Modalities and sequencing in strategies
So far in this section on Strategies in NLP we've covered a number of things - the meaning of strategies in NLP, how strategies might be used, what we can do with them (Detect, Utilise, Change and Install)and, on the previous page, how to chunk for strategy elicitation in the Detection phase.
Here we're going to chunk down one level to assist your understanding further by examining strategies in a finer level of detail.
To make this part easier for me to explain I'm going to use a metaphor and ask you to imagine that strategies are like a telephone, with each of the telephone's keys being linked to one of your various sensory modalities / representational systems - Visual, Kinesthetic, Auditory, Olfactory and Gustatory.
Just as different sequences of numbers punched on a telephone keypad will get us different people in different places, the order and sequence in which we use our representational systems will get us different outcomes.
A telephone number, like a strategy, is a means to access resources. One must dial the appropriate number to access the appropriate resource.
If we wish to call an ambulance, find out about getting our car fixed, book tickets at the cinema or buy garden furniture we must know the right numbers to use.
Changing or omitting even one digit will lead us to an entirely different outcome. Some places have more than one telephone number and so it will be possible to dial several different sequences to reach them. Others will have one number and one number only.
Reaching certain parties sometimes requires that the number dialled be prefixed with another sequence of digits in the form of an area code. Strategies are the same - every step in the strategy and the eventual outcome is dependent on the steps that have come before.
People sometimes get stuck in strategies similar to that of a person who keeps punching the last four digits of a seven digit number and then wonders why they end up with only a dial tone.
Others waste time and effort by needlessly over preparing, like the person who uses the area code when calling people in his own locality.
People may also forget about important or appropriate strategies, or about the correct representational sequences which make them up, in much the same way as one may forget a telephone number or mix it up with numbers that they use more frequently.
People are more likely to achieve their desired outcomes when the strategies they use are appropriate for the context they are operating in at the time.
Applying a habitual or highly valued strategy in an inappropriate context would be like moving from the UK to Australia and then ordering pizza from your favourite UK pizza parlour because that's the only telephone number you know.