By using some of the core tools of neuro-linguistic programming, you can transform your impact and your ability to communicate, says Clive Lewis.
If you were asked to improve your communication, how would you go about it? Would you try to develop your PowerPoint presentation skills? Pay more attention to the way you write emails? Be clearer in what you tell people in your team to do?
You may end up doing all of these things but the truth is that when it comes to communicating with other people, it's not what you say, it's the response you get that is all important.
So how do you elicit this response? The answer is by using the core skills of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Master these and you will massively improve your chances to impact on clients and colleagues.
Building a rapport
The first of these core NLP skills is about building relationships and that means building rapport fast. The skills involved here aren't difficult to grasp but they are often overlooked by those who are too intent on their own message.
If you want to build rapport, what is involved? A priority here is to understand the context of the person you are speaking to or, in other words, take time to understand their reality. Then you need to match the way you talk, your body language and even your energy level to theirs. This will all increase the likelihood that the message you are sending is one that they are able and willing to receive.
So in your next meeting or 1:1 your challenge is to consciously spend some time on getting to know who you are talking to before starting on your agenda. Take time to find out how they see the world, what's important to them and notice how this boosts your communication.
Tell me what you really, really want?
The second NLP skill to develop is to clarify the outcome you want. This may sound obvious but external factors can easily distract you. So when you are communicating to people make sure you not only know what it is you want but ask yourself what that outcome will do for you.
Typically, when you are communicating to people you are asking them for some sort of change and if you want to be persuasive you will need to believe in what you are asking. If you can dovetail what you want with what your audience wants too then you are likely to get much more engagement in your proposal.
It's not just words that speak
If you want to be a master communicator then NLP also has some powerful perspectives on the use of language. In essence people gather information using their senses (seeing, hearing, feeling) and the language they use reflects which of these senses they rely on most. So, for example, when you are communicating some people will want to see your point of view, others will want to hear your argument or get a clear feel for what you are talking about.
For professional communicators this has big implications. If, for example, you are trying to sell an idea to someone who responds to a new insight or who wants another way of looking at the issue then what would you do? The answer might be to include more graphical content in your proposal or paint a picture of the outcome that you envisage.
But if your client is auditory you may want to talk through your ideas with them and ensure they are on the same wavelength. The skill is to become aware of what language preferences you, and they, are using and expand your vocabulary to make it easer for them to understand you.
It's the way that you say it
Finally, NLP has a powerful message to communicators about the need to be congruent. This means that your words, the way you say them and your belief in what you are saying must all be aligned.
How many times do we hear messages from directors, managers and sales staff which don't ring true? In such situations we are reading the person. Do they believe what they are saying or are they saying what they've been told to say? Are they walking their talk?
This is important. You are the message and the way you are being is what people will take away with them. If your audience picks up any unease, anxiety or false enthusiasm then that will override any message you are trying to get across.
The above skills are the foundations of NLP communication and on their own they can help you become a much more powerful communicator. The challenge here is to focus more on the other person and less on yourself – that's the way to make a bigger impact and the only sure-fire way to get your message across.
Clive Lewis is MD of Illumine Training. For more information on effective communication with NLP, contact Clive on 01753 866633 or visit www.illumine.co.uk