I love change – if things don’t change fast enough for me then I generally start changing them on purpose. That’s been a significant factor in my career, as you’ll probably see if you look at my CV! But in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry in which I work “Change is the only constant.” (Herakleitos, Greek philosopher c.535 BC – 475 BC) – whether you’re working in the rollercoaster world of small biotech or in the world of re-invention otherwise currently known as big pharma.
In a recent post “How to Measure a Personality?” I introduced a great NLP tool – Meta Programs – the conversational personality profile you can use to learn about a person’s model of the world anytime and anywhere. The Meta Program filter related to stability and change is the Relationship Filter (aka Matching and Mismatching). This filter is one of most important parts of a person’s personality and is integral to the process of understanding and deciding. It can be used to predict if a person will change jobs frequently and how they will deal with change.
The Relationship Filter is all about whether you look for similarities or differences. Some people will look for similarities to understand something and will match what you’re saying to what they know or match the pieces of data to each other, while others will look for differences first. And of course some people do a combination of both to varying degrees. Sales people tend to be natural or trained matchers, looking for similarities. Remember rapport? Well rapport is an exercise in sameness and similarities – behaviorally matching and thinking the same as someone else.
On the other hand accountants and auditors are trained to look for differences. Imagine if you’re a manager that loves change and you’re managing a team that needs sameness and stability. Knowing their preferences will help you adapt your behaviour to your team. You’ll be able to frame information to give them stability, to make them feel secure in their jobs or give them enough change and differences to keep them interested and motivated.
So how can you find out a person’s preference for sameness/stability or differences/change? The easiest way is to lay down three similar, but not quite identical things on a table – coins of the same denomination, but minted in different years are perfect. Ask “What is the relationship between these 3 coins?” Listen to see if the person starts to point out similarities between the coins, differences between the coins or a combination of both. In addition here are some other questions you can ask and of course you can always come up with your own:
- What is the relationship between what you were doing a month ago and what you’re doing now?
- When you walk into a room what do you notice first? Do you often see a picture at an angle?
- What is the relationship between how you feel today and how you felt yesterday?
Once you think you know a person’s preference you can check by asking “On average, how long have you stayed in a job?”. As you’ll find out, how long someone stays in a job will often hint at their preference or in this case confirm it. The farther they are towards differences, the more likely they are to change job more frequently to fulfill the change they desire.
Sameness people – in a new situation they’ll first determine if it’s the same, i.e. match’s, their previous experience – see no reason to change – want stability and for their world to stay the same – likely to stay in a job many years or even for life – may be upset by what they perceive as too much change and so look for a new job.
Sameness with exception people – see mostly sameness first, then point out exceptions to it – desire limited change and innovation in their work – on average change jobs every 5 to 7 years.
Sameness and differences equally people – see sameness and differences equally when trying to understand something – seek change and diversity while also valuing stability – change jobs every 3 to 5 years.
Differences with exception people – see differences first and then similarities – I’m doing ‘this’ now and I was doing ‘that’ then, but they are basically the same – need variety and differences in their work – likely intolerant of routine – stay in a job 1½ to 3 years.
Differences people – see only differences – want to do things differently every time – reorganize and create change for changes sake – very rare – incredibly creative – may have trouble seeing patterns or similarity – go into a room and can immediately tell you what is out of place – stay ≤ 1½ years in a job.
Understanding your colleagues, your family or your friends preference for stability or change can be a very useful insight into that persons model of the world. Perhaps it may even explain why your spouse insists on the moving the furniture around every few weeks! When I think back to when I first started work my mother used to say – 6 months to learn a job, 6 months to do a job and 6 months to get bored with a job. So with my love of change I wonder who my role model was as a child?!
© Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.