This is one of many tools you can use either in a process by yourself, or more effectively with a coach. Its particularly useful for situations between two people, e.g. two colleagues. It can also be used in a one to many situations too. E.g. as part of a wider process to coach someone that may have a fear of presenting to an audience.
This simple, but very powerful technique is easy to do, can be fun – great fun, and will provide surprisingly good insights in a just a few minutes.
There are three positions to consider, that is points of view. You (or your client if you are the coach), the other person in the context being considered and an observer.
Position 1. You as you. Be aware of what you are seeing, hearing and feeling as yourself. This is just you being you and being fully present with the situation where you would like more choice or resources.
Position 2. You as another. Now take the position of the other person in this situation – it could be a boss, a partner, a colleague, a friend, anyone. Be this person. Let your creative juices flow and see, hear and feel the situation as though you are them. What is there intention and the positive outcome they want in this situation. How do they see, hear and feel from their perspective?
Position 3. The independent review. Now take the position (and really move, stand someone else, or switch seats, as you should also have done for positions 1 to 2). In the third position review positions 1 and 2 and observe what you see, hear and feel as an independent reviewer.
You now have three perspectives. Your initial view, that of the other person involved in this scenario and the independent reviewer. What have you learnt, what can you implement to fulfil the best positive intention for this scenario?
This is the magic of this exercise for coaching. Allow your clients to really consume what they have learned from adopting the different positions and perspectives.
Coaching with Perceptual Positions
I have coached people through this exercise and invariably they are really very surprised at the great results. They get new insights they simply had not considered before.
Without knowing for sure, it is my view that the behemoths of NLP and Generative Change, that I have trained with (Frank Pucelik ,John Grinder, Stephen Gilligan) very naturally use a very strong 2nd position when dealing with their clients and helping them make the changes that the client want. I think they consider their clients perspective on a very deep level. Probably having accumulated that skill over several decades. I’m working on it!
Professional Life Coach
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