19th Nov19th 2019
How is your predictive text?

We all get annoyed when our phone’s predictive text gets ahead of us. If we’re not careful, we don’t see the changes it makes, and end up sending nonsense to our friends. Then we have to text again, to apologise for the nonsense!

There is nothing worse than something that guesses what you mean without any context or knowledge of our thoughts. But it’s not just phones that do this - we all operate in predictive mode most of the time. As soon as we see someone or hear something, we make assumptions based on our past experiences, prejudices or upbringing. We can even predict the end of people’s sentences before they’ve finished.

The NLP Communications Model demonstrates the different filters that external events or experiences go through, as we try to make sense of the outside world.

You can test this easily: if someone mentions a profession, football team, nationality, train operator, city, band, food, fashion trend in fact, almost anything, we have an immediate predictive response about what someone or something will be like. Then we apply that prediction to what we see or hear, regardless of whether this view is warranted or correct. It’s part of how we choose to perceive the world.

However, as a coach, I wonder what we’re missing when our predictive mode kicks in, and how much of our day is taken up with assumptions rather than reality. We just see what we want to. We can hear ourselves in predictive mode when we use words like “always” and “never” a lot: “she’s always late” might be true, but is she really late every single time? Without exception? And do we know this for sure? Possibly not – we’ve just fired our predictive text mode, just as our phone would do.

In the past, such assumptions we a means of warning us of potential danger and can still play that role today. However, the sources of such danger are fewer and the opportunities for new and exciting experiences greater, if we have the self-awareness to spot when our predictive response is activated.

The richest experiences we ever have can occur when things don’t happen as we predict, and we are surprised or delighted by something or someone. Think of how people respond to a surprise party, for example.

Like our phone, let’s see if we can work out how to turn off the predictive mode.