The training was near Hammersmith in London and at the beginning of each day we would go for a cappuccino and a bacon sandwich at a little Turkish coffee shop nearby. Although the training modules were several months apart, on seeing us enter at the beginning of a new module the owner would always recall our order – one sandwich on white, one brown, one without butter etc.
That coffee shop has sadly gone now, but that experience still anchors me to that time of learning, and I doubt the owner and his cheery waitress have any knowledge of how much that stays in my memory.
It serves to remind me that interactions between human beings can sometimes have more importance than their seemingly ‘low level’ content might suggest; they can carry more meaning than those involved at the time might ever realise; the spoken word or behaviour may have a completely different result or impact to that intended at the time – indeed one NLP presupposition is that the meaning of the communication is the result it elicits, not necessarily the one the giver intended.
Every day, all day, we give out communication, consciously and unconsciously. Everyone we meet takes their own meaning from that, even if several people experience the same ‘message’, each will create their own meaning.
In our early years, much of this gives rise to our beliefs about the world. Some of that serves us well in later life. Some does not.
The parent with the adolescent child, studying for their exams, will doubtless have the best intention to support them. Comments such as ‘never mind, you did your best’ or ‘all you can do is try’, have positive intentions. Yet I have seen such people in the middle of their lives, still running a belief that ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I have to work hard’ or even a more complex belief such as ‘If I don’t succeed nobody will love me’.
Spoiler alert: you probably believed in Father Christmas when you were small. Your parents span the yarn. It served you to believe – you got toys, chocolate, the excitement of presents to unwrap, and as a child that’s desirable. My guess is most of you no longer believe in Father Christmas.
The meaning we take at one point in our lives doesn’t have to be the meaning we live with. Trying hard when you’re 15 might be useful – please a parent, pass an exam. Trying hard later in life, when your work life balance is out of kilter, or when you’re in a job you loathe, or when you’re burning out through effort, or when you just want your boss to notice you, isn’t necessarily so helpful.
The barista can make many coffees.
You have a choice whether yours will always be the same.