Monday, December 08, 2008

being in communication

So this weekend i helped out on production for a communication course run by Landmark Education. It was fantastic. I already took the course, and it was nice to be able to be a gadfly enough to be able to leave the room, but in there enough to sample the course again.

What i want to talk about is the different perspectives of NLP and LE (Landmark Education). They both deal with humanity, NLP deals with a more scientific/epistemological filter, while LE takes the metaphysical/ontological tack. Both 'systems', if you will, look at the development of humans as individuals, and as communicators. NLP focuses much more on developing effective communication skills than self-development.

NLP suggests that highly effective communicators are adept at creating rapport with people. This means that they can create an experience of familiarity with others. NLPers came to this by looking at and imitating the behavior of highly social folks. What they notice was that people who were in rapport, performed similar behaviors, gestures and sometimes in a nice little rhythm.

What's weird is that people are cautioned to not literally mimic the actions of the other person, but to do miniature motions that approximate the gestures of the person they want to be in rapport with. This is funny, because apparently people have a filter that tells them when others are mocking them, and matching (what NLP calls it) the person's behavior might set of these alarms.

LE, on the other hand, asserts that being in communication or affinity is a way of being, not a set of gestures. A more new-agey take would say that a 'way of being' is the way that your consciousness resonates (pun not intended) throughout your behaviors to influence it. So when you are being related to someone, you overtly and subtly behave in a way that that person picks up on your comfort and connection with them, but they probably couldn't put their finger, nose or ear on just what it is about how you're acting that tells them your comfortable with them. As opposed to, say, you doing the same things while being bad. It isn't the inflection of the voice, its the inflections of the inflections that resonate and broadcast our 'way of being' or emotional state. [note to reader: i wrote the section you just read after having written the section you're about to read]

Both of these positions seem different, and seemingly irreconciliable. But i think the clue is something i learned in high-school chemistry. My teacher (a real nerdy physicist with a sense of humor, man i forgot his name) asked us when we were learning about waves and stuff "if a flute and a piano both make the same note, let's say 'middle C', why do they sound different". I blurted out sub-cycles somehow, and he said 'correct'.


Yeah, notes vibrate at different frequencies. When two different instruments make the same note, the vibrations have their own set of vibrations (see fractals if you're bored). I think this gives a clue as to the seeming discrepancy.

So, if i'm being angry, then my behavior is going to go one way. But if i'm being delighted, then my behavior might go another way. I'm asserting that even if i perform the same 'exact' gesture while being those different states, you'll be able to tell that there's a difference between the two 'mental states' or 'ways of being'.

What i'm supposing is that embedded in human behavior, there is another layer of behavior that's a little deeper than we may be able to consciously notice. Sure, i can 'sound' like i'm delighted or angry, but that may not be the case. How you can know when i'm faking is the fact that you can pick on the 'sub-cycles' of my communications.

I think that's all i wanted to say. That being an expert at creating rapport, attempting to not 'be in rapport' has a limit past which you cannot go because the NLPers are unable to convince the other person of their 'congruency' without actually being congruent (word choice unintended).
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