After all the effort to get my visa to go to India, including badly spraining my ankle, I made it on the planes, helped by friendly people bearing wheelchairs.
I reached Bangalore after midnight greeted by the wide smiles of my welcome committee. In the car in the dark, late at night, I noticed right away that drivers do not feel the need to stay in one lane —- why bother, when you can wander around the road and beep! Driving in Bangalore is a visual, auditory and gut sense experience. Near miss – beep! Almost sideswiped. beep beep, beep, beep, deftly curving left, beep beep, mind that dog, beep beep, veer right beep, brake hard, beep beep. Cows on the road, moo, moo, beep, beep. Wow. That takes skill and a 7th sense to know where everyone else is. It was like being in a flowing river, rising, bending full of people and cars (and the occasional dog and cow).
Steamy night, security check at the hotel entrance, willowy bamboo and wavering palms, leaves shivering under a light rain, lobby of marble floors. Beautiful flowers in my room, falling asleep immediately. Was this all a dream?
The light shone in at 6 a.m. I looked out the window to see lush green trees filling the view with low-rise buildings dotted all over the gray horizon. Today, as everyday I was greeted with smiles, welcomes and they remembered everything about me — soy milk, no wheat — I was treated like a queen!
Kichu Krishnan, director of Usetime India, my host and entrepreneur extraordinaire, met me in the afternoon with the biggest smile of all and a warm hug, which I wasn’t expecting. We went over all the arrangements for the Words That Change Minds LAB Profile Practitioner Program I was to deliver over the next three days. It turned out that he had personally contacted most of the participants and said they should be there. And 60 came! Now, that’s credibility.
Presidents of companies, managers, human resources leaders, marketing professionals, trainers, coaches, many of whom had studied NLP with Father Dick McHugh. (Father Dick, PhD. is an NLP trainer and graduate of my Words That Change Minds Consultant/Trainer Certification. He introduced the LAB Profile into India — thanks Father Dick!)
Kichu introduced me by telling everyone how wonderful an experience they were about to have —- gulp —- and you know the only direction of movement from on a pedestal is ….. down. He set the bar very high.
What a lively group! As we worked and laughed throughout the program and exercises, people asked many questions and made comments. Often accompanied by a story, sometimes a detailed story. A very different experience, than working with North American and European groups. At times I had to tell the group we needed to move on. I got the feeling many participants were trying out ideas, concepts by recounting their story to see if it fit. I was careful to frame the content with an invitation to see if there was a fit with Indian culture, rather than just assuming that western research and ideas would automatically map over to India.
Doing demonstrations of the LAB Profile questions and decoding the Motivation Triggers with a live person at the front posed different challenges. The Indian nod of confirmation is from side to side, diagonal movement of a kind usually interpreted as doubt or hesitation in the west. With this being my first time doing a demonstration with a subject in front of a group in India, I found it very difficult to be sure of the signals I was getting. As usual the participants helped with the interpretation.
The group was so open-minded that I was tempted to go through some risky doors. We talked frankly about influencing and persuasion in difficult situations – how what I call “Command Language” is no longer effective in a world where people want to decide for themselves. With some exceptions of course — if you have impeccable credibility, or if the people you want to convince of something are willing members of a fundamentalist religion where the religious leader tells them what to do and they do it.
We discussed women’s issues and the changing (and sometimes not changing) role of women in families and at work. We giggled about some of the gender differences which turned out to be equally true in India — things such as that insightful remark from Jerry Seinfeld: “Women want to know what is on TV. Men want to know what else is on TV.” We mapped this over to the Options (many choices) Motivation Trigger versus the Procedures Motivation Trigger (need to complete the process or the story).
And I got to go shopping with Ayo Gnaedig, Managing Director of H.T.P. Concept market research in Mumbai, and again with Kichu and his office manager Munira. I tried on many clothes. Here I am trying on the first one I loved (that fit).
I wore it the next day and caused quite a stir. But how can you not feel beautiful and loved in such amazing clothing? So I had to have a few more!
I was very impressed with what people revealed throughout the program. A couple of people reported using the Words That Change Minds approaches right away at home; one person had the first really intimate conversation with his wife in many years; she spoke about her dreams and aspirations. Another person solved an ongoing disagreement with his teenage son. A third person told me privately about shifting her own attitude to a positive one with regards to someone very dear to her. And so it went. Some of the business leaders were winking at each other as we covered the differences in motivation and decision-making between purchasers of software versus how the end users actually use the software. (Options and Procedures again)
And we looked at how customers’ expectations have changed, from my new book The Customer is Bothering Me and people talked about what they need to change in their own operations.
All and all it was a wonderful trip for me. The people, the environment, the work we did together. And they want me back! In January 2011 we have planned to do another Words That Change Minds, this time in Mumbai. And a refresher plus Conversational Coaching in Bangalore