Acknowledge Filters

I’m going to let the cat out of the bag here. When Coach Mel asked us to complete the VAKAd Assessment, which was part of the PDF, I thought it was unnecessary, as I had done it before (several times), and I was quite convinced of my primary and secondary communication styles. After all, I was in Human Resources for 13 years, a Certified Trainer, etc etc blah blah blah. HAH! That was my first filter that I had. I was talking through my own experience, and making the connections, solely based on my own consciousness of the task at hand. As the Universe will have it, Coach Mel threw in a monkey wrench of an activity to illustrate his point differently, and I realized I was misaligned. What I thought I was, I was no longer. Yikes! TOUGH lesson there. As a coach, the utmost importance of needing to be sensitive and conscious to our very own filters, so that we are always ensuring we are a blank slate, clear of judgement, clear of our own lenses, clear of our own filter, and only then we can truly be in the moment to the client.

Sorry, Coach! 🙂

We human beings (and to some extent, animals), have been influenced, conditioned, nurtured since birth through different stimulus in our every day lives. A baby learns that by crying, milk will be served (and on the other spectrum, the mother learns that milk, a diaper change, swaddling, etc etc will make comfort the baby, and in return grant her sleep & rest). All these information, is absorbed, assimilated and anchored as an experience, eventually into a memory, and a filter. Eventually, layer upon layer through the years, these filters circle back to influence other areas and the rest of our lives.

A couple of posts ago (which you may read in my post about Direct Communication), I shared about the NLP Communication Model about how we process information and model them into our world. Basically, all experiences will be filtered and modeled into our own world. And this will be made into internal representations which will influence the state of ourselves, and finally affect our behaviour.

Take for instance, a child who scores A for mathematics because the teacher was very strict, gave tonnes of homework, and made it a daily practice. The child grows up to have this memory and belief that in order to score A for mathematics, these experiences are key. Years later, the child now a parent, will impose to his/her children these factors which are deemed important in their pursuit for academic excellence. The child may delete or distort or generalize the experience to different outcomes.

So what does this mean to us as a coach and to the client? We need to be aware of the processing of information, through deletion, distortion and generalization (D-D-G).

Deletion is when information or experiences are overlooked, misplaced, and deeply set into the subconscious, which could be crucial for transformation. A client that says, “I can’t see the point of my manager asking for so many details in this project. These details are not critical for the success of this project” may need to uncover or rediscover the need for having details. Perhaps, in the past such context has led to a bad experience, or an unproductive event, hence the deletion of this experience in forming his/her behaviour.

Distortion occurs when there is a misrepresentation of reality. Often, to either to motivate or to exasperate. Experiences or information is purveyed out of context, making it larger than life. A client that says, “I have a boss from hell, he will not listening to anyone. I will lose my job if this doesn’t work out” seems to be distorting the behavorial images and the relationship context of his/her situation. As a coach, we can seek for clarification of the metaphors being used, the outcomes that was shared and even ask for details and proof. This will help to neutralize the situation, and enable the client to seek comfort in moving forward.

Lastly, generalization is when a limited quantity of experiences, exposures, or even information is made to broadened assumptions. A client that says, “I guess it would be wonderful to take on that job in Paris, because when I went there for my holiday, I really enjoyed my time there” seems to have made some generalization of the city being suitable for a working life, and made this in context of his/her holiday time, which a coach from a different point of view, can easily find the gap in this intent. We all know that working and living in a city, gives different reality compared to a holiday. The client is talking through his/her experience and desire to place context of probably a decision, a need, an action, versus reasoning the pros and cons, weighing the risks and understanding the real behaviours needed for that intent.

So, how do we acknowledge and gauge these filters? Our responses to our what happens around us are based on our filters. This is portrayed through our communication styles. We respond in our communication style that is primarily conditioned. By understanding and identifying the communication style of the client/coachee, the coach will be more effective in building rapport, creating trust, being present, evoking awareness & learning, communicating effectively and driving for inspired action & follow-through.

The four main communication styles that is commonly preferred would be Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic and Auditory Digital (VAKAd). Knowing the differences and the nuances in the characteristics of a visual, auditory, kinesthetic and auditory digital response will harness the power of the coach to connect better with the client.

As a coach, we can check on our clients’ responses, their inner words (as illustrated below) and gauge the preferred communication style versus our own. Closing and matching the gaps of your own preferred style and your client’s will help the coaching quality.

Illustration by Shereen using Canva.

Key take-aways from this session for me will be as follows:

  1. Be aware, understand and check my own filters, to ensure that it will not interfere with the coaching process.
  2. Check and balance to check (not to overanalyze) other people’s filters (especially the client), so that I can bring deeper awareness and insights to them.
  3. Observe more of the communication and learning styles of others. This will help me to tune-in my communication towards their own, enabling others to better understand my messages.

Now, this blog seems to be a little technical (hahaha, this is based on my own filter), but definitely honing the skills in these patterns will level up my coaching ante. Practise makes progress!

Published by Shereen Kaur

Coach, Consultant, Wellness Advocate, Artist, Mom

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