|The meeting was attended by the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence. According
to Musharraf, Mullah Omar took offence to a remark by the Saudi, who was there to demand that the
Taliban cease their protection of Osama bin Laden. Visibly furious, Mullah Omar left the room and
then came back a few minutes later -- wringing wet from having given himself a rapid cold shower.
He evidently did that to quell his anger for, on his return, he announced more or less the following:
"If you were not my guest in Afghanistan, I would have done you dire injury. I gave my word to bin Laden
that he could live in Afghanistan if no other country would accept him. No other country has. Osama
fought tirelessly and courageously to rid my country of the Soviet yoke. Now what is he to do? If he has a
grudge against the United States, my understanding is that he has good reason for it."
Although this announcement (a not unreasonable one from Mullah Omar's perspective) is my
paraphrasing, I have little doubt that it is essentially true to what actually happened. Why do I
believe this? Pervez Musharraf was educated at the Artillery School of Pakistan, which my father
helped to found in 1947. My paraphrasing conforms with the essential details provided in Mr.
Musharraf's book, where his terse ways of expressing himself remind me very much of the tersely
veracious ways of speaking of my father, who, in 1947, was attached to the newly formed Pakistan
Army -- as a Lieutenant-Colonel on loan from the British Royal Artillery.
Mullah Omar did not know about IHXENs, of course, but let me quickly make clear to readers that
whether Mullah Omar's views of religion and politics and society were apt for his country is not in
debate here. The essential purpose of my presenting this illustration is to explain that, although
Mullah Omar’s taking a cold shower did enable him to overcome the worst of his anger at that stage of
the proceedings, his articulation of an IHXEN, or more likely a succession of IHXENs as he met with
rejoinders could have assisted him much more. Not only might that course of action have saved a
change of clothes, but the IHXEN's association with the IHYNN process diagrammed in the chart
above would have empowered him to discover his immediate needs at a much more profound level,
and likely also then to articulate them in an attractively authentic way. I think this is probable because
what Musharraf tells us Mullah Omar actually did say strikes me as being at least reasonable in light
of his particular faith and culture.
If he had 'unpacked' his anger fully, perhaps by means of the rational process presented in the chart
above, Mullah Omar might well have avoided making a critical assumption that his mind, seemingly
automatically, had made for him. Before presuming that the Saudi had actually intended to insult
him, he might instead have reflected that the Saudi would have been obliged, both by diplomatic
tradition AND by Muslim tradition between guest and host (and in this case all three counted
themselves Sunni), to clarify his remark. Only an interruption of a virtually automatic (reactive)
impulse to anger would have enabled the Mullah to do this. And a powerfully attractive linguistic
way of doing so would, I believe, have been to say:
"I have anger now. (Pause to let the undoubted authenticity of such an IHXEN be recognized and to provide
time to work through at least a part of the IHYNN process in the chart above). I confess that I have had
difficulty avoiding taking your remark as an insult. Is that what you intended, Your Highness?”
The Saudi would then have been obliged to clarify his remark in such a way that it eliminated all
possibility of insulting the mullah. We can’t be sure, of course, that the Saudi would, in that
hypothetical case, have responded by opening further “space” between the two principals sufficient to
keep them talking. But, in principle, if Mullah Omar had presented the Saudi with that question, the
Saudi would have had that option, and as important, felt obliged to rise somewhat to the occasion of
such a combination of authenticity and grace. Unfortunately, Mullah Omar’s cold shower was not
sufficient to keep present in his mind the possibility that, even if the Saudi’s momentary intent was to
insult him, his more rational and ongoing intention could be teased out otherwise by just such
questions. The curiosity to ask such a clarifying question, which is essential if one is to complete,
without presumption, the third and fourth columns of the process table above, did not, however occur
The consequences of not clarifying the Saudi's intent, in favour of believing that he could read his
interlocutor's mind, were profoundly negative for both Mullah Omar and his Taliban colleagues, as
they were also for many Afghanis and Pakistanis. As we now know, the Saudi returned to report to
his principal that no progress was possible in apprehending bin Laden; and the United States
Government of George W. Bush then decided to bomb an already desperately suffering country -- thus
creating yet more Afghani refugees for Pakistan to support.
|Have you ever noticed how, when experiencing a strong emotion, we often forget or confuse our true
(lasting) needs? Have you ever felt furious with yourself for something you immediately discovered
you didn't like having done? Or railed at someone else who did something you could only then judge
very negatively? Have you ever wondered how much life wisdom may be contained in your
emotions and considered whether you might benefit from tapping into them more skillfully as they
pass through your experience? In short, have you ever wondered about whether you might be able to
channel the energy of your emotions to better, more vital and vitalizing, purposes?
When I have articulated an IHXEN -- "I have 'X emotion' now" I-statement -- I often find I become
sufficiently conscious of what emotional energy is animating my behaviour, to be able to begin to
'unpack' it. But before discussing how that can next be done with an IHYNN ("I have 'Y need' now") I-
statement, I think it worth noting that a research team at the US National Institute for Mental Health
has proven, clinically with fMRI brain scans, that becoming sufficiently conscious of extremely
negative emotions (such as anger and fear) to label them does help us calm our cognitive processes.
Here's a link to the UCLA team's abstract of that research -- research completed in the year 2000.
Novices in the new field of Rational Emoto-Linguistics often initially imagine that the purpose of
practising the IHXEN linguistic is primarily to make one feel better. But this is not quite true. The
purpose of practising IHXENs is to facilitate more rational and reasonable problem-solving than most
of us have, so far, been capable of facilitating/accomplishing. This happens when we become
sufficiently aware of learnings from our more emotionally charged states which help us isolate the
rational ones from the irrational ones and also reasonable ways of expressing ourselves from
Eye-Zen English coaching involves articulation of the IHXEN linguistic, by both coach and client, in
order that both become more conscious of his/her emotions than simply being aware that one or
another experience is either strongly pleasant or strongly unpleasant. The client then becomes able
and thus willing to practice the IHYNN linguistic for identifying his or her true, i.e. long-term non-self-
sabotaging, needs. In IHXEN exchange partnerships, partners learn that the application of what I have
begun to call Eye-Zen English principles, practices, and processes of language usage is an excellent way
to accomplish this end.
Experiences of strong emotion can make or break a partnership or a team. How can we use the energy
of strong emotion to make, or retain, rather than break, relationships? The utterance of an authentic, as
distinct from a rhetorical, IHXEN is virtually always – in my experience and that of the growing group
of IHXEN practitioners now emerging – an immediate 'relationship connector'. This is so even if the
emotion being experienced by the IHXEN practitioner is socially or politically considered
dangerously incorrect. I discovered this about 8 years ago while serving as a pro-bono consultant to
the owner of a small organization of 25 employees whose 'bottom line' was deteriorating alarmingly.
Before then, I had been considering IHXENs as being only likely to be accepted as authentic if the
emotion described fell within a politically correct band near the emotion of concern.
This discovery occurred as the result of my growling out the words "I have anger now" -- when anger
was indeed the quality of my emotion -- in a management meeting at this client's organization. The
upshot was that my client's leadership team immediately fell silent and began to pay what I sensed to
be close visual and auditory attention to me. Then, after a considerable and somewhat electric pause
in the conversation, one of them gently asked: "Why do you have anger, Angus?" Clearly this person and
I had previously developed enough trust in each other for my IHXEN to evoke his expression of
concerned curiosity, and clearly my growl had simultaneously captured at least some of the attention
of the other members of the team.
The pause -- evidently induced by my resort to a culturally incorrect, yet very true while also
INOFFENSIVE, IHXEN -- gave me, and I suspect most in the room, opportunity to do some serious
thinking as to why I had interrupted the conversation. It had also, I suspect, triggered a motivating
embarrassment on the part of some! In any case, the silence and attention that my IHXEN evoked
enabled me to figure out how to get across to the meeting at least something of what the true, rather
than presumptive, cause of my anger was -- in other words to edit my explanation carefully to avoid
blaming anyone else and to take responsibility for my anger. I don't remember much of the specific,
substantive context, but I do remember having some doubts that my explanation would sound fully
authentic. Yet what was of no doubt at all to me was that I had used the energy of my anger in a way
that riveted the attention I believe was necessary in the circumstances for everyone on me.
In other words, my resort to an authentic IHXEN provided an opportunity for me to express myself
clearly authentically, yet without either denying my own pain or triggering another's by a frank
blurting out of a criticism or diagnosis of someone else. I suppose also that the words I found in that
moment of electric silence sprang from a hope deep within me, far interior to my anger, that a positive
change in the behaviour of my client's leadership team would follow. Indeed that is what happened.
After several such 'moments of truth' over the next few weeks, IHXENs became accepted by this group-
forming-into-a-team as a reliable means to begin facilitating resolutions of disputes among them; and
it was only after a few further weeks that the bottom line of my client's distribution and service
enterprise began to rise -- in a couple of months quite sharply. It was also then that I began, for the
first time fully consciously, to have confidence that, even in the dire strait of experiencing a very
politically incorrect emotion, articulation of an honest IHXEN I-statement allows me, and potentially
anyone, to release a genuine but non-insulting feeling, with the result that one can get the attention
one truly needs and at least a short time to consider what that might be. In my case it was a change of
behaviours so that the group might begin producing gains in productivity.
Although the mild emotions we notice usually do help us become aware of our true needs, extreme
emotions often require considerable 'unpacking' before they do so. We often believe we must
suppress expressions of strong emotions. But when we do so often, they rigidify into longstanding
moods, which will then obscure (disconnect us from) what we truly need in a future moment of
challenge. We can, however, learn how to unpack such moods rationally, and the chart below
indicates how. Starting with an "I have 'X emotion' now", where 'X emotion' is a noun, or a modified
noun (but not a clause having any verb), we can discover accurately what we next need by working
through the following rational process:
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|"I strongly believe that to whatever degree I support the consciousness that there is such
a thing as a "careless action" or a "conscientious action", a "greedy person" or a "moral
person", I am contributing to violence on this planet. Rather than agreeing or
disagreeing about what people are for murdering, raping, or polluting the environment, I
believe we serve life better by focusing attention on what we are needing." -- Marshall
Rosenberg, author of "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life" (2003, Puddledancer Press)
Suppose now for a wild moment that Mullah Omar had learned IHXENs in his native Pashto, and that
the Saudi Intelligence Chief had learned IHXENs in his native Arabic. Suppose that before this
meeting they had intensively practiced IHXENs with a coach. Might they have reached a level of
proficiency where they had learned, on feeling anger within, to discover the specifics of the needs that
anger so often obscures by its usual manner of expression in most cultures: a strong desire to punish a
'wrongdoer'? Might the Saudi then have returned to tell his principal that Mullah Omar had
expressed his needs for help in maintaining both his pledge to bin Laden and his desire for friendship
with the United States and its allies?
The process in the schematic above is known as the IHYNN process, after its end-result which is an "I have 'Y'
need now". In this context, I do not suggest that we try immediately to restrict the options we have for what
our needs might truly be, but I do suggest that we study a way of distinguishing what is genuinely a need
from what might more accurately be termed a want, desire, interest, or preference. My paper on that subject
is at this link.
The IHYNN process outlined in the schematic above can be briefly illustrated, I believe, by reference
to a story narrated by former President Musharraf of Pakistan. It is of a meeting in Afghanistan shortly
after 9/11 between Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader and at that time head of the Kabul Government,
and the Saudi prince who was in charge of Saudi Intelligence. The following narrative is drawn from,
but in my words, “In the Line of Fire”, a book by Pervez Musharraf that was published in 2006 while
Musharraf was still the President of Pakistan (Free Press, New York, pp 212-214):
|For an account of Mullah Omar's negotiations
with Saudi and Pakistani officials in the
aftermath of '9/11', see below.