The brain is amazing. But it never came with an instruction book, which is why we struggle to figure out how it works. That’s where Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) comes in. First developed as a way to figure out how successful people think and act, NLP uncovers our talents, improves our relationships, and makes us more effective in all areas of our life.
“NLP helps us get out of our own way,” writes Ken Strong in NLP in Business and in Life. “We build up an arsenal of often-unconscious ways of reacting to certain situations in our lives, and often those reactions have become outmoded and unproductive. If we identify and become conscious of those unproductive reactions, we can choose to change them, thereby removing roadblocks to our progress in creating the lives we really want.”
Basic Principles of NLP
“NLP operates on the basic assumption that reality is subjective,” Strong explains. “[Instead] of assuming that there is an objective, single reality out there that we all participate in, it focuses on how each individual experiences and perceives reality from inside.” In other words, NLP is focused on what works and not on what is ‘true’.
The way we think and act is based on our tendency to link new events to old ones that appear similar. This is why we end up reacting the same way even when it’s not justified by the specific situation. NLP helps us become conscious of our beliefs and filters so we can choose better responses. It also gives us the space to try new behaviours that might be more productive.
NLP in Business
Our minds are capable of anything. That means we already have all the skills we need to solve our problems. NLP simply helps create new brain pathways between the problem and the solution so we can access these latent abilities.
The ability to communicate is a key to success. By ‘modelling’ the verbal and nonverbal skills of the most successful people, we can achieve what they have. This involves speaking to others in the same dominant style they are using. The three main kinds are:
- Visual (“That looks good”, “I see what you mean”)
- Auditory (“That sounds good”, “I hear what you’re saying”)
- Kinaesthetic (“This doesn’t feel right”, “I sense you’ve got a point”)
Know What You Want
You can have whatever you want as long as you’re clear about what it is and why you want it. You’ve also got to find a balance between making your goals too easy and making them too hard. Then you need to take action and stay flexible to increase your chances of success.
Anchoring is a way to tap into powerful unconscious desires to get a response you want. It works by associating a memory or feeling with something else. That’s why the theme from Jaws (which is actually taken from Dvorak’s famous symphony) might make you think of sharks!
“When you’re in any kind of a communication transaction with another person, whether it’s trying to sell to a client or communicate with your boss, a friend, or your spouse, the process for getting the type of response you want is pretty straightforward,” Strong writes. “Simply ask the other person to remember some past experience that you know will bring out the type of response you’re looking for.” It will be easier to convince them if they’re in a certain state of mind.
I’ve heard a lot about NLP but this book was the first one I’ve read on the subject. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong place to start. I’m not sure if the problem is with the author or with NLP itself. Either could be true.
Let’s start with the book. It mostly comes across as a badly organised sales pitch. And the idea of NLP itself doesn’t seem very scientific. It’s all treated as an experiment where things may or may not work. And there aren’t any rules because everyone’s approach is unique. But you should just keep trying. Oh, and you should adjust your approach. Or whatever.
Maybe there are better sources out there but I’m not convinced. None of this seems remarkably new and dressing it up with fancy technology terms doesn’t help. The advice to mirror the verbal and nonverbal cues you get from who you’re interacting with is nothing new. Neither is the advice for setting goals.
Perhaps sticking to the tested principles instead of chasing the latest fad is the best approach after all.
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