Modus Ponens


  1. the rule of logic which states that if a conditional statement (‘if p then q ’) is accepted, and the antecedent ( p ) holds, then the consequent ( q ) may be inferred.

“Dr it hurts when I do this” alas the answer in life is not always as simple as modus ponens dictates “then don’t do it”.

So when modus ponens doesn’t apply or when we want the other person to come up with the answer themselves we can use modus ponens in a much less obvious way, because for some people the obvious isn’t always obvious and unfortunately this is usually when common sense doesn’t always prevail.

Modus Ponens gives us what I call the ‘If Then Motor’, it’s a coaching tool that gives us a simple way of helping someone to look for the answer themselves, in any interaction, because if a person comes up with their own solution (even with a bit of nudging) it’s far more powerful and creates a lot less resistance than just micromanaging them and telling them what to do.  

The ‘If Then Motor’ is a little conversational routine that I use to help people when they have a problem and need some clarity, it is ideal for people who get stuck in their problem or refuse to accept what they need to do even when the answer is staring them right in the face, and especially when the answer may create confrontation. 

If (event) then (what else could you do?), and if (the last event) then (what else could you do?), and if (the last event) then (what else could you do?)……..and keep repeating until that person is no longer stuck.

Obviously with a bit of practice and using a bit of variation you can make this model flow like normal conversation, you can even change the modal operators (would, could, should try, etc but that’s the subject of another blog).   

So when you hear “Dr it hurts when I do this” perhaps instead of “then don’t do it”, we should instead then ask “what else could you do” and keep the accelerator down on the  ‘If Then Motor’ until the penny drops and the patient drives him or herself out of their problem and into the solution on their own (with only a little bit of help from Modus Ponens).

Bibliography and References


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.