NLP and Business

By: Richard Butler

There are four key corner stones to NLP. These cornerstones will help you understand more about NLP and why it works so effectively.

Cornerstone 1: Outcomes

This cornerstone is concerned with what you actually want. The outcome can be from a business meeting, a project you are working on or a personal goal. Many people don’t have outcomes and don’t know what they want. When this happens they “go with the flow”, suddenly end up in a place they don’t want to be in and then wonder how they got there.

Outcomes are important, as once a person knows what they want they can then put processes into place that will help them reach and achieve their goals. When looking at outcomes NLP refers to them as Well Formed Outcomes – something you will see later in this course.

At this point one thing to remember is that getting what you want will affect your whole life in some way. It is important to understand that there is a price to pay for each outcome. For example if your outcome is to be promoted in work you may need to work harder and longer hours. This can affect your personal/family life. We will examine this in more detail during the Goals and Well Formed Outcomes module.

Cornerstone 2: Sensory Acuity

How much do you notice about a situation? Some people will remember every detail others will remember very little of a situation. Sensory acuity looks at improving your skills at observing situations more closely.

Exercise 1

Take 2 minutes to describe your watch in detail (without looking at your watch!):

Does it have a second hand?

If so does it move smoothly around the watch face?

What colour is the watch face?

Is there writing on it?

If so what colour?

Is your watch analogue or digital?

In the case of analogue are the numerals roman or standard?

In the case of digital is it 24 hour or are the letters am/pm displayed beside the time?

Is there a date function on your watch? Where is located on the face?

How many links are on your watch strap if metal?

If your watch is leather or made from another material what colour is it?

For many people the above exercise is quite difficult. Their watch is something they use everyday but may take little notice of it. Sensory Acuity looks at making you more aware of everything that is important going on around you. When you increase sensory acuity you tend to see things that others don’t.

Application to Business

Sensory acuity can help you in business as you will more aware of little movements in the body, or change in tone of voice, or perhaps when meeting a client you will see something on their desk or in their office that will help you understand them better. In a sales situation you will see the hesitant customer as you talk to them. You will see the subtle changes in skin colour that may indicate that the person is open to what you are saying or not!

The more observant you can be the more you will be able to identify use situations to help you get closer to your outcomes.

Cornerstone 3: Flexibility of Behaviour

There’s a saying “if you do the same things the same way you will get the same results” seems obvious but many of us follow this procedure time and time again and then wonder why the results achieved are always the same.

In order to reach your outcome you must be flexible in your behaviour. If a particular process you are using is not working reflect on what is going wrong and then change that behaviour, if this does not work change your behaviour again. The downfall of many people is that they do the same thing time and time again and never get different results.

Application to Business

Tom works in sales. He is very successful in the sales pitch but finds that he can’t go for the yes and gain closure. He wonders why this happens and does not realize his problem with the process he is running. After a while he decides to get help and is shown where he can improve. By changing one small part of the process he can now close sales in an effective manner.

In the fictional example above Tom was doing the same thing and getting the same results. When he decided to change part of the process he reaped the rewards. It is important to remember that you should continue to use what works for you but always be prepared to change what does not work. Remember that every client, business meeting will be different, therefore there is not a one fits all solution.

Cornerstone 4: Rapport

Have you been out and met someone and just clicked with them? You don’t know why but you just get on so well. There may be someone in your workplace who you can’t get on with, or in fact someone may not get on with you.

Unless you plan on not dealing with anyone except machines you will need to develop the skill of rapport. In the first part of the example above you just clicked with the person, in NLP terms you were in rapport with the person. You were both comfortable in each others company. If you look at two people who are getting on really well you will often see that they walk at the same pace, or pick up their drink at the same time or sit the same way. When two people are not in rapport it is easy to tell by their body language.

NLP sees rapport as an essential part of human communication and believes that there are subtle ways of ensuring you build rapport quickly and easily. When you develop your rapport skills you will see people warming to you instantly. In a later module you will see how to develop rapport with another person.

Application to Business

When you learn to build rapport quickly you will see that it will be easier to communicate with people and close that sale or finish that project. Good sales people are masters of building rapport – although they made do it unconsciously. Once you are in rapport the other person will be more willing and open to your suggestions.

It is important to study the above 4 cornerstones and to internalize them. These four cornerstones are the key to your success with NLP and your life.

NLP presuppositions

A presupposition is something that is taken as a fact without proof. Presuppositions are constantly used in the media and advertising. Take the following sentence:

Do you want a cup of tea now or after dinner?

What is presupposed is that the other person wants a cup of tea. The person many not have been thinking about having a cup of tea however you have suggested it to them, that it is a fact that they are having a cup the only choice they have is whether to have it now or later!

Application to Business

People in general are open to suggestion. The person who knows this and suggests things can often get to their outcome more successfully. A sales manager may say to his team: “I don’t mind which method you use to reach your monthly sales target.” The presupposition is that the person will reach their sales target – that is the given. This type of language can be more motivating and encouraging. The sales person now is thinking ok I am going to reach the target it just is up to me to select the method.

Advertisers use presuppositions a lot. When a person grasps the concept of using presuppositions they can be come very persuasive as the open people up to suggestions

NLP has a number of presuppositions. Again they are given as fact, however it is not claimed that they are true. When you begin to study them and use them you will see that they are in fact very useful and true.

Below are listed some of the main presuppositions

The map is not the territory

This is the most famous presupposition of NLP. Any books that you will read on NLP discuss this very important metaphor.

Think of a map. The map is simply a representation of the area it is depicting. It is not what the real area actually looks like. It is close but not the same.

Think of a menu in a restaurant – is that the actual food or simply a representation of the food? It is true to say it is only a representation.

This is relevant to our lives as we have a map of reality – the way we think reality is, however since everyone else has their own map they may find that their reality is slightly different from yours. Conflict occurs when one person uses their interpretation of the territory and says it is the correct view and the only view.

If a business person, a teacher and a doctor visit a medical lecture each will see something different. The business person may see how inefficiently run their training session is. The teacher may not see any inefficiencies but may see that the methods used in the lecture to convey information is wrong. The doctor may be appalled by the content.

Which view of the above is correct? Each one is correct for each individual.

It is very important to be open to see things from another perspective. When you can see that your way may not always be the correct way for everyone you begin to be a better manager/sales person/leader.

Application to Business

As a business person you must be open to all views of the business world. When you can’t see what someone else sees in a situation this can easily be because you both have a different map. This does not mean the other person it wrong, simply they see things differently to you.

The more flexible you are in your views, the more you will see why people are coming up with objections. Remember one of the cornerstones of NLP is flexibility of behaviour.

You can not not communicate!

One aspect of NLP is communication. One way people will know what you are saying and how they judge you will be on the words you use. Some of the most influential people in the word are where they are due to their ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

However it is important to remember that we can also communicate to others through body language. Those subtle changes in posture, that sideways look, a change in skin tone, getting hot under the collar. Many people not even see these things but now that you are being to develop sensory acuity you will begin to notice and pick up these body language cues.

It is important to understand that even if you say nothing others may pick this up as a sign or signal. Always ensure when you communicate you communicate as efficiently an clearly as possible.

Application to Business

By looking out for and becoming aware of changes in body language you will be able to “read” situations better. When you are at a meeting and ask if anyone has any ideas or objections look out for small movements which may indicate that someone does want to say something but may be afraid to speak up.

Once you refine your skill in detecting body language you will be able to build up rapport faster as people will feel that you “know them” and be amazed at how you seem to know when they wish to comment or discuss a comment.

The meaning of your communication is the response you receive

Language is a powerful tool and you need to ensure that you use it carefully. When you communicate you need to ensure that you are clear in what you are saying not only verbally but also physically. You may make a comment to a co-worker and they may take it in a different manner than it was meant. For example a co-worker does a great job resolving a problem for you. You say to them that was well done, however the manner you say it may be in an informal manner. The other person may interpret what you have said as being flippant and perhaps not sincere. Since each person has their own map they also interpret what is said differently. This can result in different people reading into situations correctly. Therefore you must always be clear on what you mean and how you say it.

It is also wise not to read into what is said to you. Take it at face value. What can happen is someone says something to you and you place your map onto it and begin to read into it and take a wrong meaning from it. This often happens in relationships. One comment is misinterpreted and this causes a argument, things are said that are not meant or are taken the wrong way

Application to Business

Remember that everyone has a different map of the world that we have. This is also true when it comes to communication. Picture the following situation. Your boss says “Tom can you come into my office I need to discuss something with you” Your boss simply wants to discuss an idea with you, however, you may read into the situation and think that you are in trouble as perhaps the report you submitted was not up to the usual standard. You then begin to formulate what you are going to say to your boss to defend yourself. What does she know about what you do? Heck you’ve been longer here than she has. By the time you go into the meeting you are on the defensive when in fact there is no need to be! Have you been in one of those situations.

People make the best choice available

NLP believes that people make the best choices available to them in any particular situation. Although the choice they may not have been the best choice in your opinion. The person who made the choice believes it was the right one.

NLP seeks to help people find more choices and therefore become more flexible in their behaviour, In later modules you will learn about how you operate and “work” as a person. Once you know how you operate you will become more flexible and have more choices at your disposable.

Application to Business

People within your team may not make the best choices, but at the time they made it they believed it was correct. For example a person may make a costly mistake, however they believed it was better to take a risk than to discuss the matter with a superior. The person believed that the only choice they had was to take the risk. Remember the person in question was also working from their “map” and personal history. Perhaps they don’t work well under pressure and this is their typical response. Given NLP training they could open up and see that they can change how they react or act under pressure.

People are not broken

Unlike therapy NLP believes that everyone works perfectly. Everyone is perfect they way they are however sometimes their behaviour can be improved or the way do things can be refined.

Application to Business

If someone within your team is not working the way they should perhaps it is the system that is broken for that person. The majority of the team may be able to work in a set way as directed by the company. The “broken” person may like to do things slightly differently. However if they can get the intended result then it may be better to let the individual work the way that works for them.

This can often be an issue in companies who are more concerned with the process of how things are done rather than seeing that the product and allowing each team member to achieve their target the best way that suits them.

Practice makes perfect

The more you practice a technique the better a person becomes at it. The more times you make decisions the better you become at decision making. The more times you try to look for more choices and more choices you will find.

Application to Business

The entrepreneur complains they are not good at cold calling. Therefore they try not to cold call. When they do cold call they don’t do it very well, therefore they stop cold calling, therefore they don’t get new customers.

A better choice is to keep cold calling but be aware and reflect on what is working and what is not. Then make another call and another and another. You will then become better at cold calling. If you don’t practice you will never improve

There is always choice

People often say they had not choice but to act they way they did. If we become more aware of what we are doing and what consequences it may have we will begin to realize that there is always choice. The choice is either to do something or not to do it. That in itself is a choice. The more choices you have the more freedom you gain.

Application to Business

Always look for another choice in every situation. Don’t accept only once choice as this reduces your freedom in a situation. For example in a business deal if you are not happy with the negotiations don’t close the deal because there is no other choice – look for another choice or walk away. You don’t want to make a choice that you will later regret.

Begin to look for more choices now.

There is no such thing as failure only feedback

Too many people see that when something goes wrong they have failed. They then decide I won’t do that again so I don’t fail. This is one way of looking at situations. The other way to look at it is to eliminate the word failure and replace it with the word feedback. Look at every situation and see what you can learn from it and then decide not to make the same mistake again. Once you see failure as feedback you will be stronger and make better decisions. Never give up, always learn from what might not have worked.

Application to Business

Thomas Edison is often quoted with regard to this presupposition. He had hundreds of failures before he invented the light bulb. Every time another light bulb did not work, he learnt from his mistake and got valuable feedback. From this he refined the invention. Luckily for us he did not give up.

He knew he would eventually run out of failures!

If one person can do something you can learn how to do it too

NLP believes that people use processes that get them to where they want to be. By following the processes somebody else has used you can also learn to do what they do. Very often we perceive we can not do something and we do not try to do it.

How many stories have you heard of people overcoming all odds to achieve something they wanted. In a later module you will learn about modelling. This is looking at how a person thinks and acts and then emulating them. This was done very successfully by the founders of NLP Richard Bandler and John Grinder more of which you will learn.

Application to Business

If a sales person wants to learn how to be like the top sales person in the company they would be well advised to study how they structure their sales pitch, how they talk to the customer how they dress and how they act.

If you want to be the best in an industry you need to model the person who is at the top.

Richard Butler is a trained Practioner of NLP and Life and Business Coach. He is previewing his new NLP e-course at http://www.richardbutlerthesuccesscoach.com/nlp.htm. He is available for web coaching.

About Corey

I am a lifelong student of NLP.
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