The Grand Gesture Using NLP

Discarded Work Procedure (all rights reserved)
When I was writing the post 'Which Space is Right For You?', I recalled some neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques I was taught years ago while doing training in coaching with supervisors at BHP Steel at Port Kembla.

One technique that stuck in my mind is that you can imbue an object with meaning (that is, make it the symbol of something), and then do something to the object to symbolise action.

For example, if you want to communicate that we are going to be totally rewriting an out-of-date work procedure, bring a copy of the old procedure, wave it around while describing it, then throw it in a rubbish bin.  Although you could retrieve it from the bin, or even just reprint it, this gives a very clear message that the old procedure is gone.

Another example that I use when delegating tasks (no, not a facilitation example, but still a useful illustration) is to write some notes about the task on a piece of paper.  Not in my notebook with my ongoing personal notes, but on a piece of stray A4 paper.  When I feel that I have adequately introduced the task, I push the piece of paper across the desk to the other person.  If they 'accept it' by picking it up or simply touching it, the task has been 'handed over'.  If they glance at it but do not touch it, there is probably some reluctance to take on the task.  This means I need to do some more influencing, or maybe review whether to give the task to them at all.  I may even reach over and take the page back, and keep it or hold it for a while before offering it again.

I recall a story from couple of decades ago at the Baillieu Library at Melbourne University during a change project involving digitising records. Andrea Phillips described the sense of exhilaration that came from burning some of the old wooden filing cabinets.  This may be a bit extreme for your purposes, but stomping on a work procedure can certainly wake your participants up.

Think about objects with meaning in your facilitation space, and how you might bring them alive.