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What is Neuro Linguistic Programming?

Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP as it is more commonly known, is based on learning to communicate with ourselves and others by observing styles of speech and actions, enabling us to adapt successfully to any situation.

In this article, we will concentrate on the art of effective communication through observing others' patterns of expression and behaviour. It's about understanding the way in which people think, feel, communicate and act. You will discover that being able to 'read' people is a very powerful tool in achieving the desired response from those with whom you are interacting.

How often have you said, "I wish I really knew what he/she was thinking." By mastering the basics of NLP, you really are one step closer to tapping into others' thought processes, moving you towards more successful relationships, both personally and professionally.

Who created NLP?

NLP was created by Dr. Richard Bandler PhD, in the early 1960s, while he was a student at the University of California Santa Cruz. Whilse there, he joined forces with Dr. John Grinder PhD, Professor of Linguistics and together they defined a structure for the language that we use that either hampers or helps us to achieve our goals. NLP is now used worldwide, particularly in the business world, as an effective tool towards achievement in many fields.

What does Neuro Linguistic Programming actually mean?

Neuro: This refers to the way in which we process information through our senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting.

Linguistic: This refers to the way in which we use language to communicate with others.

We all fall into three main categories:

a) Visual: These people use "seeing" words, e.g. clear, hazy, colour, view, appear, outlook, foresee, imagine

b) Auditory: These people use "hearing" words, e.g. listen, hear, call, sound, talk, discuss

c) Kinaesthetic: These people use "feeling" words e.g. touch, feel, warm, smell, fear, comfortable

Visual people use terms such as, "I see what you're saying", "In my view" or "I have a clear picture of that". They prefer to see things written down and are stimulated by visual images.

Auditory people use terms such as, "I hear what you're saying," "It's my understanding" or "We're in tune with each other". They are stimulated by sounds and prefer to hear things rather than see them.

Kinaesthetic people use terms such as, "I feel that", "I can't grasp that" or "I fear that" and are guided by their emotions.

Programming: This refers to the way in which we organise information to achieve desired results

Building a Rapport with People

In What Situations Can I Use Rapport?

* Personal Relationships

* Business Relationships

* When liasing with colleagues, particularly when you want their cooperation or wish to introduce new concepts

* For effective sales negotiations

* To maintain long-lasting customer relationships

* To dispel anger and calm someone down

* In an interview situation

* When you're giving presentations or training people


Listening

The first rule of NLP is learning to listen to the language that other people use to try and establish into which category they fall. What terms do they use when they are expressing an opinion? If they say, "The way I see it.." this indicates that they are 'Visual', if they say, "I hear what you're saying", they are probably 'Auditory' and if they say , "I feel that...", this signifies that they are 'Kinaesthetic.' Obviously, some people will overlap from one system to another, which means that they will able to communicate more effectively with more people.

Naturally, once you have identified into which category the person falls, you can consciously adapt your language accordingly, instantly helping you to build a rapport.

Proactive and Reactive Language

As well as determining whether someone is Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic, listen to whether they use proactive or reactive language. Do they use active or passive verbs? This will indicate to you whether they are leaders or followers.

Cue Framing

Cue Framing is based on the principle that people are motivated by certain cues that influence their decision and, in a purchasing situation, can make them feel comfortable to buy a product. Cue framing helps you understand people in a way that is often overlooked by more traditional marketing methods. This explains why some exceptional products that appear to have a huge competitive advantage over others, still don't sell.

"Toward Frame" and "Away From" Frame of Reference

Establishing whether a person has a "Toward" or "Away From" frame of reference can be extremely valuable when attempting to secure a deal with a customer. People with a Toward frame of reference are generally seeking to fulfil a goal or move towards pleasure. People with an Away From frame of reference are generally seeking to resolve a problem or move away from pain. Identifying into which category a person falls can help you to tailor your sales and marketing approach accordingly.

Procedural and Optional Frame of Reference

Again, people usually fall into one of two categories. Those with a "Procedural" frame of reference like to follow a routine, whereas those with an "Options" frame of reference prefer to create their own methods. A Procedural person would, for example, prefer to enter a supermarket where all the products were laid out in a logical, categorised manner, whereas an Options' person would prefer to shop in a store with a more chaotic layout. In this type of situation, it would be prudent to identify the frame of reference of the store's best customers.

This principle can be applied in all aspects of sales and marketing, down to the design of your leaflets and brochures. A Procedural person would prefer to read a brochure with a table of contents, organised by category and an Options' person would prefer to be surprised by a more random layout in an illogical order.

Body Language

Observing non-verbal signals is a fundamental part of NLP. As well as listening to what the other person is saying, it is important to notice their body language. If a person sounds sincere, for example, but constantly touches their nose as they speak, this indicates that they could either be lying or are not entirely sure about what they are saying. Similarly, someone who sits with his hands tightly clasped without gesticulating at all, could also be lying and is making a conscious effort not to move his hands in order to avoid betraying his insincerity.

Mirroring someone's actions can create an instant rapport. If, for example, someone is sitting with his or her legs crossed towards you, you will instantly make them feel more comfortable by sitting with your legs crossed towards them. If someone leans forward to pick up their drink, mimicking their actions will make them subconsciously feel as though they are on the same wavelength as you.

Eye Accessing Cues

Did you know that the way in which we move our eyes when we are communicating - either with ourselves or others - can give away huge clues? It can even betray whether or not we are lying. The direction in which our eyes look can convey which area of our brain we are accessing, whether it be, for example, recalling genuine memories, constructing scenarios or remembering sounds.

Visual Construct: The eyes look up to the top right-hand corner (top left if you are observing someone else) when constructing visual images. If you ask someone a question about an event that happened and their eyes move in this direction, it could be a sign that they are lying because they are visually constructing, rather than remembering, a particular scenario.

Visual Remember: The eyes look up to the top left-hand corner (top right if you are observing someone else) when accessing visual memories. When questioning someone about an incident, if their eyes move in this direction, they are probably telling the truth because they are recalling actual memories.

Auditory Construct: The eyes look horizontally to the right (or horizontally to the left if you are observing someone else) when you are constructing new sounds. If, for example, someone asks you to imagine what a set of bagpipes would sound like played under water, your eyes would move in this direction, if this was a sound that you had never actually heard before. This is the direction in which the eyes would move if you were asked to recall a conversation with someone and you were constructing it i.e. lying or constructing, rather than recalling a true account.

Auditory Remember: The eyes look horizontally to the left (or horizontally to the right if you are observing someone else) when you are recalling sounds from memory. If you were asked to recall what a violin sounds like, this is the direction in which your eyes would move because it is a sound that you have actually heard before. Likewise, if you were asked to recall a conversation, your eyes would move in the same direction if you were to give an accurate account of a discussion that had actually taken place.

Auditory Digital (Auditory Internal Dialogue): The eyes look downwards to the left (or downwards to the right if you are observing someone else) when you are listening to your internal voice (sometimes known as "that little voice inside your head"). You would look in this direction if you were, for example, asked a hypothetical question such as, "What would you do if....."

Kinaesthetic: The eyes look downwards to the right (or downwards to the left if you are observing someone else) when you are accessing the "feelings" sector of your brain. If someone, for example, asks you how you feel about a particular person or issue, this is the direction in which your eyes would move. This sector includes emotions and all "feeling" sensations such as pain, pleasure, taste, temperature etc.

Putting Your Knowledge Into Practice

The best way to practice is by asking a friend specific questions, e.g. What colour is your car? Divide 600 by 12. Imagine a pink giraffe with blue triangles, and so on and noting in which direction their eyes move.

It is important to remember that everybody is different and that whilst most people will look in the same direction when asked, for example, the colour of their car, some people may tell themselves what the colour of their car is. You may also find that a left-handed person will move their eyes in the opposite directions to the chart given above.

Conclusion

Only by studying the individual with whom you are interacting and noting everything from the terminology they use, to their body language and eye accessing cues, can you really obtain an accurate picture. However, you will find that as you pay more attention to the signals that other people send out, you will soon become aware of the meaning of these signals, enabling you to read and react accordingly. With a little practice, you will notice a dramatic improvement in the your ability to successfully manipulate your communication with other people, enhancing both professional and personal relationships.


Excellent Reading: Frogs Into Princes - Richard Bandler & John Grinder
Changing Belief Systems With NLP - Robert Dilts
Improve Your People Skills - Peter Honey