Eleni Sarantinou bLU Talks 2019

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge

I was born in Greece, the home of olives and grapes. I studied Economics and had a successful career in IT before stumbling across Life Coaching and NLP. Today, I’m an NLP trainer, a Life Coach, a wife, a mother, a world traveller. Nothing gives me more joy than sharing what I’ve learnt, and am still learning, with you. Read more

Perceptual Positions

One sunny Saturday morning, I made some tea for both of us (myself and I) and placed two chairs in my room; I visualized myself sitting opposite to me. I talked to myself as a friend who does care from the deepest of her heart for me would. I summed up all my positive qualities, was warm and sweet and spoke sincerely, spontaneously and well-intentioned. I then asked myself some questions, as I was interested to know about my friend’s values, beliefs and feelings. ‘Myself’ was looking at me from the other side quite emotional and very touched.

I then changed chair and ‘myself’ answered my questions. This process created a huge energy in my body and I heard things for the very first time which I then wrote in my diary and took action on.

Before we seek anybody else’s love and encouragement, such a practice makes us look deep inside ourselves and learn to love and believe in us more. It makes us recognize our qualities and special gifts; be ourselves’ best friend.

This above practice is one variation of ‘Perceptual Positions’ in terms of NLP:

Three chairs, three positions, three perceptions:

1) our point of view

2) the other person’s point of view with whom we have some unresolved negative emotions and

3) the neutral observer’s perception about the relationship and behavior of 1&2.

All positions are equally important.

In this very powerful exercise there is in fact only one person participating. Moving from one chair to the other, in each position, the person explains the situation or relationship the way he perceives it and gives his point of view through his beliefs and values.

As soon as the same person moves to the other chair, he automatically steps into the other person’s shoes. This might be someone he hassome difficulty understanding or is disappointed with. All of a sudden, he is looking back at him (1st chair) and shares a new perspective, creating new insights. And last, but not least, the same person takes the position of the neutral observer, offering his neutral feedback to both the two previous ‘chairs’ points of view after having observed them fully, their words, posture, breathing, facial expressions, total emotional state. This is also valuable feedback, helping the person who reaches the third position to finally acquire a 360 degree overview of the situation; leaving behind him many emotional barriers of sadness, anger and other negative emotions. The whole point is to be able to move freely from one ‘chair’ to the other effortlessly and improve understanding.

We all do this naturally to some extent but the impact of ‘perceptual positions’ is so much deeper than just considering someone’s point of view in our normal thinking process. This exercise alone offers invaluable feedback and creates big lasting shifts emotionally. It works far more effectively when we consciously realize the significance of such a process and use it often. The more we use it, the deeper the understanding of any situation, conflict or imbalance and soon it becomes our unconscious strategy to deal successfully with conflicts much quicker – internally (inside of us) and externally (with others).

What we had also tried once with two other fellow NLPers once during a program was the following: while having breakfast, we would sit at the same table but every time on different chairs; it was astonishing how our points of views and revelations were affected and had a new twist depending on the chair. Try it!

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The Change Book Series is all about empowerment and collaboration! My chapter with title ‘Sacrifice-less’ came straight from my heart in a flash.
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