Identifying Useful Intentions


Behind every behavior there is a positive intention. ~ NLP presupposition

I love the above presupposition of Neuro Linguistic programming. Understanding the above presupposition intellectually and emotionally will radically change our behaviors and interaction with other people. While this presupposition has exceptional role in many NLP patterns and change work, this article is centered on leveraging the presupposition for communication and personal change.

To make the idea simple to digest and implement, let’s take an example of two co-workers Ram & Shyam who are in the middle of a conversation. Since they have different viewpoints about the topic, they are unable to proceed further to take a decision. Let’s assume Ram decides to explore Shyam’s map of the situation and asks the below question.

What’s the useful intention behind Shyam’s viewpoint?

After asking this question, Ram intently listens and understands the rationale behind Shyam’s views. Listening without interruption is not an easy skill. We pretend to listen and prepare to respond! Shyam also gets a better clarify on his own viewpoint ,values and beliefs by verbalizing his thoughts.

Now together they can explore a new solution by posing another question.

What are the alternative ways to satisfy this useful intention?

This is a powerful question and sets them thinking in a new direction where the focus is on ‘what is right’, not ‘who is right’.

I know this may seem like an oversimplification of the problem at hand. In my view, when it comes to communication and conflict resolution it all boils down to knowing others’ perspectives. Knowing internal maps of the other person is the key to negotiation and agreements.

Probing useful intentions can also help us in understanding our habits and behaviors. A few months ago I started drinking coffee almost every day at a coffee shop. I didn’t like my behavior intellectually; this coffee break was appealing to me emotionally. I wasn’t aware what’s driving me to the coffee shop and making me consume caffeine. One day I sat in silence and I asked myself, ‘What’s the useful intention behind this behavior’?

I realized I enjoyed reading books in a quiet place (and this particular coffee shop wasn’t much crowded) and that intention was useful. In this light of new awareness, I searched for alternative ways to satisfy the useful intention of reading books. I found that I could afford a 15-minute break at work and read 5 pages of my favorite book every day. I haven’t been reading books in coffee shops these days as I am doing that during short breaks at work. Now my visits to coffee shops are with my wife Anusha to have quality attention on each other [we know the useful intention and we like this way] J.

PS : I acknowledge the graphics from the internet.

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