Thom's online class in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).
Week 4: The meaning of communication is the response you get. Communicate in their language. Benefits without features have no credibility. Features without benefits have no relevance. Show, don't tell. Ask for feedback. Always call for action. Campaign 365 days a year. Plus Attention Deficit Disorder, education.
Thom Hartmann NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) class week 4
Thom Hartmann program, 07 December 2004
Includes Attention Defecit Disorder, education
see, hear, feel, framing
And welcome back to our program. It's the second hour of our Tuesday show. And we've started this regular feature of doing an NLP training program, neurolinguistic programming, how to use the tools of brilliant communicators to transform politics. And I just want to let you know that today's lesson is going to be held tomorrow at this time. We're still fine-tuning it a little bit. I really want this to just be as good as it can possibly get and there's just a little bit more work I want to do on it before I share it with you.
But I'll give you a little taste. The person who first introduced me to NLP, a fellow by the name of Charles Erinprice was a psychologist that we had hired for, back in '78, when I was the executive director of a residential community for, a residential treatment center for abused and emotionally disturbed kids, called the New England Salem Children's Trust. It's still there in New Hampshire, and a fine charity if you're looking for one in this holiday season. And, but this was 26 years ago. And Charles had gotten his PhD in math first at Yale University and taught math at Yale and then went back and got a PhD in Psychology or Social Science or something like that and ended up as a psychologist.
And he had come up with what he called 'Erinprice's law of requisite diversity'. And it really mirrors one of the presuppositions of NLP. And his 'law of requisite diversity' was that over time, in a closed system, and ultimately the planet is a closed system, but over time, in a closed system, the component of that system that controls the greatest range of potential behaviors will eventually control the system. You say, "What?"
In other words, here's how that translates into politics. The reason that Bill Clinton was such a successful politician was that when he was with African American folks, they felt that he really understood their world view. His skin wasn't dark but they got the sense that he knew what it felt like to have dark skin. He had hung out enough in small towns in the South. He grew up in a small town in the South. He knew. So in other words, he was with blacks, they felt like he was one of them. When Bill Clinton hung out with wealthy industrialists, they felt he was one of them. When Clinton hung out with professional politicians, they felt like he was one of them. In other words he was able, as Paul said, in as I recall his letter to, the Romans, or the Ephesians? [1 Corinthians 9:22 - ed.] In any case, Saint Paul made the comment "I have become all things to all men". And it's not about creating a phony sense of, you know, "I'm this, I'm that, I'm the other thing" but rather being able to adapt to change and to have multiple ways of seeing, understanding, hearing, feeling, sensing and sharing your perception of the world with others. In other words the most flexible person, the person who controls the greatest range of behaviors, will eventually control the system. This is one of the keys of leadership, it's one of the keys of management, and it's certainly one of the keys of good communication.
'Erinprice's law of requisite diversity'. And it applies by the way in biological systems, it applies in mathematical systems, it applies in chemical systems, it applies in human systems. So I just want to share that with you as a little tease for tomorrow. We're going to have our NLP class tomorrow, though, instead of this afternoon.
Gotta bunch of other things here that I want to talk to you about today as well. But also kind of stepping off on that topic, on that theme, one of the major places where I have personally applied what I learned about neurolinguistic programming and how it works, and of course one of the core principles of it being framing, is in the area of Attention Deficit Disorder.
I don't know if you saw the program Sunday night, '60 Minutes', where they were talking about adult ADHD. They actually interviewed a good friend of mine, Ned Hallowell, he wrote the foreword to my book "Attention Deficit Disorder: a Different Perception" and wrote a blurb for my most recent book on ADHD, which just came out this last year, last year, it's called 'The Edison Gene'. And Ned is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, associate professor of psychiatry, and a psychiatrist in private practice and the author of a book called 'Driven to Distraction', which is one of the better books on adult ADHD as well as some wonderful recent books about anxiety and worry and resilience and other things. Ned's just an all around renaissance man. And he will be the first to tell you that he has ADD. In fact, he was one of the first to come out about it a decade ago, back when everyone was trying to say "Me?".
So I reframed this. I looked at this and I said "OK", this was back 10 years ago. It was actually 25 years ago when we were running this community for abused kids and I got it that there was something different about the kids who came in to our program with this label of hyperactivity or hyperkinesis. It was the majority of the kids who came into the program, actually. In fact, frankly, in the first year or so I can't remember one kid who didn't come in with that as one of many diagnoses. They didn't call it ADHD back then, it was called hyperkinesis, the hyperkinetic syndrome, the hyperactive syndrome, minimal brain damage, minimal brain dysfunction, MBD was the acronym that was used back then. There was no pharmaceutical cure for it, they were experimenting with using Ritalin for it.
And Doctor Ben Feingold had come up with this idea that it was food additives. And I flew out to San Francisco and met with Ben Feingold. His book 'Why Your Child Is Hyperactive' had been published in 1977, and this was 1978 that I was running this program, and I got to know Ben Feingold and we did a study in our program on his diet. And to this day our program, the program in New Hampshire, continues to have an all natural foods diet, you know, for the kids. But what we found was that Feingold's hypothesis that salicylate-based food additives were what were triggering these kids was not always the case. In fact, it was not usually the case. We had one kid that we could flip on and off like a light switch with salicylate-based food additives. The rest of them, it didn't seem to make a big difference, although nutrition, I think, is just an important thing in general.
But it seemed to me that these kids were just basically by and large born this way and then wounded by the experience of trying to fit into public schools that weren't designed for kids wired like this. And the reason that this was so obvious to me was because I was one of them. When I was a kid, I remember in the second grade, Mrs. Clark, my second grade teacher saying, you know, "Hey Thommy, a fish wouldn't get caught if it kept its mouth shut", you know, because I was always interrupting in class, or, "An empty wagon always rattles." I can still, she was a wonderful teacher. She was a wonderful teacher. She's the one, she and my mother, you know, just got me completely addicted to reading. My mother really gets the majority of the credit, but Mrs. Clark was a good, a great teacher. But she just didn't know what to do with this hyperactive kid. Me!
And so the conclusion that I came to was that this wasn't a disease or an illness or somebody being broken, it was simply another way of being in the world, and in fact a lot of the people as I grew older, a lot of the people that I knew who were entrepreneurs, who were in the media, who were actors, who were, I worked in radio for a decade in the seventies, late sixties through the early seventies, a lot of people in the media, particularly investigative reporters, a lot of the writers I knew, journalists, people who were drawn to high adrenalin professions, emergency medical technicians, ER surgeons, seemed to have this set of qualities called ADHD.
And I came up with this theory thatwhat was really going on was that historically there had been two types of societies. This is before industrial society. There had been two types of societies. There were hunting gathering societies and there were agricultural societies. Going back thousands, tens of thousands of years. And in a hunting gathering society these three primary characteristics of ADHD - impulsivity, distractibility and a need for high levels of stimulation, that these three characteristics, this three-cornered stool for the diagnosis of ADHD would actually be useful.
If you're walking through the forest, looking for something to eat and you don't see anything to eat, you need to scan more aggressively, you need to be noticing everything around you. Well, that's what kids do in classrooms and it's called distractibility. They're noticing everything around them. Well, in the forest or the jungle or the savannah it would guarantee that you would spot that flash of light over there that's a rabbit that's going to be your lunch or that flash of light over there that's a bear that wants to make you its lunch. In either case, you'd get your lunch and you'd survive. distractibility as a survival skill.
Impulsivity was the second one. Hey, if you're running through the forest chasing a rabbit, let's say, and a deer goes running by, you don't have time to pull out a pad to pen and say, "Well let's sit down and do a good careful analysis here. We'll draw a line down the middle, put rabbit on the left and deer on the right. Now, let's see. Rabbit easier to catch but he's got less meat." "The deer is harder to catch, but there's a lot more." And, you know, by the time you've thought the process through they've both gone! So what would you have to do? You'd have to change your behavior so quickly you didn't even realize you'd thought about it. In psychological terms this is called 'behavior precedes cognition'. In other words, you act before you think. This is the dictionary definition of impulsivity.
And again, it would be a survival skill for hunter gatherer people. And similarly, the person who wakes up in the morning and says, "You know, it sounds like, you know, fun today, it sounds like fun, yet you go out there and there's things that want to eat me as much as I want to eat them and find lunch! That sounds like fun." That kind of person would be highly adaptive. They would succeed in a hunting gathering society, whereas somebody who says, "Ah, I don't know, there's lions and tigers and bears out there, I think I'll just stay in the cave until they go away." That person would starve. And of course, in an agricultural society, it was the exact opposite. You don't want distractible people. You want people who will focus on odds, pick these bugs off these plants hour after hour after hour, week after week, month after month, year after year, generation after generation. Very focused. Not impulsive, not distractible, not making quick decisions. The growing season is, you know, nine months to a year, very careful, very thoughtful, very methodical and they don't like to take risks, they don't need a lot of stimulation, in fact, you don't want them to be wired in a way that they want stimulation. Instead you want them to stay in this boring farm for the rest of their lives.
So all the hunters, I hypothesized, in Europe got up and moved to the East coast, and then those who were still bored moved to the Midwest, and then those who were still bored moved to the Rockies, and those who were still bored moved to the West coast, and then they started to accumulate because the ocean was there, therefore we have Hollywood. So, anyhow, that was the theory that I laid out. ...
... I want to continue with this story about Attention Deficit Disorder because I think this is a really important point. ...
... Our quote for the day, William Butler Yeats, "Education is more than the filling of a pail, it is also the lighting of a fire". And along with that, a nice quote from Confucius. "If you plan for a year, plant rice. If your plan is for a hundred years, educate your children."
And here we have now this story, this news story that America's kids are not doing all that well, shall we say, educationally. With regard to math, 15 year olds in the United States rank near the bottom of industrialized countries in math skills ahead only of Portugal and Mexico and three other nations. Here's the breakdown. Above the United States is Spain, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Germany, France, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, and at the top of the pile, Finland. Below us is Italy and Mexico. The U.S. actually ranked 24th among 29 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which sponsored this study. In a wider group that included 10 non-members, many of them developing nations, the U.S. tied with Latvia for 27th place.
Well, here's how this all relates. I remember when one of our children was not doing well in school and he was 12, 13 years old, something like it. First year of middle school as I recall. And the teachers were all freaking out, and all, you know, all, you know how it goes. And it was that ADD thing, right? Put him on medication! And we actually tried that for a short while. Didn't seem to do much good.
And so we decided to go looking for a school for him, a better school, you know, a better educational environment. Let's find a place where he can flourish, and there were all, we lived in Atlanta at the time, in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Roswell. And there are a bunch of schools in Atlanta in the phone book, twenty, thirty of them, something like that, that, you know, private schools, many of whom advertise that they specialize in kids with Attention Deficit Disorder or learning disabilities, and so Louise and I went shopping. And what we found was that most people were of the opinion that because these kids were impulsive and distractible and not particularly well structured and organized, they "needed lots of discipline and structure. Let's just slap it into 'em."
There was one school we went to where they wanted us to sign a waiver that they could use corporal punishment. The principal had a cane fishing pole, you know, one of those bamboo canes, in his office, in the corner of his office. He said, "See that stick over there?" "Well, yeah." He says, "Kids know it's there you get my meaning, hah hah!" And, you know, I wouldn't be able to succeed in this school. I'm not, you know, I'm not going to inflict this on my child.
And what we found was that the schools that were purporting to be good places for ADHD kids ran the gamut from, on the one hand, the school from hell, to, on the other end of the spectrum, the nazi school from hell. I mean they were, you know, they were like variations on military academies and all this kind of stuff. And some of them were just outrageously expensive as well.
So we ended up putting our son in a, we were looking around at different schools, we finally had given up on all the ADD specialty schools, and we found this school in downtown Atlanta called the Horizon School which was a leftover remnant of the Summerhill experiment in some ways. Part of the alternative school movement. "Summerhill" was a book by A. S. Neill published back in the 1960s as I recall in which they created a school where the kids ran the school. And this school was actually run by the student council in everything except academics. The teachers had final say in academics but the kids had a student council and they ran the school, and they made all kinds of rules for themselves, it was quite remarkable.
And I remember walking into this school. First of all we sat down with the woman who ran the school and I said, "Our son has ADD." And she said, "I will thank", and I was, at that point in time I was in the middle of writing a book, my first book on Attention Deficit Disorder which came out that year, it's called "Attention Deficit Disorder: a Different Perception", it came out in 1992 or 1993. And that book is now, you know, Time Magazine wrote it up, it's sold a quarter of a million copies or something and it's still out there. I still think it's probably one of the best books on ADD that I've written and that I think is out there, actually. And so I was in the middle of doing that, I was real into it, and I said, you know, "Our son has ADD" and she got all bristly. She said, "I will thank you not to use that phrase in my presence again." I said, "Why?" She said, "Because we don't have labels in this school, we have individuals. I will not tolerate any individual child being slapped with a label." You know, I was thinking, "She just doesn't get it." And she said, "And furthermore, we don't want our kids coming to school medicated." And I'm thinking, "He's going to eat them alive".
So then I went out and walked around the school and I remember walking into a classroom. This was seventh graders as I recall, seventh or eighth graders. And it looked like absolute chaos. Kids were not sitting at their desk. They were standing up, they were walking around, one kid was sitting on his desk. There was a kid sitting on the teacher's desk. Kids were running up and marking things on the blackboard. The teacher was having a knock down drag out argument with the kids. And I'm standing at the back of the room and you know, keep in mind, a decade earlier, I'd been the executive director of a program for abused kids that had a school! I was the executive director of a program that contained a school. I suppose you could say I was the principal of the school. And I'm standing in the back of the room, you know, with my arms folded across my chest, thinking, "This is a classroom out of control." This would never happen in a school I ran.
And you know how sometimes when you just listen for a few minutes more, all of a sudden you hear something that completely turns your world upside down, that completely changes the way that you view things. And as I stood there, in this very kind of critical, judging posture, I started listening to what the kids and the teacher were arguing about.
What these kids were arguing with this teacher about was that Einstein had suggested in his theory of relativity e=mc2 that you can't exceed the speed of light. That if you exceed the speed of light, you can get to .999% of the speed of light, but if the value of the speed of light becomes one or one point anything, once you hit or exceed the speed of light, then time becomes infinite and mass collapses to zero. Or is it the other way around? Time collapses to zero and mass becomes infinite. I forget which it was. I used to have memorized the time and mass dilation theories but that was when I was a teenager. Anyway, and therefore it's impossible in the physical universe to exceed the speed of light. You can approach it but you can't exceed it. And if that's the case, these kids were saying, then why is it that Einstein in his own theory of relativity, his oh most famous theory, said e (energy) equals mass times the speed of light squared? e=mc2 (c is the speed of light). How can you square something that can't even have as a value of one? How is that possible? How can you square something you can't exceed? That's, you know, and they are pulling out Einstein's General and Specific theory of relativity and they're talking about his story about being in the train going away from the clock tower in downtown Austria and as the train approaches the speed of light the hands start to slow down and all this stuff.
And all of a sudden, I got it. That all my life, I had thought that education was about pouring things into kids. Yeats's quote. The filling of a bucket. And that what they understood at that school was that education was about lighting a fire. And so we put our son in that school and not only did he do well, but he was doing work two grade levels above his grade level. He was getting As in senior physics as a freshman or a sophomore. He all of a sudden just caught on fire, he fell in love with learning, and all of this with no drugs, which leads us to the question.
You got a person who has a psychiatric illness in a public school that requires medication from a multibillion-dollar industry, but when you put him into an alternative school environment, not only does he not require the medication, but the disease seems to vanish and he does very well. The question is, then, where is the disease? And I have firmly, solidly come to the conclusion that the disease is in our schools. It's not in our kids.
And I'm a big proponent of public education. I believe in public schools and I believe we must reform them. We must change them. And I'm here to tell you, I've done in service training for teachers from Danville, California to Mesquique in Michigan to New York City, and I can tell you, and to Europe, I mean, I've done in service trainings for teachers in England and France and Germany, in Israel, in Sydney, Australia, in Melbourne, and in Cairns, in Lockhart River, Australia, in New Queens, in ah, New South, no in Queensland, and I can tell you. There are the majority of teachers who want it to change too.
And what's happening is that because of the pressure that's coming down from these right-wingers who believe that you just have to make it harder and more rigid. If it ain't working you just do more of it, you do it with greater violence, basically. It is, you know, our teachers are just absolutely having a terrible time trying to repair out broken schools. So there's that. That's in the news today, our kids are 27th in the world, tied with Latvia in math scores.
And then the other story in the news, which I thought was particularly interesting, is that a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, oh I'm sorry, the National Science Foundation, done by researchers at the University of Minnesota, has now come out, this was a peer-reviewed, solid study, just came out and said the same thing that I said in my book in 1992 and that, you know, I nailed down the science for, by the way, in the most recent book, "The Edison Gene" and that is that not only is there nothing wrong with these kids but that they're carrying adaptive behaviors that are highly useful in some environments.
Here's the story, the headline is, "Impulsive behavior may be relict of hunter-gatherer past. Drawing on experiments with blue jays, a team of University of Minnesota researchers has found what may be the evolutionary basis for impulsive behavior. Such behavior may have evolved because in the wild, snatching up small rewards like food morsels rather than waiting for something bigger and better to come along can lead to getting more rewards in the long run. This work" (this scientific study) "may help explain why many modern-day humans find it so hard to turn down an immediate reward - for example, food, money, sex or euphoria - rather than investing and waiting for a bigger reward later. The work will be published in the December 7th issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Science in London."
And they talk about David Stephens, professor of ecology, evolution and behavior at the university’s College of Biological Sciences, did this study with Blue Jays. And he says, what surprised Stephens was that the birds that went for the immediate reward were actually "able to 'earn' as much or more food in the long run as birds who were forced to wait for the larger reward or follow a mixed strategy." When they find a small bit of food, they don’t wait; they just go back to foraging, and they may find lots of little rewards that add up to more than what they would gotten if they had waited around waiting for the big rewards. So that actually, in nature, in many cases, if not in most cases, certainly with Blue Jays in all cases, being impulsive means you get more food and you are more likely to, you know, past your genes along, to be successful as a Blue Jay. The work may, now, that's Blue Jays, OK.
So this guy, this scientist, David Stephens, he says, "The work may apply to humans, because taking rewards without hesitation may have paid off for our foraging ancestors." So here you have it. Now also, of course as I point out in my book, "The Edison Gene", the leading geneticists in the world, including Robert Moyses, one of the guys who was, one of the leaders of the human genome project have come to the conclusion that ADHD is actually a positive, beneficial genetic variation, not a disease. It is a difference, and people are born with it, but it's a positive one, a useful one. It's associated with creativity. Thomas Edison was the poster child for this. Associated with creativity, ingenuity, energy, enthusiasm, relentlessness, and frankly I think it makes pretty good talk show hosts. My own plug for ADD. I hope you think so too. ...
... Song: "Talking about freedom (I would like to know you) Talking about freedom oh let me go." 'Til we get a freedom for our kids in schools as well. "Ah, it's liberal policies with regard to education." Yeah, it turns out they work better.
You know, in Sweden kids don't actually start to learn to read until they are 7 years old. They graduate from high school when they are 16 and they consistently outperform Americans right across the board. Why would that be? Well, 'cause they have an educational system that is flexible and it works.
Here's, you know the way that our school system got started was the, Horace Mann who was this guy back in the late eighteen hundreds. The Germans, actually in the late seventeen hundreds, the Germans started these things called Spinnenschules which is where the local nobles would set up a factory to spin cloth, to spin fabric, thread and local children could work in them and if they worked half a day they would get educated half a day and so people would send their kids to work in exchange for education. And this eventually evolved after the battle of Jena, eighteen oh, what was it, 1809 I think it was, when, or 1806 [yes, 1806 - ed.], whenever it was, early, than when Napoleon kicked butt of the Prussians.
They went to Fichte, a famous German philosopher, and said, "How do we solve this problem, how can we create an army that can beat Napoleon?" And he said, "You stifle dissent in your schools. You create schools where different classes are taught, different topics are taught by different instructors". So you have, instead of holistic thinkers, you have linear thinkers. You have people who think in the box rather than seeing everything, you know, all at once. You know, people no longer see the interconnection. You teach obedience. You force children to raise their hand and say "May I ask a question" before they even ask the question. So even asking a question becomes a two step process.
And Horace Mann tried to bring this to the United States. He went over there, paid his five hundred dollars, got his PhD, that was the fashionable thing. And came back and started pushing this thing and he couldn't get any communities to go for it until finally Boston which was having this problem. The Protestants had taken over Massachusetts and had taken over Boston and the Catholics were rising up in power because all these Catholics had come over from the potato famine. And they wanted to break the back of the Catholic community. So the city fathers in Massachusetts said, "OK, we'll try it, we'll institute public education."
And it's based on the model of a factory. Running kids along an assembly line and those that don't fit get pushed off the belt. And, you know, according to Horace Mann, it was a great idea. Educate a class of kids who would make good factory workers and arguably it was, but we don't need good factory workers any more. We need holistic thinkers. It's time for us to be reforming our educational system. And this bunch, the right-wingers, are working absolutely against that, and its a shame. It's a real shame. ...
Charles Erinprice? (68:30 etc.)
Spelling of Clark? (76:00 etc.)
Focus on odds? (80:00)
Where in Michigan - Mesquique? (106:30)
Cairns Australia? (Google says it is pronounced "cans")(106:30)
Spelling of Moyses? (110:00 )
Thom Hartmann program, 08 December 2004
... And welcome back my friends, the second hour of our, well, today is the Wednesday show, but we're going to take our Tuesday cue here today. Today the 8th of December. And do, what is it now, our 4th, I think, lesson in neurolinguistic programming? We're going to talk about this stuff for maybe 15, 20 minutes. We're going to take a break from it at 25 minutes after the hour. We'll be hearing from the Talk Radio News Service with a report from Washington, D.C. and no doubt an update on how the hearings are going before congress, before John Conyers' committee, before Congress, about the voting problems in Florida and elsewhere. And we'll get that report at 25 after. And then at the bottom of the hour we'll come back to this a little bit. Then we'll get back into the rest of the news for the day. So that's our hour for this hour and in the next hour, 'Is America really divided?' We've got a fascinating guest who's going to be on in the next hour, suggesting, there's this whole thing about red States and blue States is a bunch of hooey! Let you make up your own mind on that.
A Los Angeles Times exit poll, an LA Times exit poll right after the election asked voters what most influenced their choice when they voted. 24% said the person that they voted for, they voted for because he shared their values, for president. But 55% said that the person they voted for, they voted for, this is John Kerry and George W Bush and Badnarik and David Cobb, and you know, right across the board. 55% said that they voted for the person they perceived as the strong leader.
Now had the media gotten hold of that poll before they got a hold of the poll that said that 20 some odd percent to 22% of people said that they chose moral values. 20% choose the economy or jobs, 19% chose terrorism, we would not be having discussions right now about whether, you know, Falwell wouldn't be being featured on TV shows, whether, you know, morality is an issue in America. Instead we'd be having a discussion about "Why was it that, or how was it that George W Bush portrayed himself as a strong leader when in fact, you know, 9/11 happened on his watch, he screwed up the war in Iraq?", you know, things like that. His attempts at leadership have by and large all failed. And why didn't John Kerry more effectively communicate that he was a strong leader, to flip at least 70,000 votes in the State of Ohio, assuming that they weren't flipped by a machine. We would be having a different discussion.
What this highlights is the power of framing which we talked about last week or the week before. And I just want to bring back that for just a second, just to touch on that. And then take it a step further. Let's dig a layer deeper into this stuff. Let's both chunk up and chunk down. Let's look at a little more detail and yet get a good grip here on a larger story.
The predicate, the neurolinguistic programming predicate that we are going to talk about today, the assumption is that the meaning of communication is the response you get. You'll say, "What does that mean?" Well what that, see, there. If you said, "What does that mean?", then what I just communicated was confusion. In other words, you may say something to somebody and think you're saying ABC, but they respond to you as if you said XYZ, what was communicated? The reality is that what was communicated was XYZ because that's what they thought they heard. You getting this? So the meaning of communication is not what you say or what you think or what you what you have in mind or what you intend, it's what the other person gets. Now this is true in politics. It's true in debate. It's true in business. It's true in our personal lives.
And I'm going to start out with a personal example of this so that you get it, you can see how it works, you get the story of it, you can grab hold of it. And then we're going to expand that out into how politicians can use this, how a political party can use this, and how you and I can use this in having conversations with people about anything from politics to religion, anything else you want to discuss with somebody, where you want to have good, clean, open, honest, straightforward communication that actually works, because that is really what neurolinguistic programming is all about. It really is all about truly effective communication.
And here's the bottom line. We never know what another person is feeling or experiencing or thinking. We never know. We can only make guesses based on our observation of their behavior. I've been married to Louise for, what, 32 years? I'll never know for sure if she really loves me, for example. I can observe her behavior and make an assumption and it's probably accurate but I can't get inside her head. Nobody can. >We don't have, we're not telepaths. In fact the only system that we have to actually get inside the mind of another person is called the novel. Fiction. Which is why fiction endures, it's why novels are so popular, why people are still reading. Can't do it with movies. Can't do it with TV, 'cause there you're having to observe peoples' behavior. And you can't do it in real life. You can only do it in the novel. So you actually get inside somebody else's head.
So, because we can't get inside somebody else's head, we have to guess as to the meaning of their behaviors. Similarly, other people are guessing as to the meaning of our behaviors. So if we want to be effective communicators we want to make sure that our behavior communicates what we intend for it to communicate, right? This all sounds pretty straightforward. But it's going to get complicated in a minute in a way that is, you're going to get one of these incredible "ah hahs'. But just to understand, this is the basis of social interactions and relationships. It's the quality of our ability to guess correctly that will always have impact on the quality of our relationships. So of course, we want to improve that. You want to improve your guessing ability.
And one of the easiest ways to do that is to simply ask questions. "Did I just hear you say ... ABC?" "Did you mean to say ABC?" "Is that what you were really talking about?" Because, again, to make this a personal example just for a minute. The reality is that you'll never know if somebody loves you, you'll just know if they behave like they do, which gives you the feeling, and ultimately the certainty, over time that they do. But what if somebody really does love you, but you don't feel it or know it? Or what if you love somebody and they don't know it or feel it? And to take this in to the political realm, what if a politician has the very best and most honest intentions and goals totally congruent with the voters, but the voters don't know it or believe it. How can that politician get that message across?
First let's look at the personal dimension of this. I just, tell you a story. Louise and I took this class in NLP from a fellow by the name of Leif Roland who runs the NLP Center of Atlanta. This was back 15 years ago, maybe, thereabouts. And Leif was a student of Christina Hall who was a student of Richard Bandler who ..., after taking Leif's course I took a NLP trainer's training from Richard Bandler and Richard wrote the foreword to my book 'Healing ADD' which is a book about neurolinguistic programming. And so, anyhow, we're in this class and it was like one of these kind of 6 months things where every weekend you know you'd hang out with these folks.
We're in this class. And Leif, the instructor, he's Danish as I recall, Leif turns to me and says, "Thom, how do you know when to know that you know that Louise really loves you? How do you know when to know - in other words, what's the trigger, what's the thing that happens, that says, "Oh, now I know"? How do you know when to know that you know - that gives me some certainty - that Louise really loves me? And I said, "Well that's really easy." And I'm telling this story, by the way, with her permission. I said, "That's really easy - it's when she touches me."
You know, now you can psychoanalyze that to death. Was it because, you know, his mother carried him around a lot when he was a baby, or didn't enough? Frankly I would argue towards the former. My mother was a very affectionate, and still is, very affectionate person. But, or is it how my DNA is wired, or is it the first girlfriend I that had was like...? I don't have any idea. It doesn't matter. This is where analysis breaks down, in my opinion, and so much of psychology breaks down. The reality is, that when somebody touches me, I feel like I am loved. Total stranger could walk up and put their hand on my arm and it would cause me to immediately feel a little better, and when Louise touches me or hugs me or kisses me or something like that, I feel "Hey! I know for sure that she loves me".
So then he turns to Louise, and he says to Louise, "Louise, how do you know when to know that you know that Thom loves you?" And I'm sitting there, waiting for her to say. "Oh, when he hugs me, kisses me, touches me." 'Cause that's how I know that I'm loved, right? And she says, "When we have coffee together in the morning and talk about the day and talk about the things that are really important to us." And I'm sitting there going, "What?" I've been trying to get out of this for 15 years, this coffee in the morning thing. I never understood it. What's the big deal? And she's saying that this is how she knows I love her? And I said, "But, what about when I touch you? What about when I kiss you?" You know, stuff. She says, "Well, that's all fine, but, you know, I really know that you love me when you have coffee with me in the morning and we talk about the day." And it was one of those epiphanous moments when I suddenly realized that the way I experienced the world was not the way other people, specifically my wife, experienced the world. And two really interesting things came out of this, and again this is the personal story side of it, we'll generalize this to politics after the break at the bottom of the hour and get into how politicians can do this. What the ways are that you can use this in a political context.
But the two things that came out of this: number 1, Louise and I made a deal. She'll touch me more, I'll have breakfast, I'll have coffee with her every morning and we'll talk, and it was one of the most powerful and positive things that has happened in all the 30+ years that we have been married. And we still do it. We did it this morning. So, it seemed like a pretty good deal.
The other thing was we sat down with our three kids, and all three of our kids were living at home at the time. They're all grown up and moved away, now. And we said, "How do you know that we love you? What is it that we do that makes you feel loved?" And it was just amazing. One of our kids said, "When you tell me you love me." Another one of our kids said, "When you teach me things." This was the one of our children that had demanded that we home school her, and we did. And she still to this day, she will call with questions about science and things. That's how she knows she is loved, when we teach her things. And the third one, we said, you know, "How do you know that you are loved?" And he said, "When you take me out to breakfast alone." And I had been resisting that all through his childhood. I thought he was playing some kind of, you know, funny mind games, sibling rivalry with his sisters. No, that's how he knows that he's loved. And so now, he comes to visit, I say, "Hey, let's go to breakfast." Boom! He's out of bed at 6 o'clock in the morning. Even if he was out until 3 in the morning at the local bar. Once you know how people, you know, what makes people feel good, then you can do it for them. Isn't that a cool idea? Let's take that to politics after the break. ...
... song: "You see everything, you see every part" And welcome back. "You see all my light" See, that's the challenge. "and you love my dark" That's what we've been talking about. How can you get inside another person's head? You can't. You can only observe it from the outside.
Just a quick note. Rob Kall from OpEdNews.com was motivated to call, and he wanted to share something with, hey Rob, welcome to the program. "Hey Thom, I just wanted to remind you and your listeners that you will be giving workshops on NLP at the conferences that I run in February in Palm Springs, February 5th and 6th you'll be doing workshops there in the Winter Brain conference, the StoryCon conference and the Optimal Functioning & Positive Psychology meeting that all run simultaneously and people can find out about it at http://www.brainmeeting.com/index.html. Brain Meeting dot com." Great, thanks.
"You've been to those things. What do you think of them, Thom?" Thanks for the shameless plug, Rob. I love those meetings. I've said before, and you can quote me: the Winter Brain conference, which I've been speaking at, for what, 8 years now, something like that? "That's going to be 10." Ten years, is the only, and I speak at conferences from neurology conferences to psychology conferences to education conferences. I keynoted the Montessori conference the year before last. I mean, I do a lot of that stuff. I did a lot more before we started doing this radio show, but I still do some of it. And your conference is the only conference that I would pay to attend, you know, I am very fortunate that because I speak, you know, I don't have to pay to attend, but it's the only one of all the conferences where people bring me in to speak where I would actually show up even if I wasn't a speaker. I'm very grateful for what you're doing Rob, you do great work. So, thanks for that and the web site again was... "brainmeeting.com, http://www.brainmeeting.com/index.html" Brainmeeting.com. Thanks a lot, Rob. That's Rob Kall of OpEdNews.com, another great web site as well. Rob, thanks for the call. Let's go to Victoria Jones ...
... We'll be back with our NLP lesson, our neurolinguistic programming lesson, for the day right after this. Stick around. Thom Hartmann here with you. ...
... song: "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad" Ah see, that's the key, figuring out what is it that makes somebody else happy. I remember back in it must have been like 1980 or something, remember EST, Warner Erhart and all that general craziness, and there was this slogan that came out of EST that really summarized this very, very well. And it was something to the effect of "I'll never know or I don't care if you really love me, just keep bringing the flowers". And because the reality is, as I mentioned in the first half hour of this particular hour of our show, our NLP lesson for the day, for the week, that we can never know what's actually going on inside another person's mind or heart. We can only observe from the outside and make guesses based on what we are observing.
And therefore, what has to be is that the meaning of a communication is not what you say; it's the response you get from the other person. You know, it takes two to tango, and all that. Well, it takes two to communicate. And if you want to know what it is you actually communicated, ask the other person and, you know, they will tell you. So, excuse me, so how do politicians do this? This is a big challenge for politicians. How do you know that the people really know that you really care about them, if you are a politician. How does a political party make use of this? Make use of this fact, that it's not your intent that matters, it's not even how you communicate your intent that matters, it's whether or not people on the receiving end of the communication get your intent that matters. So here's a couple of ways to make this more practical in the context of politics.
Number one: communicate in their language, that is, in the language of the person who is going to receive it. Now we talked a couple of weeks ago about visual, auditory, kinesthetic people, stuff like that. Of course, you want your message to be multimodal. You want to talk in terms of pictures, you want to talk in terms of stories, you want to talk in terms of feelings, you want to do all those things, of course. But even more important in the context of talking in someone else's language, in the language of the person who's receiving the message, is this old marketing notion of benefits versus features.
I used to teach this stuff, you know, for a living, back in the ad agency days, and this is the key to it, this is how it works, this is one of the big pieces. There are benefits and there are features and they are different, and most people when they're trying to communicate something don't understand the difference between these two and they go really heavy on one or the other and therefore their communication fails. Particularly in mass communication. Particularly in political communication although also in commerce. But this is even truer in relationships. But you can, we've already discussed relationships to some extent with this regard.
But here's what the difference is between a benefit and a feature. A benefit answers the question "What's in it for me?" What's in it for me? If you can answer that question, that's a benefit. I'm going to lose weight. I'm going to feel better. I'm going to smile more. I'm going to, er have safety in my old age. That's a benefit. That's a, those are the , if it answers the question "What's in it for me?", it's a benefit.
If it answers the question, "How does that work?" then it's a feature. "How you gonna do that?" That's a feature. "Well, we're going to the cap on social security. Right now, nobody has to pay social security taxes, FICA taxes, on anything over the first 87,000 dollars that they pay or that they earn, and we're just going to raise that cap from 87,000 dollars to 150,000 dollars or to a million dollars, or to a billion dollars, we're going to eliminate the cap so even millionaires are still paying into the social security trust fund. And therefore we are going to make social security solvent for all of history, all into the future." And that's really all it would take. Well, that's a feature. Right, that explains how it works.
And here's the amazing thing. You've got a lot of wonks, you know, like Al Gore, "Let's put social security in a lock box." It's a feature. It's a 'how we're going to do it'. And he didn't connect it to a benefit. Here's the bottom line. Benefits without features are never believed. If I say to you, "I'm going to make sure you're safe in your old age" and then just stop there and don't tell you how, you're not going to believe it.
Benefits without features have no credibility. Features without benefits have no relevance. They elicit the response, "So what?" Right, if I say, "Yeah, we're going to eliminate the cap on FICA so even millionaires and billionaires are paying social security taxes on their income. You say, "So? What does that have to do with me?"
So, features without benefits lack relevance, benefits without features lack credibility. Any effective communication must have both relevance and credibility. It must answer the question, "What's in it for me?" and it must answer the question, "And how are you going to do that?" And it must do it all at the same time. And I'm telling you, the Cons have been masters at this kind of packaging going all the way back to when Newt Gingrich first started using NLP in his "Contract with America", and Frank Lunz. These guys, Gingrich and Lunz, are masters at this stuff. Packaging things in a way that said, you now, "we are going to make life better, and here's how." And "here's how" does not have to be incredibly detailed. It can be, "and here's the 10 steps we call the "Contract with America" and here's these laws that we want to pass". And you go through the "Contract with America" and you discover that about six of the 10 points, as I recall, all boil down to tax cuts for the rich. But it didn't matter because there was a, there appeared to be a there there. There appeared to be some, an impact. There was this belief that if you gave tax cuts to the rich that it would make America more prosperous. Turns out not to have worked that way as, you know, rational economists have been pointing out for quite some time now, but in any case, you must have both, features and benefits.
So, whenever you are talking about anything, or you're trying to convince somebody of something, ask yourself the question from their point of view, how can I make this relevant to them? How can I, from their point of view, how can I bring this into the realm of, "Oh, that's what this means to me".
For example. One of my, one of the issues that we talk about on this program from time to time is this conflation of church and state, the merging of church and state that is so beloved, the idea of it so beloved by so many so-called conservatives. In my opinion the danger that this represents is not so much in that the church would take over the state because frankly I think that, you know, half way into the new inquisition you'd have so much blowback from Americans that it would stop. The danger, and you're already seeing it, I mean, these just little tiny incursions where church groups are trying to, you know, they're putting little stickers in books that say, you know, "evolution's just a theory". They're already getting blowback. I'm not frankly so worried about churches taking over state in the United States. I know, they're trying, they've been trying for 200 years. But I'm not real worried about it. My concern, and this oddly, or ironically, or whatever, this was the main concern of James Madison. My concern, and the founders' concern, is that if churches and state get into bed together it's going to corrupt the church; that the churches will be corrupted by that access to power and wealth, and they will lose track of their mission, which I think probably most people would agree, is to provide solace, or salvation, or help or, you know, however you want to define it to people.
So if I'm talking to somebody and they're saying, you know, we need to have more church in state I would be wanting to say, you know, the question, you ask the question, "How can I make this relevant to them?" I'd say, "Do you attend the church?" "Are you involved in a religion?" "Are you a believer in a religion?" "Aren't you concerned?" and presumably they'd say yes, and you say, "Well, aren't you concerned that if your religion ends up getting these laws passed, that it wants to have passed, that one of two things might happen? Number one that your religious leaders might get so in love with political power that they lose track of their religion, that they lose, that they're no longer, that they're now, you know, popes, they're now theocrats?" That's the weaker argument, you know, thinking people will go yeah, that's a legitimate concern, but many people won't.
Then you say, "Or aren't you concerned that if your religion can get laws passed, other religions can get laws passed, and what happens when the Moonies decide to get into the act?" Ah, you know Reverend Moon owns the Washington Times, he owns United Press International, he makes huge contributions to the Republican Party, He's one of the largest financial patrons to both George Bush senior and George Bush junior, and he has claimed that he is the Messiah. That he is the Messiah. Forget about Jesus coming back to the Earth, Reverend Moon is the Messiah. He's already here. Aren't you a little concerned if churches start running the state, with what's going to happen when another church, not yours, gets in there? Or the church of the Wiccans? Or the church of the, you know, the church of the gooey deaf God Stamp Redemption Center?" I mean, fill in the blank. So. Make it relevant. Features and benefits.
Number two: Show, don't tell.
Again, this is back to this issue of how politicians, this is one uniquely for politicians, here's my advice to John Kerry, Howard Dean, you know, on the list goes. Show, don't tell. We want to know that what you are talking about doing is something that you are actually doing.
Here's this, for example, here's this news story, today's Associated Press. Article by Marc Humbert. "New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose white-collar crime investigations have sent a shudder through Wall Street, announced Tuesday he is running for governor in 2006." Now, I mean, you know, Republicans for a long, long time have been saying, you know, this guy, he's the Attorney General, also known as AG. They've been making jokes forever that AG stands for aspiring governor, right?
And they've been cynically saying, "Well, Eliot Spitzer is only going after these corporate fat cats and corporate corruption and corporate crime because he wants to get publicity because he wants to run for governor." Same way people were saying that Rudi Giuliani, when he was the prosecutor for New York City was going after - the head prosecutor, whatever he, prosecuting attorney for New York City - was going after the Head Shops, and was going after the sex stores and all this stuff and was, you know, cracking down on crime in New York City back in the 80s. And he really was. He was really rip-roaring going to town. "He's just doing that because he wants to run for mayor". Of course, that's what the cynics say, and there may be some truth to it.
But the reality is that what these guys were doing, what Giuliani, the Republican, did as prosecutor, and what Spitzer the Attorney General is doing right now, both of them aspiring to higher office, what they're doing is they're showing voters what they're all about. And what the voters can expect them to be about and expect them to be doing if and when they become elected into the next office up. And, you know, I think that, you know, one of the criticisms of John Kerry that was made by the Republicans that stuck a little more than a lot, frankly, I think, was that he didn't have legislative signature accomplishments for his twenty years in the Legislature. Now we know that he did some marvelous things. His BCCI investigation was absolutely mind-boggling. Now you go back and look at that. This guy as a prosecuting attorney, or as a prosecutor and investigator, John Kerry is one of the finest in history and in the Senate he played that role brilliantly. But the Republicans came along and said, "But there's not really, you know, this long legislative history that shows what he would do if he was president. He hasn't initiated great things. I mean, if Newt Gingrich was running for president you'd, you know, if he hadn't gotten caught with his, you know his, into his second wife with his third girlfriend, you know, metaphorically. He might have, who knows. But if Newt was running for president you'd know what he was about because he tried to do those things when he was in the Legislature.
So, here's the advice to politicians. Don't just talk about it, start doing it, even at the smallest level, even at a local level, whatever it may be. Don't be afraid of those people who say "Oh he's just trying, he's just grandstanding". OK.
Number three. Ask for feedback, This is really important for politicians and for anybody who wants to argue about politics. Bernie Sanders, Congressman Bernie Sanders, one of the most progressive members of Congress, consistently wins the most conservative rural districts in the State of Vermont year after year after year. Why? Because he does, I don't know, 50, 60 town meetings every single year in this state. Every week he's in a different town having a "tell me", and he's asking for feedback. Pat Leahy, six years ago, went around the state with Fred Tuttle, who was his Republican opponent. And they had cookies and coffee with Pat and Fred in every little coffee shop in the state. Ask for feedback.
And finally, campaign 365 days a year. Be out there, be active, and call for action. You do those things, you will win politically. Ten minutes before the hour. ...
... song: "who by powder, who for his greed, who for his hunger, and who shall I say is calling?" And so to wrap up our NLP lesson for the week, here in the second hour of our program Our normal Tuesday segment here being held on Wednesday. Another week when "Which day of the week is it today?" No, we sort of planned it this way. Anyway, to wrap this up.
Number one, always try, when you're talking with other people about politics, always try to use simple frames. Straightforward, easy to understand terms or phrases. A simple framework to encapsulate your information and be sure that that frame includes a benefit. That it explicitly, not implicitly, not sort of implies it, but it explicitly, that it says right straight out, "Here's how this is going to help you. This is why you should care about this. It's not just an abstract principle, here's where the rubber meets the road."
Number one, talk in terms of benefits and always use a frame. Number two: find areas of common values to start from in the discussion and frame in the context of those. You've heard me, when I've had Conservatives on this program, I'll start out very often by saying, "You know, I'm sure that you and I both want a strong country, we both love our country, we both want our children to grow up in a nation where they will have the opportunities that we had as young people, we want them to be as safe as we were, and in fact even safer. Now, let's talk about the areas where we disagree about how to accomplish those goals." As soon as you start from that point, from the commonality, it becomes, the discussion becomes one of problem-solving, perhaps by different means, rather than arguing. Because when people perceive something as just an argument they dig their heels in.
Again, the meaning of a communication is the response you get. And if somebody is digging in their heels, what they are hearing from you is not benefit or even feature. What they are hearing from you is something that they're imagining to be a negative. "Oh, he must be a liberal," or, "He must be weak on defense." Whatever, right? They're hearing something that you are not actually intending to communicate. So be explicit.
Number 3: ask for feedback. Don't assume you're getting the response you are getting. Politicians need to be talking to the people constantly. We need to be talking to each other. Ask people, "How, can you tell me what I just told you, explain it to me in a way, or another way. Do you see any other application?" So you get some sense that they got what you are talking about. And number 4: always call for action. Always end with a "And therefore we should... And therefore we must get politically involved." Amen.
... Diane in Grand Rapids on the line. Hey Diane, welcome to the program. "Hi, Thom. I'd like to comment on something you said yesterday, because I can't always comment, I can't always call when you say something, but it always makes me think." OK. "Yesterday, it was yesterday or the day before, you were talking about how you took your son to school, to come out of regular school and into a better school a non-Horace Mann school and he thrived?" Mm-hmm. "Well, I sort of did a similar thing when my kids were young, I took them out of school because I determined that schools were really harmful to young people and they thrived and they were doing great and I met the entire, there was this entire web of home schooling communities, of people who were like-minded and doing the same thing. And I remember being at a homes chool meeting of home school parents and looking around and realizing, this was, you know, 20 years ago, that the right wing was going to take over, because all of the home school movement was right wing, and me."
Well, here's the interesting change that's happened, Diane. In the 1970s, as I recall, I wrote about this in my last book on ADHD, "The Edison Gene'. In the 1970s, roughly 90% of home school children were being home schooled because of religious reasons. "Mm-hmm." In the year 2000, more than 60% of home school children were being home schooled because their parents felt it was a better academic option than public or private schools. So, it's completely changed. "Oh, that's good." It's completely changed. "So hopefully the right wing's takeover was only temporary, now that we'll get more non-programmed kids" Yeah. "That are not necessarily right wing into the mix."
Well, it's and not even so much right wing as in political, it's conservative religious, and what has happened is that the conservative religious number one have started creating their own private schools, more and more, just like the Catholics did long ago, and, you know, those remnants are still around and number two, and perhaps most alarming, is that they are now trying to take control of the public school systems. "Right, well that will mean that they'll be at a disadvantage because their kids will stop being home schooled and start being schooled."
But see, the reality is a lot of people can't afford to home school. I mean, We were able to put Justin in a public school because at the time, you know, I ran an advertising agency, I was making good money. And we could afford to do that. Most Americans, it's a real challenge. They don't, you know, they have to, that's not an option, I think, for the majority. "It depends on your priorities." Yeah, certainly it does, it does. But, you know, if you've got a situation where you've got both parents working, as with our youngest when we were home schooling her, it's a difficult one. It's a difficult one. So we have to have, in my opinion, Diane, we have to have a good public education system. We just have to fix it. Diane, thanks for the call. ...
Los Angeles Times exit polls (register)
The BCCI Affair - penultimate draft