From: L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections – 2010 – #13
March 22,  2010



Yes, I tease them.  Yes, I provoke them.  And yes, I do it intentionally.  After the last post on Grinder, several asked about why I do this, what are my motives, what I’m seeking to do in it, whether it is divisive, and of course, all of that deserves an answer.  So here goes.

Given that the field of NLP is not only without any kind of international standards, association, or journals, it is also a field that (in spite of the worldwide net) hardly has any forum for the leaders of NLP to communication.  Imagine that!  A field of communication that doesn’t communicate!  Well, not directly at least.  There is, of course, the grapevine, gossip, notes in footnotes in books, and of course, websites.

So especially when a new book appears and it presents information about one of the “camps” in this field, as a way to stay current in the field, I read it.  I want to know what’s going on, what new developments are emerging, and how others are interpreting or re-interpreting the field of NLP.  And when I see ideas and concepts that strike me as against the very spirit of NLP (as I did in the book I reviewed last week, against rapport for example), I figure that’s something to write about.

The point here is that I’m focusing on ideas, concepts, and patterns, not personalities.  Oh, yes, the ideas come through persons, and the personalities of those persons, but my critique is never about or against the person.  It is always about what the person is saying in arguing for or against some position.  It is always feedback about what the person has said or possibly done, and never against the person.  Check it out, that’s why in last week’s post I quoted from the book, I quoted the facts of what the person’s actually said.  I do that for a specific reason.  I want to quote accurately and precisely and to fairly represent what the person is saying.

Now one thing in this field, as with almost every self-development field, people in leadership roles so often take themselves so seriously that they present themselves as gurus.  That is, as unquestionable authorities, as somehow having the divine right to not be held accountable.  And, of course, that’s the stuff of high comedy— stuff that I can hardly resist jumping into and exploiting with playful humor.  Hence the teasing!  After all, when human beings think and act as if they are infallible—that’s when they are the most silly and the most ridiculous.  And I think that’s when it’s time to take the mickey out of them.

Now true enough, most people know better than to claim infallibility directly.  So they act that way by being closed to feedback.  And, of course, that also provides wonderful moments of high comedy.  Now I am of the opinion that there just hasn’t been enough people breaking out in rackus laughter when the gurus imply such things.  But then again, some are masters of ceremony.   They set things up so as to create a hushed environment so that when they speak, you’d think it was a funeral, or a service in a church, temple, or mosque, or perhaps the moment with a high official of state is about to speak.  And so whatever they say is then enshroud in somehow considered something to stand in awe of, to nod with a knowingness that this is sacred ground, the secret of life is about to be revealed.

Now they can say something like, “You can feel assured, fully and honestly, that what I’m saying you already fully know unconsciously, and as … your unconscious … knows this now, you can feel more confident than ever before now, can you not?” and everybody nods in unconscious agreement.  How can you argue against that?  Besides, who are you to contradict the expert?  Besides, you better watch out, he or she may install something terrible in your unconscious mind when you aren’t watching!

Now if you are not laughing out loud at all of that, you may already be too far gone … or not.  Many kings in olden times knew about this danger of over-seriousness and so appointed court jesters.  Their job description was to create a jolly ole time for everyone by teasing and jesting and mocking all of the solemnity of the high court least the royal manners and ceremonies would deceive the dignities to talk and act as if they have a stiff board shoved all the way up their rare end.

Maybe that’s what we need!   Perhaps we need some good ole fashion Court Jesters in the Halls of NLP especially when the gurus emerge with their minions doing homeage and bowing in reverential deference to whatever the gurus say!  Actually, I have some colleagues I’d heartily recommend to play that role with amazing delightful fun.

So why do I tease and jest as I do?  Maybe for these very reasons.  Maybe because there’s just too much seriousness in this field, too many people thinking that hypnosis is real, that the language of persuasion is beyond resistance, and that the gurus of NLP are dangerously powerful.  Maybe it’s time to let Toto loose so that he can pull the curtain open and expose the magician behind the curtain at the microphone making all the noise!  Then, when we all see that he’s just a plump little man wanting to be a real magician and that he’s not the All-Knowing and Powerful Oz, we can enjoy the joke and get on with being real— with actualizing our highest and best as the fallible human beings that we are.