Improving Relationships with MindSonar

As I’m writing this on the eve of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d take a look at how MindSonar might be useful in the work I do with clients experiencing minor, but constant, conflict in their relationship with their partner. You know the sort of thing – arguments that seem to flare up  from nowhere, over nothing.  I’ve worked with clients who tell me that they and their partner have no major differences in values, political views, religious beliefs, etc. and yet seem to end up bickering daily about minor things. These arguments, although seemingly unimportant, can gradually start to impact upon the relationship, making one or both partners unhappy.  In turn, this can lead to bigger arguments and so set up a destructive cycle.

This sort of conflict is very often due to the meta programmes being used by the individuals.   Common problems that I see are:

  • One or both partners running a Mismatching meta programme in everyday life. Constantly seeing what is wrong gets in the way of appreciating the things that are right. In a relationship this can lead to a perception that the partner is a negative thinker, down on everything – even a nag. That said, there are times when running a Matching programme can also lead to problems, particularly when a couple is planning a major change in lifestyle, with the risk of the “matcher” being seen as not being realistic about problems and obstacles that might need to be considered in order to succeed.
  • One partner is Internally Referenced and the other is Externally Referenced. In this situation, the internally referenced partner might be frustrated that, when they are thinking aloud about things that need to be done, the externally referenced partner immediately does it – taking the partner’s words as an instruction, not just a thought.  I have certainly experienced this, and the frustration that it can cause if not understood simply as a difference in thinking patterns.
  • One partner has a strong Options meta programme, and the other is highly Procedural.  This difference often causes unexpected  arguments when the couple are planning something about which each is excited – a holiday or a celebration for example.  They begin by feeling great as they start to arrange it, but end up bickering as the two meta programmes cause frustrations as they begin to plan.

In fact, large differences in any of the meta programmes can lead to feelings of being misunderstood or not listened – the basis of many disagreements.

By jointly experiencing a MindSonar assessment and coaching session, the couple can gain an understanding of the underlining differences in their thinking styles and the way that this is impacting upon them.  As MindSonar stresses the usefulness and equality  of each meta programme, the couples can learn to appreciate their differences, rather than to judge them.

Such a session could provide the couple with the following benefits:

  • Each partner can get an insight both into the meta programmes in play in their chosen context.
  • Each can become aware of occasions when they have run the other meta programmes, thus recognising them as flexible ways of thinking, rather than as inherent ways of being.
  • The couples can also “try out” the other’s meta programmes with their given context in mind to gain their perspective on the situation.

Overall, MindSonar can enable couples to appreciate each other’s thinking style and also identify how they could use such differences to complement, rather than conflict with, each other.

Couples work is just one example of the flexibility of MindSonar in working on conflict resolution, and highlights its usefulness in personal as well as business coaching.  I’ll certainly be recommending it to my clients.

Procrastination – not just about Reactive versus Proactive

Procrastination – it affects virtually all of us at some time and I find that it’s a particularly common problem for those who seek a coach. In fact, it’s often the reason why someone finally decides to hire a coach – to help get them moving on ambitions and plans that they’ve had for years.

At the surface, procrastination seems to be predominantly about the person being overly reactive rather than proactive and so not stepping into the actions needed to take them forward.

However, the more I’ve looked at the clients’ behaviours in the context of the MindSonar profile, I’ve begun to notice just how many of the Meta Programmes can contribute to their procrastination. That is to say that I think that being overly Reactive is, in some cases, a result of other Meta Programmes that are in operation. Here are two examples that I’ve come across:

Example 1: A client had relatively recently become self-employed after being in his profession for over 20 years. He loved his profession and was keen to be his own boss. He had always worked hard and had always been happy working on his own initiative . To minimise business costs he had set up an office at home, equipped it well and had everything in place. He soon had a good flow of clients as he already had a good reputation in his field. He was excited by his prospects.

Within a year he found himself constantly procrastinating. He was finding a million things to do before starting his work. He had never experienced this in all his years of working for someone else. He had become demotivated and was rapidly losing his belief that he could be successfully self-employed. Before finally giving up, he decided to hire a coach to help – that’s when he came to me.

What was going on? When talking with this client, it was clear he had not lost his love of his profession, nor had he lost the desire to be self-employed. However, it became evident that in the past, although he had worked independently, he had liked the knowledge that there were others around him. They did not need to be others in the same profession, just people who were nearby with for support. He worked best with a proximity Meta Programme. Without others around he found he couldn’t get into what he called “work mode”. At his home office he needed to work well with solo, and he found he could not.

His solution? He decided to rent an office near to home in a building occupied by other self-employed professionals. He very soon found that he was back on track, enjoying building both his business and his professional reputation. His change from reactive to proactive happened naturally as a consequence of a change from solo to proximity.

Example 2: A client had recently been promoted from a role in which she was a technical expert into a managerial role in a similar team. She had been with the employer for a number of years and had a reputation as a hard worker and an excellent problem solver. She was excited about her new role as it provided a chance to influence senior management and have her say about policy at key meetings in which she had previously only attended as a technical advisor. Shortly after starting her role she found she was getting behind in some areas due to a new habit of frequent procrastination. She came for coaching to help her get over this.

In this client’s case it became clear that she had not previously had to argue her case at meetings, or had ever needed to direct other team members. In her current role she needed to do both. Her procrastination resulted from her being worried about what others would think of her if she disagreed with them or if she had to actively manage a member of her team. She was highly externally referenced which was not a helpful Meta Programme in her new role.

Her solution? Through coaching for assertiveness and confidence alongside employer-led management training she developed her internally referenced Meta Programme and was able to end her procrastination at work.

The lesson for me from such clients is to not simply focus on coaching to change from reactive to proactuve , but to look across a full MindSonar profile and see where the root of the problem is. That way the client is likely to move to reactive quite automatically.

In your experience, what other Meta Programmes might lead to procrastination? I’m very interested to know, so do please comment below.

MindSonar for the self-employed

Here in the UK, the number of new businesses starting up each year is rising significantly, with 660,000 being set up in 2016. However, statistics suggest that as many as 40% of start-ups don’t make it to 5 years. I suspect the same is true for many other countries too.

It’s not surprising therefore that coaches are often approached by clients who are in the early years of their business . Many are wondering why they are struggling to keep the business afloat and are suffering from more stress and unhappiness than when they were employed. Many are already considering ending their business to go back to employment, where they felt more comfortable.

A MindSonar profile analysis for these clients can be incredibly powerful. It enables them to identify any Meta Programmes they are operating which are not helpful for a business owner, and which might be getting in the way of their success and happiness. Once problem areas are recognised, coaching can then enable the client to identify the Meta Programmes they want to develop in themselves and also ones which might be best strengthened in the business by outsourcing a service or employing someone else.

The Meta Programmes likely to be causing such problems vary depending on the individual and their circumstances. However, I often come across problems in such clients who have particularly high scores for one or more of the following four Meta Programmes.:

1. Options
These clients have lots of ideas about the directions in which they could take their business or the ways in which they could market their services, but do not have a planned strategy for implementing them. They talk of the all the possibilities and they usually have lots of unfinished plans and ideas. MindSonar provides a way for the client to identify this way of thinking and so enable them to determine how to address the problem. This could be choosing to develop a higher Procedure Meta Programme in themselves, or to outsource some elements of their business to someone who already has a well-developed procedural approach.

2. Reactive
These clients have often thought a lot about how to develop their business and have a lot of knowledge about what can be done, but they have taken few or no actions to implement their ideas. They can always think of another piece of research which is needed before action can be taken. Once this is recognised by the client, they can work with their coach to enable the client to develop a stronger Proactive Meta Programme.

3. Proactive
Strange as it sounds to some, there can also be problems for self-employed clients with a very high Proactive score. They generally have good ideas about what they could do in their business, but take a scattergun approach to implementation. Typically, they’ve tried out each of their ideas but without any level of consistency. They do not often spend time waiting to see what the outcome of each action is as they quickly move to the next. Once recognised, coaching can then be used to enable the client to develop a stronger reactive Meta Programme.

4. Internal reference
Although a good level of Internal reference is helpful for the self-employed, if it is very high it can lead to a reluctance to learn from others, and even a reluctance to research their market. This can lead to failed marketing and product development as customer needs are not being met. Consequently, coaching can to enable the client to develop a stronger reactive Meta Programme can prove useful.

Working with these clients to identify triggers and activation statements and to activate resources is a helpful start. Combining this with solution focussed work such as Intensive Goal Description can bring about quite dramatic changes in their experience of running a business.

As I mentioned earlier, there can be problems for the self-employed with other Meta Programmes, particularly if they are a sole trader. This is not surprisingly as many are trying to cover many roles from marketing and accounts to being the specialist in their own field. The strength of MindSonar is that it can be used to help them recognise, and further develop, flexibility in their thinking styles, thus helping them become more successful in their role and, hopefully, less stressed.

The Dalai Lama’s Thinking Style

By Rolf Scheerder

When the Dalai Lama visited the Netherlands, 48 thousand people came to him in the Ahoy stadium in Rotterdam. The ideas the Dalai Lama teaches people all over the world are impressive. He made me curious: what meta programs does this inspiring leader use when he speaks about his beliefs?

I noted down the most obvious meta programs. I list them here,  in the order of their intensity. After each meta program I copied (in quotes) some phrases the Dalai Lama used.

  1. First I noticed that everything the Dalai Lama shared is coming from an internal reference.
  2. Concept: “At the smallest level of matter there is nothing, externally there is only mental projection. Time exists by virtue of past and future, the present consists by virtue of mental projection. Matter at an absolute level does not exist, neither does consciousness (this idea about matter is a concept from quantum physics that was already known 2000 years ago by Buddhist monks).There are four Noble Truths.
    First there is the truth of the basis, the cause, that leads us to happiness and suffering.
    Second there is the truth of stopping the suffering,
    Third there is the truth of practicing the path (emptiness) that leads us to the stopping.
    Fourth is the truth of the state of lasting happiness.
  3. Structure: “’Cause’ versus ‘result’ and ‘suffering’ versus ‘happiness’ are interdependent; 4 values, 16 principles, two truths, two levels, three main issues… Understand that interdependencies without dependencies cannot exist. Violence exists only due to the concept of ‘we’ versus ‘them’; thinking about what is good for us without thinking about what is good for others.”
  4. Reactive: “My philosophy: teaching Buddhism based on the principal acceptance of spiritual messages. Not just out of devotion, first analyse what is said.”
  5. A bit of proactive behaviour was visible when the Dalai Lama helped the presenter getting the microphone in the right position. The Dalai Lama shows a lot of humor, he won’t hesitate to say something funny, even when this might confront the sensitivities of the person concerned. So he invited his female guest of the day, a well-known politician, to sit in his chair because of the size of her body.
  6. Towards: “Get ahead by practicing the path, pursue happiness.“ “Practice basic understanding, find out the causes of suffering, then practice the path, it leads to a state of liberty.”
  7. Some ‘Away from’ in mentioning: “Avoid negativity.”
  8. Procedure: “Every day I get up at 3.30 am, then I do meditation, then I listen to the BBC radio and analyse the news. My daily rhythm goes on till 6.30 pm, then I go to sleep.” “Mentally I easily adjust to different time zones, physically it is more difficult.”
  9. Options: “From my fourth birthday on, I had to learn rituals. I am through with rituals, better go to the core of our thinking.”
  10. Matching: “The cause of suffering is ignorance, everything is an idea based on something else, everything is based on interdependence. Many governments are developed more, and there are still many problems caused by mankind. Action depends on the right motivation and that comes through awareness.”
  11. Mismatching: “There is a global lack of moral ethics, which argues for a secular ethics.” (coming back to matching).
  12. Internal locus of control: “We are the cause of our suffering, by ignorance. Two levels: first not understanding how things work versus having inner peace, second stick to the self as an absolute existence. As sticking to an absolute enemy, it causes anger and 90 % of anger comes from projection.”
  13. People: “Have great compassion for all living beings, free them from suffering.”
  14. Information: “Learn from all religions, schools, quantum physics. Know what you believe in.  Accept information only after your own analysis. Understanding, knowledge is essential. To relax I read the works of great masters of Nalanda.”
  15. Activity: “It comes down to investing.”
  16. General: “7 Billion people are physically, emotionally, mentally the same, a whole. Buddhism does not believe in creation, the world was already there.”
  17. Change: “In the cause of liberation, focus on the suffering. In the cause of enlightenment, focus on the suffering of others.”
  18. Past: “Explained by insights.”
  19. Present: “Be conscious.”
  20. Kinesthetic: “We have to learn to deal with our own emotions, children in basic education, devotion, compassion, love, tolerance. Things that matter exists not by objectivity.”

Striving for goals or steering clear of problems?

“Meta Programs are subconscious mental-emotional filters that determine what you attend to, what you sort for, and what you respond to in life. These patterns identify how you process information and what motivates you to act.”Coaching In the Workplace, Tim Hallbom and Nick LeForce

Our Intention with this blog is to give you some experience with each of the different Meta Programs that MindSonar™ measures, and how you can learn to easily integrate them in any setting, whether it be personal or professional. Each week you will learn all of the different Meta Programs in depth.Continue reading

How Can Change Be Effectively Implemented?

This week we are exploring the idea of how we compare things around us, adapt to change, as well as the rate at which we prefer change in a specific area of our life. Knowing your own, or someone else’s pattern for change will guide you to the easiest path in effectively and gracefully bringing about any revisions. Pinpointing this ‘meta-program’ will bring great insight into the inner workings of a person, group or organization.

Do you notice similarities? Or are you drawn to what is different?Continue reading