“So, what can NLP do to help me in my career?”, he wasted no time in small talk. Rachel, my NLP teacher put us in touch because he was interested in taking an NLP course and I had some very good results in applying NLP in my company.
“OK, first of all what’s your goal with your career?” I asked. “I don’t know” he replied with a muffled tone. “OK, let’s imagine for a moment that you knew what you wanted. What would that look like?” I asked lowering my voice to resemble his.
“I am a junior manager at the time, and I want to get a promotion and eventually that corner office,” he said in one breath.
“Great,” I responded joyfully “it seems you clearly know what you want” “Do you know someone who has already done, what you want to achieve?” I asked.
“Yes, of course!” he replied with certainty. “Then, the first thing I can tell you about Neuro-Linguistic Programming is that it will offer you a toolkit of different techniques to model the best habits and behaviors that led other people to where you want to go. It’s basically a roadmap to success, and much much more.” I heard him taking his first deep breath on the other side of the line.
Whether you are a seasoned leader, or you are just starting, there many ways to improve your life in the workplace. Here are my 3 favorite NLP techniques I have used in my work that I believe will help you in your career.
Advancing in your career requires dedication, problem-solving skills, and quick thinking, among other things. NLP has some simple and easy techniques to give you the competitive edge in your journey up the corporate ladder. One of them is called “reframing”.
Picture this: Think of something upsetting that happened to you recently. This could be missing your flight connection on the way to an important meeting, sending an email to the wrong recipient, or even missing a career opportunity. Now change the way you look at the situation so that you can find something that you learned from this experience that is useful. Note the lesson learned for future reference, and your newfound understanding of how to move, going forward. When you make a habit of reframing the challenging situations like that, you are going to be a master at figuring everything out.
Now take this principle and apply it when you are managing people. Let me ask you this: how would your team perform if they maintained a positive mindset in the midst of a crisis? You know for a fact that when we focus on the negative, we basically focus on the problem, not the solution. There is this NLP principle that says: There is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Use this technique to reframe any challenge or failure as a learning opportunity for you and your team.
Epicurus, the Stoic philosopher, said that we have two ears and one mouth, and we should use them accordingly. Meaning, that we should listen more and speak less if we want to become better communicators. Which brings us to the NLP method of active listening.
Imagine if you were in your boss’s mind, you could access any thought they are having, and you delivered before they even asked. You know, like Mel Gibson in the movie “What women want”, where he was able to hear all women’s thoughts. Imagine if you were able to negotiate dials where all the parties involved are happy with the outcome, win-win situations. And all because of this simple method.
When you actively listen to the other party, you will pay attention to a variety of things. The tone and tempo of voice (high, low, fast, slow), the words used (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and the body language (open, closed posture). Then, you will discretely match their voice, words and body language. If for example the person you are talking to is crossed legged, you might want to do the same. If they are speaking slowly, try to match their pace. If they are using phrases like “I see what you mean” (visual), don’t reply by saying “I hear you” (auditory). Try to match their own language pattern.
Our brain is structured in a way that sends in minutes, or better yet, in just a few seconds the signals that help the person to decide whether to trust us or not. And we tend to like and trust people who look like us or behave like us. You see what I am trying to explain here? If you are gently matching their posture, words, tempo and tone of voice they are more likely to lower their defenses and be open to listening to you and your ideas. The keyword here is gently. If you are doing it mechanically like a robot, it will end up looking fake and you don’t want that.
With NLP you will learn to actively listen, learn how to ask questions and observe all the verbal and non-verbal cues so that you understand what other people think and truly want. By actively listening you are going to be able to improve your communication skills. And by becoming a better communicator, you’ll be able to close better deals, avoid miscommunication, easily resolve conflicts and guess who will be next in line for promotion? You.
Have you ever been in a situation where your team is like being in a kayak where some people paddle on the right and some people paddle on the left and you end up going in circles when the goal is to move straight? You know what I mean. It’s frustrating, exhausting and confusing. In learning the NLP principle of the well-formed outcome, I have managed to overcome this speedbump in many projects.
It’s basically a set of questions that all the members of the team should be able to answer:
- What is our goal here?
- What’s stopping us from achieving that goal?
- What resources do we need to help us create what we want?
- Who does what?
- How will we succeed, and what’s the first step to begin to achieve this goal?
I have noticed that in using this method, the team not only sees the whole picture, but they are active participants in detecting the challenges and resolving them. This improves communication, encourages creativity and increases productivity within the team. Then your team delivers the projects on time and on budget, the management is happy, the clients are happy and guess who will soon get a promotion? That’s right! You.
Although “managers cannot control people or events, [they] can manage their response to people and to achieve objectives. Applying NLP skills in an organization will give the managers and staff increased efficiency in the workplace by understanding and motivating the people, either individually or in groups.” (Joey & Yazdanifard 2015).
There are many benefits in learning NLP when it comes to advancing your career. The methods described here are only a small taste. Rest assured that there is more! And most importantly, there are other NLP techniques that focus on the personal side, (setting and achieving goals, managing your emotional state, liberating yourself from limiting beliefs, etc) that will not only impact your career, but improve the quality of your life as a result too.