Mummy May I

Mummy, May I =


Mummy, May I have a biscuit?

= No, Dear, it’s nearly Tea

Why, Mummy Dear?

= Because it will spoil your appetite!

Why’s that, Mummy Dear?

= Because there will be no room in your tummy for anything else?

Why, Mummy Dear?

= Because there is only so much space in your tummy at a time!

= That’s why we have Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, Supper and, when we’re feeling posh, Dinner!

Why, Mummy Dear?

= Because that’s the way God made it so!

Why, Mummy Dear?

= Ask your Father!!

Daddy, please may I have a biscuit?

= Why, Dear?

Because I’d like one, Daddy Darling, of course!

= OK, My Love, then you’d better have one!


= Result!



Admit Emit Omit

“How are you?” The truth is not always welcome here.

For many people, asking, “How are you?” is mere punctuation to aid the flow of conversation. There are certain phrases that are like warm up shots in a game of tennis. They are not the real thing.

For these types, it is best to omit the truth. However, you can tell a truth without compromise. Instead of saying, “I’m fine” (which for me means, “I’m about as low as I can get!”) or the even worse, “Not too bad” (very English), I say the honest, “I’m doing good, thank you!” This wonderfully ambiguous phrase is my truth. Every day, even the worst days, I still seek to do a little bit of good for some other soul. (Yes, I’m a righteous dude, I know!!!) Of course, the listener reads this as I’m OK, but that’s OK, isn’t it?

For others, they need you to play a role. Some are not ready for the truth. They need you to be amazing or at least OK. A good example is children. So the, “I’m doing good, thank you!” answer works well for them too, but needs a little extra magic. This is where I think we need to emit the ‘truth’. Emit means to discharge something, especially radiation. My children and my grand children, and my listeners to my radio shows, need me to emit positivity, hope, sparkle. While this hasn’t always been my practice and sometimes seems impossible, it is always my intention. Like a cheetah running, I can usually manage short bursts before needing to recharge!

And then there are the rare few who welcome the truth. When I ask you, “How are you?” I want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I want you to put your hand on a metaphorical bible and in the court of love, tell me how you really are. Why? Because I am genuinely interested in your well-being.

And by “I” I mean “Moodscope” – we are genuinely interested in your well-being. That’s what our blog support structure is for – to help you deal with your truth.

In this small, safe environment, it is safe to admit the truth – it’s welcome here because you are welcome here.

So, how are you today?


Humour: Foot in Mouth Disease

Foot In Mouth Disease…

What a bizarre English idiom: to put your foot in your mouth. Aside from this being physically impossible for me since the age of 6 months (I’m just not that flexible), it really is a strange phrase, isn’t it? That’s beside the point. The point is, I am a Master at the art. It means to say something offensive or embarrassing… and I’m a natural at that! No effort required!

In the UK Market, Nestlé have broadened their range of KitKat chocolate bars. I’m sure it’s the same the World over. One of the new ones is a ‘KitKat Chunky’. Great, delicious chunks of chocolate. Want some?

I bought some. Knowing how much my friend loves chocolate, I said to her, “Would you like a KitKat Chunky?”

Her response was, “Would you like a slap?”

There was a pause.

On reflection, I realised she thought I was calling her “Chunky”!

Fortunately, we both laughed and saw the funny side of me putting my foot in my mouth. It did, however, remind me of a great principle: “The meaning of your communication is the response you get.” This saying from Linguistics suggests that your intention really doesn’t count for much in the game we call ‘communication’. If someone misreads what you mean (and who hasn’t been misunderstood?), then it’s up to you to change your communication…

…until you get the response you want or intend.

This simple principle has saved me all manner of anxiety and effort over trying to justify what I intended to mean. When the communication doesn’t ‘work’ – I simply look for another way to make my point and let go of the guilt. This can be easily softened by, “I didn’t put that very well; what I meant to say was…”

Have you ever said anything embarrassing, though completely innocently?  I’d love to hear… we all would!



It’s an interesting phrase in English, “Let’s just sense-check that…” But what does it mean? Well it means to check out the data, the numbers, the facts to see if they add up and make logical sense. It’s a great manifestation of Mathematical-Logical Intelligence.

But I’m a Creative. I like to find new meanings – or even make new meanings.

You see (and hear and feel and taste and smell) we all use our senses to check out if something ‘makes sense’ to us. It’s more than just logic, it’s sensory. Empirical data judged through the senses.

This is a fundamental principle of my approach to Accelerating Learning. The more senses one layers to make a point, the faster that point gets across to the learner, and the more ‘sense’ it makes. Many traditional communicators rely on one-sense-only to make a point. If the audience doesn’t prefer that specific sensory channel, there can be a mis-match and a danger of communicating ‘non-sense’.

So, in Accelerating Learning, I encourage the trainers, teachers and communication professionals I work with to ‘GO VHF’ – to help every target group ‘tune into’ their broadcast.

In radio language, do you know what ‘VHF’ stands for?

‘VHF’ stands for ‘Very High Frequency’. You can have a ‘Very High Frequency’ of success in engaging your audience if you layer another VHF, the VHF of ‘Vision’, ‘Hearing’, and ‘Feeling’ (in the physical and emotional senses.) The ‘GO’ stands for ‘Gustatory’ (sense of taste) and ‘Olfactory’ (sense of smell). I have a few programmes that use scent and taste to make the learning point, but usually I layer just Vision, Hearing and Feeling. Those three strands, woven together, are not easily resisted!

What then if we were to reframe ‘Sense-Check’ to mean the physical senses? To sense-check our information, a client would literally check in with their senses to see/hear/feel if our message was congruent, consistent and convincing.

For marketing professionals or anyone with an important message, this then becomes a great strategy for influencing with integrity. You would answer three questions:

  • How can I present this message in a visually compelling way to my target group?
  • How can I enrich the sound component so that it is sonically alluring?
  • What can they touch and physically interact with to convince them of the quality of my offering?

Isn’t this why top brands choose known vocal talents to sell their product? Isn’t this why we have visual celebrity endorsements of products or services? Isn’t this why some stores have the invitation to ‘please touch’ on some soft furnishings?

If you want to pass the ‘Sense-Check’ – check out the ways your message makes sense!!!

Moodscope 19: Playing the “Ashamed” Card

19 Moodscope Card - Ashamed

The penultimate card!  Today’s card is the 19th in my series of 20 on the Moodscope Mood-Measuring indicators.  The 19th is the “Ashamed” Card which Moodscope defines as, “feeling shame for doing something wrong or foolish.”

What a great word for “embarrassment”!  Oh, I’ve embarrassed myself on many an occasion.  But do you know what?  Most of the events weren’t worth getting embarrassed about.  I was always the one who cared most about the stupid thing I said or did.  Others may have laughed “at” me, but they soon forgot.  Well, usually!

HARP Tip: It is alwyas worth asking yourself the question, “According to whom?”  If you’re feeling embarrassed and therefore believe the situation to be embarrassing, ask yourself, “This is embarrassing according to whom?”  Sometimes that’s enough to take the sting out of the moment.

As a frame can make or distract from a picture, so also the context can exaggerate or dissipate a sense of shame.  This is where you can make a difference.  If you are ashamed or embarrassed, excuse yourself (not by way of apology but by way of absenting yourself – Elvis must leave the building!)

This may seem almost cowardly but we all know deep down that trying to do something about the situation from a state of feeling ashamed rarely produces anything good.  We’ve dug a hole and we can end up digging it deeper.

Better to leave as graciously as you can (even if only for 5 minutes to the loo), breathe differently, change your posture, refocus and reframe the event.  Then you can return to influence the way the rest of the time plays out from a position of detached strength.  A sense of shame often provokes the defence of blame.  Better to dissociate yourself for a while and get a fresh perspective.

Of course, I don’t need to remind you that everyone has made a fool of themselves at some time or other.  Because of this, the simple and beautiful words, “I’m sorry,” will resonate so powerfully with their heart that they will be moved.  They may choose not to outwardly show this but humility and love is irresistible in the long run.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Amen and So Be It!

HARP Tip: “Associated vs Dissociated.
This is language used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and in HARP (Hypnotic Associative Re-Patterning).
It refers to how ‘in’ the event you feel or perceive yourself to be.
Most of us watch the sad News on the TV in a dissociated state.
It is as if the glass on the front of the screen provides a safety barrier for our emotions – a shield between event and emotion.
If the News then mentions someone we know, we are suddenly pulled through the screen into the event – we feel it personally.
This is the ‘Associated’ state.
It is as if you are there,
looking through your eyes
hearing through your ears
feeling through your skin…
Being able to be associated or dissociated at will is a core-skill of being ‘Emotionally Intelligent’.
An emergency worker is better off being dissociated whilst giving practical aid.
In fact many acts of heroism are carried out in a dissociated state.
When the hero is interviewed afterwards, they often say it, “just happened… I acted without thinking.”
Feeling embarrassed is very ‘associated’!
Dissociating yourself is a good strategy to take the sting out of this unresourceful and disempowering emotional state or feeling.
‘Breaking State’ – breaking the spell the emotion has cast over you, by absenting yourself from the situation is a great first step.
When you return to face the heat (even if it was just the heat in your cheeks), imagine going back as a commentator from the BBC.
Distance yourself from yourself!
Imagine you were commenting objectively and dispassionately about someone else.
If you want to step up the magic, imagine yourself protected by a clear, toughended glass shield that stops other people’s negative ‘vibes’ reaching you.
I use a technique I learned and adapted from Jack Black (the Scottish Motivational Speaker, not the Hollywood star!)
The technique is called, “Thunderbirds!” and is named in honour of the TV Show.
It has a wonderful, military march theme tune and promotes a sense of adventure and good energy.
I play the theme tune to myself in my head, and imagine a protective clear glass shield coming down all around me.
It is permeable to air, so I can breathe freely!
However, it is impermeable to negativity – nothing negative can get through my shield!
I find this helps me deal with difficult situations without my own or other people’s emotions contaminating the communication.
Crazy?  I don’t think so.  After all, “Reality leaves so much to the imagination!”

Improvised Discounts

Improvised Discounts and the Art of Communicating

I was talking on the phone with an important client yesterday evening. We were planning to meet up. I was enthusiastic about this, and said, “that’ll be brilliant!” He said, “It’ll be good, I’m not sure about ‘brilliant’.”
He wasn’t being cute of funny. He was just being himself.
It reminded me, usefully, of one of the Golden Rules of Impro (‘Improv’ or ‘improvisational theatre’). In Impro (as in the game show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”), one of the key principles is the win-win of building on a colleague’s suggestion. So if a colleague improvises and says, “I see you have a wooden leg” – the idea is to develop the theme. The next character might say, “And I’m terrified by the way you remind me of a woodpecker – get away from my leg!” An inexperienced impro artist will often panic and negate a line fed to them. In our story above, they might say, “No, I think you’ll find I have a normal leg…” What does the first actor do now? If they are brilliant, they’ll recover and add something Pythonesque such as, “I’m sorry, I have a cold!” but many people will let the connection die.
Communication Professionals call this negative barrier an ‘empathy blocker’.

It blocks empathy.

Blocks the flow of the conversation.

Creates an impasse.

We are not sympatico.

Pacing and Leading

In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), great emphasis is placed on ‘pacing’ then ‘leading’. This is the opposite of an empathy blocker’s behaviour. We ‘pace’ a person – matching not just their speed but also their frame-of-reference, choice of tone, language, and volume. Then, when we believe ‘rapport’ has been achieved (we are sympatico), the partner in the dance of communication takes the lead. If the other follows, the dance continues. This ebb and flow, this give and take, I call “The Estuary of Conversation”.

Improvised Discounts

My client is normal. The normal way to communicate is for people to hold fast to their own world-view and decline the invitation to dance. This is as thrilling for the other party as having their card declined at the checkout… with a queue of people watching!  A lot of opportunities to dance are missed.

In this sense, any conversation is a series of transactions. When we fail to pace and lead, we decline the transaction. The conversation fails. It skids to a halt. Rapport is broken, like some strange chemical bond being broken, and you chemists know what happens next… a reaction!
Most people, when their transaction has been blocked, go quiet. That’s pretty sensible. When you’re ready though, you will learn the power of returning to pacing. You will be the experienced Impro Actor. When the apprentice stumbles, you must masterfully and graciously pick up their pace again and go with their flow. “I’m sorry, I have a cold…”
This is going to happen to you.

A lot.

So let’s get ready for it. Realise that it actually is a well-developed improvisational skill: improvised discounting! Discounting is the habit of rendering someone else’s point-of-view of lower value than they hold it to be worth – a discount. Many discounts are actually dismissive of the total value, but everyday conversations are full of little put-downs, empathy blockers, and discounts. A discount devalues the relationship. This is occasionally deliberate (where someone is being spiteful or jealous) but it is usually totalling innocent and beyond the awareness of the offending party.

Improvised Bargain

We can move from an ‘improvised discount’ to an ‘improvised bargain’. ‘Bargain’ is a strange word – meaning to ‘bar’ ‘gain’ – to forbid or block anyone gaining. In this sense, it is not a word I like. I do, however, like what it has come to mean in everyday speech. It means win-win. Neither party wins to the detriment of the other.

It is fair.

It is just.

It is Impro!

With an ‘improvised bargain’ of a conversation, the transactions are equal and flowing. Each listens, acknowledges, reflects, and builds on the other’s contributions…


…and a simple way to do this is to swap out the word ‘but’ for the phrase ‘and so’ (or just ‘and’ where more appropriate.)
And so, back to our actors…
“I see you have a wooden leg…”
“And so I make an excellent Pirate, ahargh!”
With pacing and leading on today’s agenda, I wonder if we can dance from ‘good’ to ‘brilliant’? I’ll let you know.
Can’t wait for the performance!