EVER wondered how to get people to do what you want without strong-arm tactics? Dr Duncan Bury has the answer.
Ever felt stuck? Career going nowhere? Team at work lost their buzz? Kids won’t do what they’re told? Relationship stagnant? Dr Duncan Bury reckons you might be going about things all the wrong way.
The man behind the Miascape thinking academy claims his revolutionary methods can change the way you and people around you think and behave, inspiring governments to thrive, businesses to success and teenagers to tidy up. “Human thinking is fundamentally flawed,” he explains. “Learning to understand and manage our thinking and influence others is the ultimate empowerment.”
Making people do what you want? It all sounds a little manipulative to me. Bury gasps. “Don’t say that! Manipulative is ‘I win, you lose’. Everything we do is based around win-win. For me, when you influence someone or give them insight, if they come out of it in a better place that is ethical. If you manipulate people to your own ends, that’s shocking. It’s about bringing the best out of people.
“It’s not secret hypnosis,” he adds. “I’m not able to get people to do things like shoot the president.”
So we’re talking basic psychology, right? “No, we’re talking sophisticated psychology,” counters Bury.
“We are operating at what we call the bleeding edge of psychology, developing new approaches to transforming people’s thinking. We are unique. Nobody else is doing this at all.”
With a PhD in engineering from Cambridge University, Bury worked in the automotive industry for years before moving to Scotland in 1996. Here he met psychologist Jane Buick, now his wife and business partner, and in 2004 the couple set up Miascape in Cockenzie, East Lothian. Their high-profile clients have included the NHS, the Scottish Government and even the UN. “A Miascapian is someone who knows they want to do something but are stuck,” he says.
“They might be someone who has a dysfunctional team at work or they want to change their lifestyle. Organisations might say, ‘Why can I not engage my staff?’ Well, are you just telling them to be better people, to sell more, to behave better? That’s not going to have an effect until their thinking changes and they believe that’s the best thing to do.”
Some clients claim the methods changed their lives, and used the thinking in every area, from work to relationships to family life. Bury has four children and two stepchildren, so he’s no stranger to negotiating with teenagers. So how do I employ Miascape thinking to get my 15-year-old to wash dishes? “At the moment, you say, ‘Do the dishes,’” says Bury. “Then he’ll say, ‘I can’t because I want to go on my PlayStation, or because I want to do this and that.’
“But turn the question around and say, ‘If you had done the dishes, how would you have done that?’ He would say, ‘Well, you would have had to let me play for five minutes on my PlayStation, then you would have had to let me call my friends up the road, then I would have done it.’ Fair enough. It’s about turning the question around.”
Now I’m getting the hang of things, we move on to promotion at work. So how do I get it? “We talk about unwritten rules,” says Bury. “For instance, if you have every qualification in the world and have been on every training course and are still not getting promoted, the unwritten rule is, ‘You don’t have to go on every training course to get promoted.’ It’s the unwritten rules that inform you how your organisation runs. Once you understand those you can make progress.”
Some of his work has been helping NHS Scotland manage devastating cuts and the Scottish Government’s communications team deal with its evolving role within a changing country. “There’s always talk about people being resistant to change,” says Bury. “They’re not, they’re reacting to situations they find themselves in. If you understand the context and help people think it through, they can move on.
“What we say to managers is, ‘Don’t manage actions, manage reactions.’ Actions are really easy. ‘I’m going to do this, you’re going to move that desk over there, you’re going to do it on Friday, brilliant.’ The important thing to think through is how that person is going to react to you.”
The firm runs one-day introductory sessions for individuals. “It could be a person who looks after the home and feels stuck in the house,” says Bury. “Or someone who feels stuck in their job or stuck in a relationship – though I would stress that we are not counsellors. If we come across a counselling issue, we stop and find a counsellor.”
At its heart, however, is a simple premise. He says, “We inspire you to do something different.” n
• Inspire day courses, £90 (www.miascape.com)