Five things I learned on an NLP course that changed my life

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It's a divisive subject but nevertheless a popular technique, in coaching and other areas of L&D. Sally Hall attended a course recently. 

Having heard and read much about the effectiveness of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) I signed up to a ‘basics’ course to learn a little more about the principles, and can honestly say it was a life-changing experience. NLP is an approach-based study which focuses on individuals at the top of their fields.

So here are five relatively simple principles which switched on a light and changed the way I think and act. As a result these principles have made a dramatic improvement in my effectiveness in business.

The meaning of your communication is the response you get

As a rule when we communicate with someone, and if they don’t respond as we would like, we tend to blame them. We feel they are overreacting, or not listening, which inevitably leads to a negative exchange of feelings. NLP suggests that, no matter what we think we are communicating, if the listener hears something other than the message we intend, then we have not communicated effectively. This leads to the conclusion that we need to take more responsibility for how we communicate to ensure that our message is being heard clearly. Now when someone responds unexpectedly, think of the best way to rephrase the message to make it clearer. This has crucially improved the effectiveness of business (and personal) communications.

The map is not the territory

Perhaps, this is a fancy way of saying to not assume that what you believe about a situation is always true. We build beliefs, or maps, about situations based on our past experience. A useful and time-saving skill, unless you allow the ‘map’ to limit and blind you to other possibilities. NLP suggests that you should use your map as a rough guide, but assume it may be outdated and to look for new routes that may not have been there when your map was drawn. In addition, know that other people are working from a different map, and their map defines the way they see things. Open your mind to their beliefs and you will understand their perspective. Understand their perspective and you can reach a common ground far more easily, especially when networking. Challenging old and limiting beliefs has been a liberating experience - try it and see.

Act as if there is a solution to every problem

Problems arise and we study them. We look at the size of the problem and we worry about the possible consequences of them. In other words, we focus on them. Then we search for a solution and have to make a decision. No need to worry, we all have to make decisions on a daily basis, but if it is connected to networking and business decisions not everyone feels as comfortable as others. However, decision making can be learned.

The developers of NLP discovered that most people were more focused on the problem, which meant that possible solutions were perceived as less powerful and internally doubted. When you recognise that every problem has a solution, then you know it is there before you start looking. You expect to find it, and as a result you are far more effective at creating the solution.

There is never failure, only feedback

Failure is a debilitating concept. We belittle ourselves and allow perceived failures to diminish us, eating away at our confidence and eroding innovation and the entrepreneurial attitude. We focus on failure and it acts as a full stop. Recognising that a different outcome to the expected one is not a ‘failure’ but an opportunity to explore the process and discover why the outcome was different. As a result, improving future efforts transforms the outcome into a different form of success.

You are in charge of your mind and therefore your life

Obvious? Not at all, and I’ve saved the best till last. From early childhood we learn from other people, and so much of our understanding and beliefs (those maps from earlier) are based on other people's beliefs. As a result, by the time we reach adulthood our minds are like computers cluttered with a host of other people's cherished programs. They may be great for them, but this is our life – our mind, our choice. Time to defrag the computer, delete some of the outdated or irrelevant DOS programmes, and update or install the ones we chose. Liberating or what?

Sally Hall is a practising hypnotherapist / psychotherapist in Bedfordshire. She is highly qualified in psychiatric and therapeutic techniques and has run a practice for several years. On top of her practice, Sally writes about the impact of her field on everyday life

About Sally Hall

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