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January 7, 2010

NLP: The Power of Psychology in Influencing and Communicating

Our attitude affects our performance – we all know that. The energy you get from feeling positive about yourself feeds through into your performance. This is a crucial feature of sports coaching and it is just as important in business. And that is the aim of NLP. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a powerful psychological approach that models excellent behaviours at the conscious and unconscious levels in order to help us, and those we interact with, achieve success in our goals and move forward in our work and personal lives. Focussing on key behavioural skills including influencing and communicating, NLP can be used very effectively in HR because it allows us to develop the crucial behaviours, communication techniques (verbal and non-verbal), and mindsets that deliver success.


The wonderful concept behind NLP is that you are in charge of your mind and, therefore, your results. NLP uses the language of the mind to consistently achieve our excellent outcomes.


NLP covers a huge array of tools and techniques that help deliver excellence, and we can only scratch the surface in this brief overview, but we can make a start on the psychology of success, and a good place to begin is the beliefs of excellence.


The beliefs of excellence stand at the heart of NLP. Some of the most powerful are as follows:

  • Perception is projection. We see only what we want to see, and we use our own beliefs, attitudes and view of the world to interpret the actions and behaviours of others. Everyone has a different “model” of the world, and we must respect, and pay attention to these differences.
  • The meaning of communication is the response you get. The onus is on you to get your message across. If you get an unsatisfactory or unexpected response then you need to communicate differently !.
  • Everyone does the best they can with the resources they have available. Every behaviour is motivated by some positive intent for the individual (even where there may be negative impacts on others).
  • There are no unresourceful people only unresourceful states. Since people do the best they can with the resources available, any negative or problematic behaviour must be motivated by some positive intent for the individual. Your job is to help them access more choices, more skills and more internal resources to allow more appropriate behaviours and outcomes, and, thus, improve their performance and their potential.
  • There is no failure only learning. We all encounter problems and set backs. Take the positive learning from these and move on !


These elegant statements of principle are the beliefs that bring excellent results if you hold and practice them every day. Armed with these beliefs we can start to think and talk excellently.


Our brains are bombarded with millions of pieces of information every second through all our senses. We take in everything that goes on around us, but we cannot consciously cope with all that information at once, so our mind acts as a filter, giving our conscious mind what it thinks we need at any particular time.  These subconscious filters are built up over our lifetime based on our previous experiences, our attitudes and our beliefs. In effect, they distort, delete and generalise the information that comes into our brain to give us our particular take on the world as we see it – our model of the world. Everybody has different life experiences, so everyone’s model of the world is different. NLP helps us to recognise how our mind is filtering information and, therefore, helps us analyse how other people’s models of the world might be different. NLP increases our sensory awareness of the language other people use, their physiology, and their psychology, to increase our understanding of others and their behaviour (as well as of ourselves). 


For example, the words we use, and the way we say them, have a tremendous impact on our psychology. Because of previous associations, some words may contain significant emotional baggage, but even everyday words, overtime, can influence the way we think and feel. With NLP we can start to use language structures to influence ourselves and others positively.


In many ways the words we use are a self fulfilling prophecy. If we tell ourselves that something is “true” then we begin to make it true through our attitude, manner and behaviour. For example, if you believe communication with a colleague is poor, you will probably act in a certain way when you meet with them. You may then come across as insincere or untrustworthy. The other person will realise you dislike them, and the effect will be to make communication between you poor.


If we use negative language about others or about change, we are hardly likely to marshal our internal resources to achieve a positive outcome. Instead we become labelled a “cynic” and get only negative feedback in response – further fuelling our negativity. But the truth is that our subconscious loves positive language !. If you constantly and frequently use positive words you will, over time, build a more positive attitude and feelings, and make others more positive about you and your chances of success.


If we say “this project is really difficult and there will be many problems”, we are preparing our mind to fail. Indeed, we are already looking for excuses. If, instead, we say “this project is not easy, and we may not totally succeed”, the positives stay in our mind and we begin to plan to counter the difficulties. We are subconsciously saying that we will do everything possible to succeed. The future becomes altogether brighter and our mood lifts to raise us to the challenge.


Indeed, we can only achieve what we believe we can achieve, so lift up your sights to new horizons, and start striving towards them. Visualise yourself performing at new levels and succeeding. After all the alternative is to keep doing what you’ve always been doing – and get exactly the same results !.


Contact us for information on our upcoming NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner training programmes.