NLP and the need for thoughtful communication

Adriana James of ABNLP recently also asked me to contribute an article to her blog and here is the respective link.

Nevertheless, here is the short version of the story and actually, it begins with my journey into NLP.

Asia Mind Dynamics - Influential Communications
Asia Mind Dynamics – Influential Communications

You see, the “L” in NLP stands for Linguistics, and yes, it is a huge part of Neuro Linguistic Programming. It is about how do you use language to influence yourself and others to achieve your goals, and help others to overcome their challenges to reach their goals.

When I started off in my journey into NLP, and, later, training people to get their NLP Certifications, I didn’t like the linguistic part. It didn’t click with me. I was happy, when it was over, and I could move into the “P” of NLP – the Programming part.

Something happened in my early career as NLP Trainer, which changed my mind. And from that point onwards, I totally love the linguistic part. In fact, I believe it is our strength.

And along the way, I realised that there is a lack of knowledge in many parts of the NLP community about the usage of language in their training.

It’s not always been taught correctly, and some parts are missing. In our training for participants that join our NLP Practitioner Training, we added in quite a bit additional material to make our NLP training even more impactful.

The “Actual” Article

“We communicate every day and nearly every moment in our life. Only if you are living in a cave far, far away, and you are spared from interacting with other people – wouldn’t you need to communicate, at least not with other people.

But the moment you encounter another person, you start communicating.  Be it through body language or the “real” words that come from your mouth.  Remember, we cannot not communicate.

Communication and the ability to express yourself succinctly is important. Everybody agrees with this.

And you too can surely remember the moments in your life, when good communication really counted.

The moment in a hardcore negotiation, when it comes down to not only keeping your nerves, but saying the right thing at the right time. Or if you are interviewing for a new job, you need to be on your toes and formulate an irresistible response to a tough question from the interviewer. The trainer or public speaker that needs to be able to think fast to formulate an outstanding responses to hecklers or those with objections to your material. A politician needs to be able to entice the audience, over and over again.  Think of the telemarketer, who makes a living through a greatly formulated script. Or simply the parent whose child refuses to clean up the room, or study for the next exam.

But we all remember times when we didn’t say the right thing and our case fall apart.  When the nerves took over, and the words came out in an awkward manner.  And we wished we could take back the words just spoken. We left the room, beaten, and once again smothered to the ground.

And if you are like the rest of us, don’t we remember exactly, what we should have said, how we should have said it, and what was missing – after the fact?

The question simply is – how is it possible that it is so hard to say the right thing at the right time? We believe we are well educated, well spoken, have our arguments ready, should know what to say and how to counter objections or master our emotions. Didn’t we learn this in school, in presentation skills training, leadership courses and you name what! Why is it that it still feels like an insurmountable task?

Despite all this training, something went wrong, again!

Many of you might have heard the famous NLP Presupposition that “There is no Failure, Only Feedback”.

Still, don’t you agree that sometimes, you’d rather succeeded than just gaining another feedback session?

Pink Floyd sang the song “Another Brick in the Wall”, and it feels exactly like this – the wall just grew higher.

After too many of such perceived failures a while, most people stop trying to get better in communication. We hate to go for interviews, give all kind of excuses to avoid going on stage for a speech, feel bad about the fight we have had with our children.

Frustration grows and we start regretting.

Deep inside of us however, we still wish we could speak like that that we admire as great speakers. We sit there in silence gasping at oratory skills of others.

But it is all there!! Available to you, at any moment! Don’t you know?

I remember one specific moment, when my own wake-up call into the power of language came.

At that time, I actually was a NLP Trainer already, but felt most comfortable with the “real” stuff in NLP.  “Anchoring, swish pattern, or submodalities seemed so much easier. I knew the Linguistic Sections, inside out, but still, I didn’t feel good about it.

When it was time to prepare for another NLP Practitioner training, I flipped through the pages of the manual in a relaxed manner. Suddenly, a sentence struck me: “The Desired Outcome of the Language Section Is For All Participants To Be Able To Successfully Use Language To Produce Their Desired Results Using Language By Chunking Up Or Down To Levels Of Greater Ambiguity Or Specificity”.  I knew the sentence, of course, I read before numerous times, but somehow, that was the moment, something shifted inside of me!

I suddenly remembered Adriana’s saying “The Language Section in NLP is designed to start using language with volition”.

Wow, this hit me and it felt real – I suddenly realized that everything in life is about language.  It seems like a normal statement but think about it carefully!

We communicate constantly and not just in the training room. With the salesperson in the retail outlet, or the waiter that serves us food in the restaurant. With the client who wants to sign up for our coaching session. To our children who need to stay motivated to succeed in school. We communicate anytime, anywhere. It’s all about the purposeful use of language, words, gestures and tonality to direct someone’s thoughts and feelings to a different outcome.

From that moment onwards, my thirst for language and influence exploded. I made a crucial decision.  I decided that I wouldn’t stop until I was able to utilise all the language tools in NLP and then some more (learning never stops!!).  I even quantified my outcome. It was my goal to be able to restructure someone’s limiting belief into a resourceful state in 5 minutes of less.

To follow through, I sat down and studied all the NLP tools again.

You know, which one I mean. The Meta Model, the Milton Model, Linguistic Presuppositions, Reframing or Sleigh of Mouth, Quantum Linguistics, Meta Programmes or the Unconscious Filters and much, much more.

Life is about influence and if you are able to influence other people, your life will be so much easier. You spent less energy on “trying to put your point across” or “argue for your point”. You experience less frustration, because people actually listen to you. You save tons of time, because everything becomes more fluid, and your life becomes more relax.

NLP really gives you real life tools to succeed.

By the way, I achieved the goal mentioned 6 months after I made that commitment. During a conference, I came across a woman who said, in a sad tone of voice: “I will never be able to present to a larger audience”. Using Sleight of Mouth alone, I restructured her belief to something like “I actually believe that it could be quite fun to present to people and get my point across.” It took me 41/2 minutes.   A while later, I utilised my skills in Meta Programme to understand a potential client’s inner filter systems. Adjusting my language to her thinking style, we were able to enter the company and turned it into a large and important client of ours.

Along the line, I also realized that no matter what your language and influencing skills are, it really is also about listening to the person you interact with. As an influencer, we need to understand, where someone comes from and pick them up in their Model of the World. Not expecting them to come to ours. This also means that we need to make sure, that whatever we propose is “ecological” for them as well.   But this is a different topic altogether.”


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