As you sit there, or stand there starting to read this article about pacing and leading, and you see the words on the screen, you may start to get curious as to how pacing and leading are used.
Pacing is acknowledging a person’s current state, and their model of the world (how they see things). Leading is taking the person into your own state or model of the world.
The first paragraph of this article is an example of this. I acknowledged your current state to the best of my ability, then mentioned that you may get curious.
This is a hypnotic technique, it gets past the “critical faculty” or conscious mind because you are starting with something that is obviously true.
How can this be applied in your daily life? You can use it to diffuse an uncomfortable situation. Say you are dealing with someone who is loud and approaches you yelling. Pacing this person would be to match their tone and aggressiveness, but perhaps not their content. This could lead to a humorous dissolution of their aggression. Once you match their intensity, then gradually take it down a few notches. Notice their response.
You can use pacing and leading to help calm someone. Tad James tells a story about a youngster he was working with. The child was tapping his foot on the ground at a fast, nervous pace. Tad then did something called “cross over mirroring” by tapping a pencil at the same speed. This was pacing the boy’s foot tapping. He then led the situation by slowing down his tapping, and the child slowed down and eventually stopped his nervous behavior.
Pacing and leading is helpful in daily conversations with people. Say you are approaching a group, for best results, listen to the conversation first, and contribute in some way in the current topic (pacing) before jumping into your agenda (leading). If you are presenting to a number of people in a professional situation, create some kind of connection by pacing what they did just before arriving at your presentation. “I know many of you drove across town this morning to make this class. I can see some of you even brought your breakfast.” Then you can segue into your introduction.
There is a sign on the highway that goes South from Las Vegas to Boulder City. It is for a car dealership. The sign says, something like, “You are driving South, now turn right at the next exit to the auto store.” I thought that was a brilliant use of pacing and leading.
This is important to keep in mind with your coaching clients. For example, when you first get on the phone with them, find out what is happening in their day. Get an idea of their pressing challenges before you go forward with your coaching.
When you first tune into the Now, you will be better prepared to steer that Now to your own desired outcome.
As you consider these examples, you may automatically be thinking of ways you can apply pacing and leading in your own life and in your own practice.