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If you're feeling happy, clap your hands

Published on Friday, 25 Feb 2011
Harry Wong trained as an auditor and worked in Vancouver before coming across a newspaper article about neuro-linguistic programming. He decided to join a session and is now highly qualified in this form of interpersonal communication. It’s a rare company that doesn’t have dissatisfied staff members, but a negative mindset can always be changed by taking a common-sense approach, he says.

Happy Coaching is the rather delightful term used for a serious aim - if you have a contented workforce, productivity rises and employees stay.

Harry Wong - also known as "Dr Happy" - is a neuro-linguistic practitioner who trains people in groups and one-to-one sessions on how to communicate successfully in the workplace by tutoring them on finding self-fulfilment and better communication tools.

Wong's "Success with Happy Coaching One-Day Workshop" on March 30, jointly organised by Classified Post and Kornerstone, is aimed at helping business managers improve their ability to interact and communicate with employees and bosses. The activity aims to provide them with the tools to motivate their staff and be happier people themselves.

Trained as an auditor, Wong was working in Vancouver in the 1990s when he came across a newspaper article about neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Interested, he decided to attend a session. He is now a highly qualified specialist in the practice.

"I often meet people in seminars who say, `I don't need it, there's nothing wrong with me'," Wong says. But, as he explains, his seminars are more about taking a common-sense approach.

"If your staff members are not happy, they will complain, get angry, and eventually leave. As a result, companies [will incur] the cost of retraining new people. If they are happy, they work hard, don't mind staying late, and like their bosses," he says.

It's a rare company that doesn't have dissatisfied staff members, but a negative mindset can always be altered, Wong says.

"I don't change people's thinking," he adds. "Therapy is nothing magical. The effectiveness of these tools has a lot to do with you being able to acknowledge who you are, as a leader and a subordinate."

For the one-day workshop, Wong sits the participants in groups.

"I ask a lot of questions, beginning with the present state - what they have now." he says. "People often negate what they have and should appreciate what they already have achieved. I never tell my students what they need or what they should think.

"Through group discussions business leaders and managers come across common issues [even though they come from] different industries."

As this creates an air of solidarity, people don't feel they have a unique problem. Wong says the next step is to work towards solutions rather than allowing the group to "become a cluster of victims".

"It's a lot easier sometimes to be a victim. But it's important to avoid that and work towards solutions on how people can change their behaviour," he says.

"If you act in an unhappy, angry way, people will react negatively to that. If your attitude is positive and happy, it helps with your own self-fulfilment and will make your staff happier and more open."

While the Happy Coaching seminar is directed at managers, it can be applied to all workers.

"NLP is a philosophy, a mindset that gets you to think: Why don't I just make a small step?" Wong says. "Once you get hold of your own value system, you then know where to focus. So what is important to you, what motivates you?"

The workshop consists of questioning behaviour, discussions and games, including one that involves clapping, Wong says. "They are split into pairs and then have to clap one another's hands," he says. "Soon they are all laughing, because it is fun. Having fun and being happy will lead to increased motivation and a happier workforce."Event details

Event details

Date March 30

Time 9.30am-6pm

Venue 15/F, Hip Shing Hong Centre, 55 Des Voeux Road, Central

Language Cantonese

Fee Standard rate: HK$2,800. Early-bird rate (on or before March 18): HK$1,960

Format One-day workshop with question and answer, group discussions and games

Retrain brain for a happier working life

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a form of psychotherapy founded in the United States in the 1970s by a University of California student, Richard Bandler, and one of his lecturers, John Grinder. In basic terms, it looks at behaviour and the patterns of thought underlying them, with the aim of “rerouting” our neurological pathways.

According to NLP theory, our  brains get set in certain patterns of likes, dislikes, fears and behaviour. What NLP does is challenge those assumptions through such instruments as the Meta Model – a linguistic tool that questions the way people describe events or phobias to get closer to the underlying thought processes.

NLP has had some success in psychological therapy with helping people with phobias, addictions, depression and other disorders by getting them to change their patterns of behaviour and thought processes.

While NLP has proved popular in some sectors, it is not accepted by all as a science. But where it has really  come into its own is in management training, public speaking, self-help and life coaching.

“Many people won’t acknowledge the emotional issues that they have in the workplace. They are in denial,” says Dr Harry Wong, a certified NLP master coach who will be headlining a seminar on happy coaching on March 30, jointly sponsored by Classified Post andKornerstone.

“But once a person accepts he is part of what is going on, he can take ownership and start to deal with  issues. It’s a learning process.” Wong cites the three As – acknowledgement, acceptance and appreciation. “It makes for  increased self-fulfilment. Appreciate what you have, what you have achieved and give yourself a pat on the back. Then move forward with small steps on the behaviour that needs changing,” he says.

NLP can sometimes incorporate hypnotherapy, although in Wong’s seminar it is more about questioning and group  discussions to help participants retrain their brains on how to act in and react to situations to improve working  relationships, achieve their goals – and become happier people.

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