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Is this really how NLP is being taught? Sack the NLP trainers!

A colleague recently told me they had developed a negative perception of NLP.  Naturally, I could always suggest he can change his perception at anytime, as he alone can choose his map of the world.  That might be ‘bad’ NLP which would serve only to re-inforce his already negative perception.

Being a curious sort I was eager to learn, “How did he achieve this perception?”  By listening it became clear he had seen and heard folk who had received a limited amount of training in NLP telling other people they could understand how they were thinking and if they were telling the truth or not.  Becoming even more wantonly curious I asked how could these folk make such determinations?  Apparently, the answer lies in the direction your eyes move!  Well, I nearly fell off my chair!  Oh dear dear dear!  Whoever trained these folk in NLP really does deserve to be sacked and have their training credentials obliterated!  What utter nonsense!!!

Is it any wonder the field of NLP suffers in this way when we have ‘trainers’ with such limited understanding out there.  Is it time to press the reset button on the training of NLP Trainers and so called Master Trainers?  If this is the outcome they are achieving the NLP Trainers are accountable…there’s that word again from my previous blog post! Curious?

Ok, so what is it about the eyes and their movements that can lead people to believe they can tell the inner workings of your very soul?  The simple and honest answer is, absolutely nothing at all! For people to leave an NLP workshop and have that as their understanding suggests the delegates have been ripped off and the trainer needs to refund their delegate’s money because they have not been trained in NLP!

Eye Patterns are a small part of a much larger topic called Representational Systems within the field of NLP.  Encompassing Body Language, Gestures, Posture, breathing patterns, vocal qualities (pitch, tonality, tempo, timbre etc) and the use of word predicates.  Eye patterns are one of many cues you can use to build an understanding of how the person you’re communicating with represents their experience to themselves and then how they communicate their perception of that experience to the outside world.

Do they do this is in a Visual fashion, an Auditory fashion, a Kinaesthetic fashion, Olfactory, Gustatory or do they prefer a dissociated non-sensory Digital manner?  All you can hope to achieve is to put a few pieces of the jigsaw together and then aim to match or mirror their preferences with the aim to build rapport with them.  There is nothing in Representational Systems that gives anyone the ability to determine if another person is lying.

A client I met once to discuss some influencing skills training for a team of business bankers asked if he could, paint me a picture of who I will see on the day? My natural response was to hand my notebook and all the flipchart pens from my rucksack and suggest he makes its as colourful and vibrant as he wishes.  He really went for it!

What would have happened if I replied by asking him to tell me first who was in the team and what their roles are and how long they have worked at the bank?

By receiving a visual cue I followed up and encouraged more visual behaviour.  This is Representational Systems in practise.  Had I followed up with an Auditory and Digital response to the visual cue I would have lost out, rapport would not have been built.  The skill I, as an NLP Trainer, wish my delegates to develop is to be able to respond unconsciously to the cues they receive from others so they can respond effectively.  By judging another person’s response as incorrect simply because it does not form part of a ‘normalised’ pattern is nonsense!  My colleague rightly developed a negative perception having been exposed to such ridiculous behaviour.

If like my colleague you have developed similar negative perceptions feel free to get in touch and I will aim to show you that you can form new understandings.  If you wish to know how NLP can be applied to the world of business and work to get the best levels of performance out of your team in a way that is respectful and ethical please get in touch also.

Finally, NLP was not created.  The foundations of the techniques and patterns were in existence long before the 1970’s when they were pulled together and labelled.  To understand this is important as it creates a sense that if people have been successful in creating change and influence for a much longer time than the last 50 years then the techniques and ideas that support that successful change and influence are credible.  Whether they are called ‘NLP’ or ‘CBT’ or whatever other TLA folk can create is irrelevant.  Change and Influence are fundamental to communication and our programmes are focussed on developing masters of change and influence at work.

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Sustaining the collaborative mindset

In a previous post I touched upon the behaviours associated with the different levels on the maturity continuum.

At the level of Dependency you tend to see Collusive behaviours.  Rather than challenge ideas and processes a dependent individual seeks to avoid risk and conflict in order that their survival is assured.

At the level of Independence the desire for status, recognition and reward drives behaviours that enable the individual to stand out from others.  We see Competitive behaviours.

At the level of Interdependence the quest is for the synergistic solution, a solution that requires the combined efforts of a group and so we see Collaborative behaviours.

What happens when the group searching for the synergistic solution gets into difficulties, when the level of challenge and conflict within the group may get a little too intense? Could it be that rather than choosing to give the response that keeps collaboration alive, an instinct / reactive response is given to a stimulus such as someone challenging an idea?  An instinctive / reactive response is not a PROACTIVE response.

If a group abandons collaborative behaviour the only place to go is back to the competitive behaviours.  When this happens you will see defensive behaviours, blaming, judging emerge.  The group breaks down and the competitive individuals can emerge and seek to dominate proceedings.

How do you sustain the collaborative mindset – where the output of the group is greater than any individual?

The art of collaboration is turning conflict into a positive force – in the spark of conflict lives creativity.  I’ve already discussed the concept of being RESPONSE-ABLE and choosing to be PROACTIVE.  A useful paradigm to help with this is PERCEPTION IS PROJECTION.  Essentially, this maxim suggests that what we perceive in other people is merely a reflection of our own self, otherwise how would we recognize a behaviour in someone else.  Acting as if this is true helps keep relationships collaborative, if making judgments about others (defensive behaviour or competitive behaviour is based upon judgments) is merely describing your own behaviour, why bother?

Being RESPONSE-ABLE and recognising that every behaviour has a positive intention and can be used to propel the group to a synergistic outcome is the way to sustain the collaborative mindset.

In future blogs I will explore more of the attitudes and beliefs that help sustain the collaborative mindset.