So there’s NLP in the title of my blog and I keep mentioning it in my posts, so perhaps I should get on and explain what it is. And OK, let’s get this straight right away…..this won’t be a short post!
So how did I come across NLP in the first place? Well, I was in outsourcing and managing relationships between companies – in this case the biotech I was working for and a variety of service companies that helped us run studies on the new drugs we were developing. What was evident was that these relationships were built entirely on people, we certainly weren’t buying paper clips, and in many instances our work succeeded or failed depending on effective communication between those people, particularly between the two project managers from each company. But communication seemed to be a continuous uphill struggle, crossed wires were exceedingly common and total breakdowns were not unheard of…… So I started to hunt for some training in relationship management that could help. But every course I could find taught how to select a preferred provider, how to put in place a governance structure and other practical topics……….all interesting of course, but not really the soft skills for communication that I wanted. And then a friend mentioned NLP…..
So what is NLP? Well those letters stand for Neuro-linguistic Programming. Neuro refers to the nervous system (the mind), through which our experience is processed via five senses – visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), kinesthetic (what we feel), olfactory (what we smell) and gustatory (what we taste). Linguistic refers to language and other nonverbal communication systems through which our neural representations are coded, ordered and given meaning – those include pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells and words (self talk). And finally programming refers to the ability to discover and utilize the programs that we run (our communication to ourselves and others) in our neurological systems to achieve our specific and desired outcomes.
Now if you’re like me I’d be saying to myself, well thanks, very kind of you to explain, but that’s about as clear as mud. So what really is NLP and why would you want to learn about it?
Let’s take that last part first – why learn about NLP? Quite simply NLP can provide you with tools to enable you to achieve your specific goals successfully and consistently in all areas of your life. NLP can help you build and maintain rapport with people – a key component of any successful relationship, be it at work or at home. It can help you communicate and influence more effectively. It can help you fine tune your senses so you are more sensitive to other people’s reactions and their non-verbal communication, be that via routes such as their tone of voice or body language, so you can read people more effectively. NLP can help replace conflict in a relationship with trusting collaboration. It can enhance your performance in meetings, presentations and negotiations and it can help you be truly exceptional at setting effective and compelling goals for yourself and others. It can help you develop greater flexibility in responding to your environment and the events that occur around you – the more flexible you are in your behavior the more likely you will achieve your goals. As Forrest Gump’s Mama always said “Life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get”. NLP can help you control your emotional state and as a result better control your behavior. Need I go on?
On the simplest level you could call NLP advanced communication skills – with that communication being both within yourself and also with other people. NLP provides a set of tools to increase your self-awareness and flexibility such that you can massively change how you perform in your chosen situation. Think of how amazing it would be if you could connect so easily and effortlessly with other people that you could communicate or even sell any idea to them – be that a pay rise to your boss or getting the kids to go to bed on time!
So how are we doing – still clear as mud or is the mist starting to clear?
NLP was initially developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970’s. Their goal was to discover and model certain people that were excellent communicators – from these models grew a collection of techniques for rapidly changing thoughts, behaviors and beliefs that previously limited a person’s development or actions. These techniques are now commonly known as NLP. NLP explores the relationship between how we think (neuro), how we communicate both verbally and non-verbally (linguistic) and our patterns of behavior and emotion (programmes). NLP is a set of guiding principles, attitudes, methodologies and techniques you can apply in real life. It gives you choice – choice to choose your behavior, your emotional state and your physical state of wellbeing by understanding how both your mind and other people minds work.
NLP enables you to discard limiting beliefs and the baggage of negative emotions that can hold you back and weigh you down. I’ll be coming back to limiting beliefs in another post soon – but just think on this for now – if you say you can’t do something, for example, I can’t be a great presenter, who’s decided that and when exactly did you decide? Who can eliminate that unhelpful limiting belief and decide to make you into a fantastic presenter?
So how are we doing – has the sun come out yet?
NLP requires you to invest in an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to experiment. It encourages you to STOP…LOOK….LISTEN…. Now when did you last really do that? NLP is about noticing patterns – is there a pattern that emerges in the way you or someone else behaves in a certain situation? What is it that you or the other person want? What do you or they have? How is it possible for you or for them to construct this problem? Much of NLP may seem to be common sense, but remember what is common sense to you may well not be common sense to the next person.
So if you want to challenge yourself, throw off those old limiting decisions that have held you back for so long and achieve those BIG, amazing, life changing goals that you’ve always dreamed of then keep reading. Now if you’re not sure what those goals even are we’ll be coming back to how to set those goals in a future post too. :o)
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