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Created on 20.12.2019

Good communication requires training: tips from NLP

No, neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP for short, has nothing to do with IT. NLP is a toolbox for improving communication. Christian Bodmer, an NLP coach, illustrates in this article why this method can boost productivity in everyday business.

Are you currently preparing a demanding presentation with which you need to win over a critical audience to an important project? Or have you taken charge of a tricky meeting where conflicts are inevitable, given the sheer variety of opinions that are expressed? In both scenarios, NLP can help you get the situation under control. In the first scenario, NLP can provide you with tools you can use to stand confidently in front of all those people, despite any anxiety you may feel. In the second scenario, NLP can help you figure out how to resolve conflicts, and how to work towards a common objective. NLP is essentially just a toolbox for communication, both with yourself and other people.

What exactly does this entail?

Let’s be more specific and look at the presentation you are about to give. Now you need to get yourself in a good frame of mind. Some people need a lot of energy to do this, others need peace and quiet, and others need composure. To get yourself in the right frame of mind, you use what are known in NLP as resource anchors, in other words a sort of button you can press to activate your inner resources. Even that tricky meeting is about being able to get yourself in the right frame of mind. But that’s not all. Communication with other people also plays a role. How do I win over everyone there and then, formulate a common goal and achieve it? In difficult situations, it’s hardly ever a good idea to turn up at the meeting with a view to just push your agenda through. What you need now is rapport. In other words, you need to build up a relationship that is based on mutual understanding and empathy (see tip 2).

NLP is a goal-oriented method

At the end of the day, NLP is always about boosting productivity in day-to-day business. By creating trust-based relationships and setting common goals that you can work towards really effectively, the processes involved become simpler and smoother. Let’s take target setting as another example: if a manager sets his employee the target of generating 3 % more in sales with his customers over the next six months, it is worth pausing for thought. Does the employee feel uncomfortable about this target because he is worried he won’t be able to achieve it for a given customer? If so, the manager has the opportunity to discuss options with the employee to see how they can still reach the target. NLP is a goal-oriented (not a problem-oriented) method, and is especially warranted in times of agile cultures. After all, the less leadership is about hierarchy, the more important it is to try and find ways to reach objectives together.

Three practical tips from NLP

Sadly, NLP is not something you can just learn from books, you need to practise it. That said, there are simple tips on how anyone can integrate NLP into everyday business:

Tip 1: Whatever the situation is, the first person you should look out for is yourself. Try and get into a frame of mind that will help you tackle the task at hand. And become aware of your goals in each situation.

Tip 2: Build a rapport with others. You can picture it like this: if a group of joggers with different running speeds want to reach their goal together as quickly as possible, it doesn’t help if the faster ones rush off and encourage the others to keep up at their pace. A better approach is to run together for a period. One of the faster joggers in the group can then break away ever so slightly to catch up with the others again. Because, when all is said and done, you want to reach your goal as a group, and not individually. This connection is very important. As a matter of fact, the word “rapport” itself comes from French, where it denotes the idea of a connection/relationship.

Tip 3: For each task, ask yourself what you can do to help reach your common objective. As a general rule, this requires a change of mindset and attitude. It is important to adapt your behaviour to this common objective.

About our expert

Christian Bodmer is the Managing Director of the Institute for The link will open in a new window Business NLP. This business economist (Dr. oec. University of St Gallen) and engineer (Dipl. Ing. ETH Zurich) is trained in communication and coaching, and has many years of experience in research, business consulting and industry. Before the Institute for Business NLP was founded, he worked in Senior Management at a large Swiss company for lifts and escalators. He has been working with NLP for 20 years now. Today he specializes in NLP applications in business, specifically focusing on organizational and team development, leadership and management, sales and sales excellence as well as strategy and innovation. 

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