Sitting in a very busy Frankfurt airport, having more than 4 hours to kill before my next flight, somehow I started to think about the NLP method of chunking up and chunking down. Seems unrelated from the first glance, but I will try to explain how it came to my mind.

For me an airport was always some kind of a magical, mystical place to be in. Watching all these planes taking off and coming down, this incredible structure and processes that actually support the huge system sometimes blew my mind – how amazingly complicated it seems! For more than a year I watch TV very rarely, but when I can, I always make an exception to watch my favourite show about airport security. 

If you try to understand how this enormous mechanism works (if you have nothing to do with aviation), you might very soon get a headache. But if you start to look closely, you will see that all the people have a certain purpose, specific task to make it all happen. Everything counts, even the smallest steps, smallest efforts ensure that such a big structure as an airport continues to work flawlessly.

And so just like an airport as a whole seems too overwhelming to understand, the same applies to not ordinary, complicated situations in our lives. If you try to comprehend it at once, you will most probably get frustrated. That’s where we can actually use a method of chunking down or zooming in and start eating a big elephant in small pieces. Have you ever heard someone say “Everything in my life is bad, I have no luck, I am good at nothing”? In this case one of the best questions to ask is “What exactly?”. My goal as a coach is to get as many specific details from the client as possible. When a person needs to actually list what exactly is bad, usually pretty soon that list is over with 2 or 3 points and it is obvious – it is not everything! 

The opposite situation – if you try to understand how the airport system works just by watching, for example security check officers, you will never get the pig picture. The same in everyday situations – if you get so stuck in details and can’t get out of a vicious circle and keep worrying about specifics – it will be less and less easy to see the big picture. That’s when we can use chunking up or zooming out – move from details to whole picture – what is a bigger purpose behind those small tasks? After doing this, people often get a good reminder why for example they started that annoying technical task and actually the understanding of it changes dramatically as well.

So there it is, chunking down or chunking up – when you feel overwhelmed by your problems or you feel there is just too much to handle at the moment – use this technique. Do whatever you prefer – write on paper, visualise it, say it out loud – and you will feel better right away.

Interested in trying it out in a coaching session? Drop me a message and let’s chunk!

With best wishes for growth,
Your thinking partner online, in France (Savoie), Switzerland (Geneva region)