sitting down with chairs close and knees almost touching. Then I ask the people to think of an incident that is 'safe', probably from their youth. Those on one side then have to describe the environment in which it took place to their partner in the other team. The partners must listen - but not speak. Then the partners swap roles. I then get one team to move along one chair. If there is an odd number of people, the spare person stands at one end and watches the interactions. When the team moves along then the observer is exchanged, so that all are involved.

I then ask the second question. "Please describe what you did, what happened." Repeat the exercise. Ask the third question "What skills or talents did you/each side display in this event?"

After the three questions, I stop the exercise and ask for feedback. "How easy was it to just talk?" "How easy was it to listen without interrupting?" "What body language helped/hindered the exercise?" "What did the observers notice about the activity?" "Did it become easier as you had practice?"

We then return to the exercise with the three final questions: - "What beliefs/assumptions applied in this incident/What were your expectations at the time?" "Who were you being during this incident?" "How did this incident/event support or demonstrate your purpose in life?"

The exercise is introduced as a warm up and listening exercise. Then at the end I ask what they thought of the questions and how easy they were to deal with. Finally, I introduce the neurological levels model or just ask them to register the exercise for later reference.

There is a variation taught to me by Gene Early. Instead of two rows, put people into 'stars' of six. Three people sitting back to back in a circle and then three more facing them. Rotate around the three places and then move onto another star. This creates more energy in the room.


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2.    Book review: Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
Review by Sue Walsh and Carol Newland

When we were first given this work (the CD version) we thought it was just another of the hundreds of self help theories with very sensible messages but nothing new to say – nothing that we did not know already or had heard many times before.

So, as we started listening we did not really pay that much attention. But there was something in the light-hearted, upbeat and somewhat irreverent style that began to engage us. And as we started listening, really listening, we were astonished. Here was something that was simple, powerful – and made absolute sense.

Lynn Grabhorn introduces us to the Law of Attraction – the missing link from many theories of positive thinking – the power of feelings. We shape our lives every day by what we are feeling. So, if we are feeling tired, stressed, fed up with our health, relationships, job, the environment and not having enough time and money to do what we want – that is what we are likely to get. But if we are clear about what we DO want and make that the feeling place we operate from every day – we attract these things to us.

Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting gives us four simple steps to designing the future we really want and making it a reality. Lynn Grabhorn talks from her own experience and offers a wealth of entertaining, real life anecdotes and stories. The book is packed with easy strategies, hints and tips to help you make your own journey.

So, from a sceptical start we now use these principles on a daily basis. It has started to turn our lives around. We have built them into our coaching and designed an innovative programme which is a unique synthesis of five powerful development tools – one of which is the Law of Attraction.

Sue Walsh and Carol Newland are NLP coaches and trainers who have developed a programme called WorkLife Architect – How to design your future.


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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:

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