Tuesday, February 5, 2013


A Concept from NLP for Analyzing Problems and Interpreting Behaviour 

In order to get a holistic view of a situation, or see the “big picture”, sometimes, there is a need to view things from a distance . 

They say that you cannot solve a problem if you are a part of the problem.

So you must “step out” of the problem and view the situation from outside in a detached dispassionate way.

This may help you in analyzing the problem properly and help you in arriving at a solution. 

In your personal life too it may be of great advantage if you develop the ability to watch your own life from a distance.

In fact, the ability to see things from a distance is the sine qua non for self improvement and personal development. 

Think about it. 

If you are in the middle of trees you may not be able to see the whole forest.

Likewise, being in the middle of a situation may prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

Tell me, in the personal and professional domains of your life, haven't you encountered situations where it would have been best to adopt a “detached” stance?

Is it not better to view a situation from multiple perspectives?

Is it not true, what I said earlier, that you cannot solve a problem if you are a part of the problem, especially an ethical dilemma.

I am sure you have heard people saying, “If I were in your position” or “I can see your point of view”.
Have you ever put yourself in someone else’s shoes and had the experience of seeing the world or situation through the eyes of someone else?
Have you ever tried to be an observer, detached and rational, and looked at a situation as if you are not a part of it?
Understanding and empathizing with other points of view is the sine qua non of effective communication.
Also, it is said, that to solve a problem you should not be a part of the problem or inside the problem, but view the problem from a distance.
The Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) concept of Perceptual Positions can help you see a situation, a problem, from different points of view, in new ways, dispassionately, from a “distance”, with emotional detachment. 

It will help you get the “bigger picture” maybe even the “the holistic picture”. 

You will be able to visualize and analyse a situation, especially an ethical dilemma, form the viewpoints of all stakeholders.
Yes, the first step towards solving a problem is to properly analyse the problem, get to the root cause, and this technique of perceptual positions will help you do formulate the root definition of the problem or ethical situation and facilitate implementation of Soft System Methodology, especially in the formulation of the CATWOE and SIPOC models, which is the next step in solving the problem.


My Perspective or the Self Perspective 
Seeing the situation or world completely through your own eyes. 

The first position enables you to be clear about what is important to you and discover your own personal values and beliefs. 

If you are in the first position you are very much within your own body and you are subject to strong emotional feelings. 

In NLP parlance the experience of being in the first position is called being “associated”.

The disadvantages of being associated are that it may be difficult to critically review your own feelings and sometimes you can get swayed by your own emotions. 

The advantage of being associated is that you feel involved in the situation.


Your Perspective or the “Other” Perspective  
Seeing the situation or world from through the eyes of and from the point of view of someone else. 

This perceptual position will help you get into the other person’s shoes and get a sense of their perspective and how they see the situation. 

In common parlance, this is called empathy.  

In NLP parlance the experience of being in the second position is called being “dissociated”.

This is because, in contrast to the first position you are able to be detached and you are able to observe yourself from a different perspective. 

The disadvantage of being in a dissociated state is that it can desensitize your emotional responses and give others the impression that you are being cold and distant.


The Observer Position 
Looking at a situation as an external impartial observer dissociated and emotionally detached from the situation. 

This perceptual position will enable you to have a balanced approach, especially in emotionally charged situations. 

This entails both the individual and with whom she is interacting being observed at the same time from a distant position, outside all persons in the interaction - you may step back and “watch yourself watch yourself” – it is like seeing the situation on a movie screen.


The System Viewpoint or the Bird’s Eye View 
Adopting a “systems approach” and looking at a situation from the perspective of the whole system, integrating perspectives of all stakeholders in the system using soft systems methodology in order to visualize the overall “system perspective”.


The Universal Perspective or the World View (Weltanschauung
Seeing the “whole picture” by analyzing multiple perceptual positions. This is a most vital soft skill you must develop using various soft system models like CATWOE, Archetypes etc.


Close your eyes and think of various recent situations, especially situations of conflict, and the try to visualize the situations from different perceptual positions. 
You can consciously develop the ability to visualize and adopt different perceptual positions – not only will this help you improve your conflict management and decision making abilities but this will greatly enhance your communication skills.

You must be flexible and try to move between perceptual positions in a dynamic manner to achieve optimal results.

Spending too much time in the first perceptual position may lead you to be excessively emotional, self-centered and lacking in empathy.

Always trying to be in the second perceptual position may result in you falling a victim to the “disease to please” leading to overemphasis in helping others to the detriment of your own interests and personal well-being.

Spending too much time in the third perceptual position may make you cold, hard-hearted, uncaring and insensitive towards others, so you must always try and develop the flexibility and agility to see different points of view from various perceptual positions.

Therefore, it is best to adopt a Triple Description which entails considering the situation from the three basic perceptual positions – the first, the second and the third – and combining the experience
In the words of Robert Dilts:

Excellence is a passionate commitment to something from the self position.

Wisdom is the ability to consciously move back and forth between self, other, and observer positions.”

As you consciously practice the concept of perceptual positions you will develop the ability of creative visualization to shift between perceptual positions at will.

In some situations you can experiment shifting between all the five perceptual positions and when you combine the experience this will develop in you statesmanlike qualities which all great leaders possess.

This “multiple description” ability to shift between perceptual positions and combine the experience will enhance your resourceful thinking process and enhance your ability to deal effectively and positively with a variety of people and situations.

On a lighter note, this concept will help you in personal life situations too, especially as you grow older. 

The Perceptual Positions Concept is useful to retired “old fogies” like me as well:

You must have observed that, as you grow older, slowly but surely, you are made to feel redundant.

Your views are not sought and you are relegated to a position of an observer. 

It is great to be an “distant”observer.

Looking at situations from different points of view by adopting perceptual positions will make you enjoy various situations. 

And this will certainly help you in ascertaining divergent ethical perspectives of various stakeholders for ethical analysis in an ethical situation.
Let me paraphrase one of my favorite quotes:

If you want to be seen, stand up

If you want to be heard, speak up

If you want to be appreciated, shut up ...  and appreciate the situation using the technique of perceptual positions.

Try out this NLP concept of Perceptual Positions in your daily life, at work, at home, everywhere, even while roaming on the streets

You will be amazed by the results.

Have a Happy Wednesday.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
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Unknown said...

Your post is really very interesting and I enjoyed a lot and today I learned new concepts of how to see a problem and different point of views. I too doing a NLP course and have adeep interest in NLP. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

Unknown said...

I really enjoy NLPs and motivational talks they spark something inside me that makes me believe that I can be better if I believe.

It really amazes me how experts of NLP or motivational speakers talk, they really put me in the situation that I will listen to what they say.

By: Hitting the Wall