Curiosity Certainly Didn’t Kill the Cat

A lot of people ask me what NLP really is and what I gain from using my NLP skills.  Sometimes that’s really hard to answer, as a natural part of learning about NLP is incorporating its philosophies and principles into your everyday life, your habits and the way you think, both consciously and unconsciously. 

It’s a bit like asking a fantastic sales person what makes them great – they’ll try hard to tell you, but they will often only be able to pick out the things that they do consciously and will be far less aware of the unconscious patterns and behaviours that are the differences that actually make the difference and take them from good to great.

Last week I wrote about the Presuppositions of NLP – the fundamental common sense principles that underlie NLP.   In addition to the attitudes created by those presuppositions, you’re also taught at every NLP training course to maintain an attitude of curiosity in understanding your own thinking and behaviour, in understanding someone elses, and a willingness to continually experiment. 

In essence it’s like the old Green Cross Code (for the non-Brits out there that was the way children were and are still taught to cross the road safely in the UK), you need to STOP… LOOK… and LISTEN…  And ask yourself – what does the other person want or for that matter what do you want?  What does the other person have or what do you have? How is it possible for them (or for you) to construct this problem or this situation?    

So why is curiosity so important and what can developing it do for you?  Well, as we all know it can be incredibly easy to make judgements and jump to conclusions from things that happen around us – we grow up asking “why” and develop a need to find reasons for the way people behave, be they truth or fiction.  For example “These people are difficult to please (which means in my head that) I’ll never be able to sell anything to them” or “He hasn’t answered my emails (which means in my head that) he’s not interested in our services……or he doesn’t want to talk to me……or he’s decided he doesn’t like me.”  In those examples we’re placing a negative meaning on someone’s actions, judging a situation and most importantly limiting our own potential, when actually we have no true idea of what their behaviour actually means.  Such negative thinking can only lead to negative consequences.

One of the presuppositions I covered last week was to respect other people’s models of the world.  By acting as if that is true and in addition installing the habit in yourself of being curious, you can then refrain from being judgemental and limiting your own potential.   Being curious allows you to remain open-minded, be more flexible and so you can pursue a different approach to reach your goal.  For example “These people are difficult to please, so I wonder what the top 3 things are that we can do to make them happy that others companies haven’t done” or “He hasn’t answered my emails – I’m curious to find out why.”  Such flexible, curiosity-driven thinking will lead inevitably to more possibilities, will keep doors open and give you a greater likelihood of success.  As I have written before, assuming you know what someone else is thinking, or assuming someone else knows, or should know, what you’re thinking is a dangerous game.

So here are the top three things you can to maximise your chances of success:

  • Nurture you curiosity about the thinking and behaviour patterns of both yourself and of others;
  • Ask questions and avoid being judgemental and jumping to conclusions;
  • Develop your flexibility so you can flex your behaviour to best fit the other person and to have the best chance of achieving success.

Try it out for a day and see how judgemental you’ve been – each time consciously cancel that thinking, hit the delete button, or hear the final whistle blow, and replace that thinking with genuine curiosity.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney Company

© 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.


2 responses to “Curiosity Certainly Didn’t Kill the Cat

  1. Pingback: Drivers in Reverse (Values: Part II) | NLP THIRTEEN

  2. Pingback: 13 Ways NLP Helps You Achieve Success in Business | NLP THIRTEEN

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