Thursday, 26 April 2007


The other day I received the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's enewsletter, and was pleasantly surprised to see NLP mentioned . Many business people, and HR staff in particular, that we have met in the last few years have been pretty dismissive of the benefits of NLP, that's if they have heard of it at all. Even more surprising is the amount of coaches who reject it. You can't get away from the fact that NLP (like coaching) is an unregulated field and in many cases this puts people off. Plus it comes with a whole load of jargon, which some Practitioners like to hide behind.

Anyway, it turns out that the CIPD is now offering two NLP courses, one of which is coaching with NLP.

Although there are some Practitioners who actively cultivate the perception that NLP is a fringe activity, Jenny and I have always been convinced of its business benefits, and have used it successfully in many of our coaching assignments. We see it as an approach which you can easily incorporate into day-to-day life.

The fact that CIPD has 'accepted' NLP is the first step towards it being taken seriously by the business world. Three cheers for that!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

The Return of the Smug Danes

On the BBC website today: not one but two articles referring to new research about the general unhappiness of British people (and how the Danes top the league tables again). Having looked at our figures, I would say that 7.5 (or even 7) out of 10 ain’t bad, wouldn’t you, it doesn’t sound like it’s a victory for Meldrew just yet. Plus, it’s still higher than the global average which is 6.75 out of 10....

On a serious note though, according to Dr Luisa Corrado, of Cambridge University, where the research was carried out, “The UK shows falling trust in government, the police and other institutions and higher social distrust, which might explain why the level of happiness among British people has also fallen." I was struck by this because I came to a similar conclusion having read the UNICEF study on Child Well-being in Rich Countries (which we have blogged about Cambridge University before).

In the UNICEF study, young people aged 11, 13 and 15 were asked ‘do you find your peers generally kind and helpful?’, to which only 43% of British children said yes. 43%! Not only is Britain at the bottom of the OECD countries, it is also lower than all the non-OECD countries surveyed as well – e.g. Russia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

So we came bottom out of 29 countries on that score. I think that is something to be seriously concerned about, don’t you? Fortunately, trust can be built in families, communities, organizations and societies, but it requires a different way of thinking about everything from parenting to public policies.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Searching for Happiness (again)

We wrote a couple of blogs in February / March about the UNICEF study about child well-being in rich countries . On Thursday night the BBC Radio 4’s Analysis programme, Miserable Children , looked at the subject again.

The presenter, Andrew Brown, points out that whatever the criticisms of the study’s methodology, the popular explanations for the unhappiness of British children (like one parent families, working mothers etc) don’t stack up in the light of international comparisons.

I’ve read the UNICEF study for myself and was concerned to see that British children are at or near the bottom of the league table for both subjective and material well-being. You could be forgiven for thinking that increasing material affluence would therefore be a good thing to do.

When you start unpacking the figures, however, British children don’t do badly when it comes to the absolute level of material affluence, coming out above average in the league table (in 8th position out of 20). But in terms of relative poverty they fare much worse, coming 23rd out of 24 (the USA is 24th). Notwithstanding that there are children in Britain who do have very little, what the UNICEF figures suggest is that happiness for most children today has more to do with the perception of how well they are doing compared to others.

It is the case that children these days are under increasing pressure to be more successful compared to others (whether in terms of educational or sports achievement, beauty, acquisition of material goods etc). But as Professor Richard Layard of the LSE points out in the Analysis programme, by definition it’s impossible for more people to be more successful compared to others, and therefore it’s a recipe for perpetual dissatisfaction, both in childhood and later in adulthood.

The programme concludes with the suggestion that measuring status only in terms of material success is a recipe for never-ending and needless misery, and judging by everything I’ve read recently, I tend to agree.

If you want to hear this Analysis programme yourself, it’ll be repeated tomorrow, Sunday 15th April at 9.30pm.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Counting Kindnesses and Happiness

This is fascinating may recall our blog a few weeks ago about how counting your blessings can make you happier. Well I have stumbled across another article about counting, this time in the Journal of Happiness Studies; the focus is on how counting your kindnesses can increase your level of happiness.

"Simply by counting acts of kindness for one week, people appear to have become happier and more grateful" (say Otake, Shimai, Tanaka-Matsumi, Otsui and Fredrickson, Nov 2006).

'This is too good to be true', I hear your cry, 'surely it can't be that simple?'... Well, it would seem that there's no catch.... Only that you have to be a) happy and b) kind to start with... Oh and c) you have to be able to count. Ah, I knew those years I spent number-crunching would come in useful sometime...