On my hypnotherapy training diploma, I often do a really simple exercise to show people how good they are at really paying attention.
Behind a cover, I drop a pound coin onto a saucer several times and ask everyone in the room to really listen to it. Then I drop a ten pence piece on to the same saucer several times over and over and tell them to really notice the difference in the sound. Then I repeat it with a penny.
So then I drop the coins on to the sauce, out of view and the students have to write down the order of the coins that were used. The difference in the sound is incredibly minimal, yet most of this years students got them all correct.
This offers a perfect illustration of what I am writing about here today… Calibration.
As a Nottingham Forest football fan, when I was in my teenage years, I often would watch how the fans cheered when we got a free kick anywhere near the 30 yard box. Because we had Stuart Pearce and his left foot knew how to power in a goal from distance.
When the players on the football field are lining up and organising themselves in preparation for Stuart Pearce to have a piledriver goal attempt, you can watch how his teammates would disperse and stand in certain places and how Pearce held his body in anticipation of kicking the ball, he had a certain look on his face that told us what was about to happen… Us fans knew what was coming because we had ‘calibrated’ it all in our minds over the previous games and seasons. Allow me to explain how we use this for personal development… It is one of the things I love from the field of NLP… And in true Roy Castle style, lets all sing “Calibration’s what you need…”
Calibration is a key skill to use in therapy, as well as alomst every other communication you have. When learned properly, it’ll help you become a human lie detector, as I’ll explain shortly.
Calibration is the ability to notice the responses that you are getting from a person you are communicating with or observing – so you can judge what impact words, messages, actions are having on that person.
From having watched Stuart Pearce set up and score a lot of free kicks in the past, I knew when the free kick came up, Pearce was going to strike it in a particular way, as most of my fellow loyal Forest fans would have done. This is also useful to gauge how an interaction is going and get an idea as to how they may behave or respond next.
Each human being is unique and is unique in the way that he or she responds to you. So you must learn to open your senses in order to see, hear and feel what is really going on, rather than what you hope is happening or worse still, what you guess is happening. So many of us lazily assume to know what anothers experience is, when paying some really close attention to peoples responses and reactions will give you the unique ‘settings’ for that person.
This kind of attention be paid involves looking at the entire person: the way they move, their pace, colour changes, facial expressions, hand movements, those tiniest muscular movements and the way these cues change as the person changes their state or thought process. It also involves hearing the various tones, pitches, rhythms and volumes that modify the voice at the same time. This is all evidence of what is happening while that person communicates.
As a hypnotherapist, it is important to learn to do this — in particular if they are being incongruent between what they say and how they say it.
This exercise I am sharing here today is known in many circles as the foundation for calibration. The more you practise it, the better your skills are going to be! With anyone you do this with, there are lots of other things to take into account too. You’ll get much more authentic responses from people when you have developed rapport, so make sure you have got plenty of rapport before you start to calibrate.
This exercise can be applied whenever or wherever you are and it is very useful in all manner of circumstances – I have put it in the context of whether someone is lying or telling the truth. The way I offer it to you here is formal and structired, but you can do it in much more casual and conversational ways as you practice and understand the process.
Remember, this is only an exercise. It does not matter at first whether you get it right or wrong. With time, practice and persistence you are sure to improve!
Step One: Clear your mind of your thoughts, or at the very least have a receptive, neutral mindset. A receptive, focused state of mind is most beneficial when you start doing these things. Just be aware of what your own experience actually is.
Step Two: Expand your senses – that is, become acutely aware of all sounds, sights and feelings you are experiencing. Imagine that you are spreading that awareness out to really tune into the entire space you are in. Then notice everything about the person in front of you. Notice the pace which they are breathing at, their pulse, how often they blink, swallow and twitch. Notice the colour of their skin and sense their temperature. Let go of any preconceived notions you may have about this person.
Now ask him a question, which they are going to answer truthfully. You can ask any question you like, but keep it as emotionally neutral as possible. You might ask, for instance, “Are you wearing shoes today?” or “What is your name?” Mentally note what you notice about the person. This time also add in your auditory perception – so, notice whether you can hear any difference in the way they give their answer as well as seeing what changes occur each time.
Also add in your own sensory awareness; notice what you actually feel and where you feel it when they answer and pick up on your own feelings and unconscious responses to the answers. You can learn to trust how you feel as it is a brilliantly accurate resource, especially when you are tuned into it by continually doing exercises like these.
Step Three: Now ask your partner to clear their mind. Just as we did in the previous exercise – with neutral, different thought.
Step Four: While they are then in this new, neutral state ask them another question. This time ask your partner to lie when they answer. Look and listen to what you notice changing here. Note any changes, in particular those that contrast with what you noticed in Step two.
Step Five: Once again, ask your partner to clear his/her mind. Get them thinking of something totally random and different. ie. What did you have for breakfast today? Or which shoe did you put on first when you left home today?
Step Six: Repeat Steps 2-5 until you think you can spot this person lying. The repetition should enable you to learn the specific differences – this is you calibrating their responses.
Step Seven: Now you get to prove what you have learnt while calibrating…. Ask your partner further questions and ask them to lie or tell the truth at random. Notice whatever you notice about them when they respond to your questions. Then guess whether he’s lying. Go with your first impression, trust the information that is presented by
Step Eight: Check with your partner whether you are right. Do this ten times in a row and keep track of your accuracy.
You are always looking out for subtle, seemingly imperceptible details from your environment. Look out for these tiniest pieces of information. By practicing this kind of technique, you learn to calibrate what other people are doing and amazing things happen with your communication and empathy with individuals in many varying ways.
So have some fun enhancing your calibration skills and watch how your communication develops wonderfully. Also watch how you become better at paying attention to what is really going on for that person.
Have a great day.