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Focus on Language

Language is at the heart of your life. You use language as your predominant method of communication and it is crucial to understanding yourself as an individual and to being understood by others.

Recognising its importance in life is clearly what led me to study degree level Linguistics: the scientific study of language and how it is structured, used and acquired. My curiosity took me on a journey into the WHY, WHAT and HOW you communicate. It absolutely fascinated me then as an 18 year old student and it continues to do so today as a somewhat more mature student!

Back in university I covered many diverse yet interrelated topics including English Language Learning and Teaching, Sociolinguistics, Dialectology, Child Language Acquisition, Second Language Learning, Phonetics, Morphology, Speech Therapy, Semantics, Syntax, Phonology and Physiology.

What I didn’t cover all those years ago was Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP as it is more often referred to. I’d heard people talk about it however I assumed it was something to do with computers or maths and it never occurred to me to actually research what it meant. Almost three decades later, I’ve just qualified as a Master NLP Practitioner with fabulous trainers Jools Montague and Pip Thomas from Edge NLP.

NLP is a psychological approach which relates thoughts, language and patterns of behaviour learned through experience to specific outcomes detecting and modifying unconscious biases or limitations of your map of the world.

Essentially NLP is how to use language of the mind to consistently achieve your specific and desired outcomes. By understanding that your way of thinking of the world is just your way of thinking there is huge scope to change and reframe your language.

How you speak, write, listen and read all have a huge impact on not only your daily decisions but on those all important life decisions.

It is time to switch up your language now!

“Je pense, donc je suis.” (I think, therefore I am) René Descartes

One particular NLP model I adopted on the Master NLP course, and have since popped into my coaching toolbox, is the Cartesian Coordinates which are based on a set of mathematical concepts created by French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes.

Four questions that work together to help you to get new perspectives and understanding around what inspires or blocks you when making a decision or setting a goal. The questions encourage you to think creatively. They also identify the differing motivations involved moving towards pleasure or moving away from a position of pain.

I actually used this set of questions last year when trying to understand how I felt around a difficult choice I had to make but at the time I didn’t realise it was an NLP technique.

Before I share this invaluable set of questions with you in the hope that it will help you to find creative solutions and explore all possible options, first you will need to identify with clarity the decision or goal you want to focus on. Then add the statement you identify to the end of each question to make it personal to you.

Question 1: What WOULD happen if you DID make this change?

Question 2: What WOULD happen if you DIDN'T make this change?

Question 3: What WOULDN'T happen if you DID make this change?

Question 4: What WOULDN'T happen if you DIDN'T make this change?

So, for example, if you wanted to become a podcaster, the questions would look like these:

What WOULD happen if you DID become a podcaster?

What WOULD happen if you DIDN’T become a podcaster?

What WOULDN’T happen if you DID become a podcaster?

What WOULDN’T happen if you DIDN’T become a podcaster?

Question 1 helps you to visualise your motivation towards fulfilling and achieving your decision or goal. Question 2 focuses on staying as you are and any pain points related to your current situation. Question 3 helps you to understand what you may lose as a result of making a change. The double negative in Question 4 really switches up your thinking and will disrupt your flow and conscious processing. This is intentional as it reveals any hidden perspectives and helps you to tap into your feelings.

On the surface, they may seem like fairly straightforward questions however next time you have a decision to make, try them out and see how you get on.

Whether you are conscious of it or not, your language rules your life. Be more aware of the importance of your language both internally and externally, how it impacts your life and how it affects your way of thinking, being, doing and having.


Identify a presenting problem, goal or decision you’re facing in either your personal or business life and apply the Cartesian Coordinates to them!

Enjoy the process!


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