Ways of Being - the process of ‘unbecoming’ through conversational change

25th November by Veronica Munro

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Ways of Being - conversational change

‘Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place’.

Paul Coelho, Life: Selected Quotations. July 2008


One of the most powerful changes any individual can go through is replacing habitual unhelpful behaviours with new productive ones.

This brief article introduces a highly powerful conversational change technique called ‘Ways of Being’, created by David Ross (Cloud9 apps). It works across and through the matrix of millions of possible interceptions of thoughts, feelings, behaviours, all triggered by memories, unconscious decisions, values, beliefs and strategies et al. A 'Way of Being' is the product of these and can be changed. This is a very abbreviated introduction to show you how! *

The principle of Ways of Being is that you can stop habituation to your current way of being (i.e. stop doing what you currently can’t stop doing) and create, practice and make habitual a new Way of Being that will support you achieving your goals and outcomes.

The technique quickly identifies a key unhelpful or unwanted behaviour that is interfering with the client’s effectiveness in one or more areas, and then generates the motivation to change through contrastive analysis, surfaces the deep-seated values that keep the unwanted Way of Being in place, and enables the client to produce an even more effective alternative behaviour instead, in just one conversation. Here's how!

Write down what your client says (in their words) on a flipchart, whiteboard or piece of paper so they can see all the connections between the information as you proceed with this technique.

1 Identify STRENGTHS: Ask your client - What are your top strengths? For example, I am good at getting results, I am a team builder etc. You can leverage these later in the context of their outcome. (Write top left)

2 Identify OUTCOME/S: Ask - What is your outcome for the coaching? They may reply something along the lines of: 'To be more effective in conflict situations'. You will wish to explore this in a little more detail at this stage. (Write top right)

3 Identify an unhelpful Way of Being: Ask - What is the one unhelpful behaviour that you do that interferes with, or undermines you, in being 'more effective in conflict situations'? Note down key words client uses as they will resonate with them when fed back. This is important for building rapport and trust.

The client may answer in many ways; however, it is important to encourage them to identify the one key default way of behaving (Way of Being) that they have when they get the triggers in the context of conflict. Ask them to express this as an 'I am ' statement. For example, 'I am impatient', 'I am irritated' or 'I am hurrying them'.

Write this 'I am statement' across the centre of the page/whiteboard under the Strengths and Outcome. The rest of the technique enables you to explore the interaction of this across a number of context and for the client to also consciously, and unconsciously, notice the further connections within.

4 Identify the BENEFITS: Ask - What are the benefits of this Way of Being?

This may appear to be an unusual question, however all behaviours have benefits in some shape or form otherwise we wouldn't do them. Write on the left side of the page the heading Benefits. List the benefits beneath this and, if the client gets stuck, just ask 'And what else?' and hold the space in silence to allow the client to reflect further. (You are seeking anything from 3 - 6 benefits here). Once they have no more to add move to the next step.

5 Identify the CONSEQUENCES: Ask - What are the consequences of this   Way of Being? Write on the right side of the page under the heading Consequences. Again, list all the key words the client says, and your aim is to get as many of these as possible. (This is not difficult with the consequences). Continue with asking 'And what else?'.

6 Identify the VALUES that are important (and actually drive the benefits and all the behaviours). Ask - What is important about these Benefits? (and write details underneath) The client is likely to say things like - I get more results (write down the word results as this is the key value, and belief); I retain good relationships (write down good relationships).

7 Identify an alternative Way of Being: Ask - What is an alternative Way of Being that you do really well already, as you look at your Strengths, that would help you retain all the Benefits, though will delete or remove the Consequences? What would that I am statement be? Next, ask them to try on each one in the context of when you do this old unhelpful way of being and see which way of being works best for you instead? Write down the alternative Way of Being to be used.

8 Identify the new behaviours: Ask - When you are being 'I am engaging' what are the specific behaviours that you will be demonstrating now in that context? Write down the list of behaviours and use a Tag question as an embedded command to your client using their words: And you ask questions about their needs and challenges, listening carefully, ask what support they need to  move things forward and be in an upbeat collaborative mood, can't you.

Your client now has an alternative and helpful Way of Being along with having practiced some new behaviours in their mind in the context of their outcome: 'To be more effective in conflict situations'. When the client enters into a similar future scenario, they have a choice. They can either practice the new Way of Being and behaviours and achieve more productive outcomes or they can revert to their old Way of Being and behaviours. The former is more likely as they are motivated to change and seek to avoid the consequences of the old behaviours and Way of Being.

This conversational change model enables people to move towards who they want to become and away from who they have been. That's what this technique enables you to do as you work with your clients.


Our deepest thanks to Veronica Munro (@Veronicamunro) and the team at Practical Inspiration Publishing (@PIPtalking) for sharing this extract from The Journey Inside.

Please note that this is a highly abbreviated and limited version of this technique and does not cover the most deepest connections, impact and full technique which appears in the newly released book 'THE JOURNEY INSIDE: Coaching to the Core' by Veronica Munro (Contributions by Veronica Munro, Richard Haggerty, Sheila Attenborough, Dan Newby, David Ross, Colin D. Smith, Aidan Tod). You can purchase the book directly from Amazon and all other good book shops.