The Doom and Gloom Special (Part 1)
The end of the
world is nigh (again)
I was on my way back from London and was
buying a coffee in the train’s overcrowded buffet car. This was back in 1997
and just a few days after the death of Princess Diana. Behind me a somewhat
inebriated journalist was loudly confiding to his companion that her death
was going to cost the newspaper industry millions of pounds. 'We'll never be
able to replace her - her picture on the front page guaranteed sales'.
I wasn't hugely shocked by his mercenary
cynicism – though I was surprised at his booze-induced frankness – because,
while our news media here in the UK is often described as being among the
best that is available anywhere, it does seem to have become much more
sensationalising and trivialising in the past decade or so.
The NLP suggestion, when faced with someone's
inappropriate behaviour, is to look for the 'intention' behind that
behaviour rather than focus merely on the behaviour. By "intention" we mean
one of the person trying to achieve through their behaviour is . So if a
colleague is being difficult in some way we seek to find out what are they
trying to achieve through that behaviour. If one's child or partner is
sulking we aim to find out what they trying to achieve through sulking.
If we apply this to the news media it’s
pretty obvious what’s going on – the newspapers, magazines, television and
radio want to keep us coming back for more. The individual journalists want
to further their careers, get more money and collect awards. And in both
cases we, their customers, are a means to an end.
In addition to seeking the intention behind
that behaviour is also useful to use the NLP Different Perspectives, or
Perceptual Positions patterns that we can see the situation through their
eyes. Applying this to the media their behaviour is quite logical in that
they are prepared to do whatever it takes to stay in business, especially
with so many people switching to the Internet for news.
If we then use the NLP tactic of Chunking Up
in order to recognise the bigger picture behind the various methods they use
we can recognise a three-part formula for attracting you and I: the 3 S’s of
shock, sadden, and scare. The accepted wisdom in the media is that good news
doesn't sell and they appear to believe that this best way of selling
copies, or maintaining ratings or, in the case of individual journalists
making a name for yourself.
(Yes, there could be a fourth 'S' in the
formula if we add 'seduce'. And some sections of the media do quite well by
featuring naked bodies and salacious gossip and investigations into people's
Right now the Global Economic Crisis is, not
surprisingly, big news so we are fed daily dollops of grim news: job cuts,
business closures, house prices falling, falling profits, and consumers and
running scared rather than shopping. And you can bet that there will be ever
more gloomy predictions and reports for at least the next few months.
This will continue until a serious plane
crash, terrorist atrocity, or natural calamity steals the headlines for a
week or so. And you can bet that already there is that other trusty
perennial The Annual Great Winter Flu Scare story waiting in the wings, just
in case, to boost the ratings and advertising and sales.
that it was ….
Earlier this year we were receiving warnings
that rising prices was going to cause famine in most developing countries.
At about the same time reports on rising petrol prices reached near-hysteria
with warnings that driving would soon become too expensive for many of us -
and make food too expensive for many even in the developed world. And then
we had the running story that we in Europe were facing a winter freeze up
because Russia was going to turn off the gas supply.
Now, just a few months later, oil prices are
at their lowest for 18 months and this has resulted in lower food prices
internationally because of cheaper fertiliser and reduced distribution
costs. and, it appears, Russia needs to trade just like any other nation.
This news is not getting the same media coverage - it doesn't meet the
But there is
Yes, there is lots of bad news about. And
it's right and proper that the media should be report it. However there is
not just bad news. There is good news as well but good news doesn't sell
newspapers or help ratings. And even when it is covered it certainly doesn't
get the headlines or the sustained coverage.
The bad news coverage is generally
sensationalised and gives us neither a balanced nor a long-term perspective.
we do not, for example
Hear much about the increase in many
household incomes resulting from the recent big drop in the bank rate
Get balanced perspectives on the bad news -
such as how, two or three years after great housing crash of the early
90s, most house prices had exceeded their pre-crash price
Hear much about the success stories such as
how the town of Corby in Northants, written off by the media 20 years
ago after the collapse of the steel industry, has successfully
Shock-Sadden-Scare approach sets our 'filters'
In our NLP Core Skills course we do an
important little experiment to demonstrate how we automatically, or
unconsciously, filter incoming information - and how this filtering process
influences our attitude, our actions and our emotions.
The experiment explains how we find what we
set out to find and how self fulfilling prophecy's work. Now, unless we are
very careful indeed, the news media will set our filters in a very important
way; we will begin to see only doom, gloom, suffering, pain, illness,
poverty, and so on – negating optimism, enthusiasm and even the joy of
living. And this is happening to millions of individuals right now: you may
have noticed how much more pessimistic and cautious many people seem to be
now compared with even six or eight months ago...
Maintaining a positive attitude
Even if you do choose to not read newspapers,
not look as headlines on billboards, not listen to the radio or watch TV
news you're still going to be mixing with people who do this and who have
absorbed that attitude. And it takes a pretty determined and clear thinking
attitude to not be at least slightly affected by it.
So, unless we are very careful, we can get
used to accepting such messages as simply describing 'the way things are'
and, once this begins happening, they can become self-fulfilling prophecies
so that …
Instead of building your own business, when
most other people are being cautious, you decide 'it's not the right
time' and passively wait for things to get better
Instead of convincing potential customers
that this is a great time to buy you accept their story that times are
Instead of furthering your career by looking
for a better job you decide to keep your head down and hope you don't
Instead of investing in your professional
and personal development you decide to wait for a few more years
Instead of taking advantage of very low
prices you decide to hold off until things have stabilised or until
prices have started rising again.
So opportunities are missed, economic
activity slows down even further and the media have more doom and gloom to
report – and their gloomy predictions have been proved right - by you and I!
things are happening…
Yes, and they have always been happening and
will continue to happen. People are losing jobs or even their homes and
businesses are closing. To bounce back from serious setbacks such as these
requires self belief, confidence, and realistic optimism - qualities which
are unlikely to be engendered by paying attention to the news media.
There are quite a few things, apart from the
obvious and somewhat extreme move of avoiding the news media altogether,
which we can do to
Immunise ourselves against the shock, sadden
and scare approach
Alert others to the need for clearer
thinking and maybe even
Look for opportunities where others see only
And we’ll begin looking at these in the next
newsletter – which will be with you in just over a week!
is a related article on the media, bad news, and NLP here
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More information about NLP
NLP - what's
in it for me?
How to learn NLP
7 tips for choosing an NLP training provider
NLP Core Skills - our course in the New Forest
What people have said about
By Reg Connolly,
Director of Training, Pegasus NLP