One item that I’m constantly trying to teach to my team is the importance and constant application of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). My simple definition for NLP is “Communicating in a specific way to maximize your chances of getting the desired response.” Ok, so what the heck does that mean? It’s probably easier to illustrate with a few examples than with a detailed explanation…
NLP encompasses 3 Main things:
- What you say. (I.e. word choice)
- How you say it. (I.e tone)
- Your body language and facial expressions while saying it. (I.e. posture, eye-contact, etc.)
The first NLP lesson is talking in a manner that puts the other person first and makes it easy for them to deal with you. A few examples:
“I’ve included a quote…” vs. “The quote you requested” or “Your quote is included…”
If you’re always starting your sentences in emails, proposals, or conversations with I, I, I – then chances are you aren’t being heard as well as you’d like to think.
“We won’t be able to get there until Monday, will that be OK?” vs “Great, it looks like we have an opening for you on Monday. Does that work for you?”
In the first scenario the tone and wording implies that, “we understand you need us today but the best we can do is Monday.” The second implies, “wow, we have an opening right away on Monday just for you, isn’t that great?” If you present the opening on Monday as a negative through your tone and word choice, you’re much more likely to get a negative response than if you present it positively. (Even if not getting there till Monday isn’t top-notch service, you don’t have to act that way if that’s the best you can do right now.)
Here’s another simple example when communicating with people:
“Do you understand?” vs. “Does that make sense?”
“Do you understand” means “Are you smart enough to understand what I just told you?” Whereas “Does that make sense” means “Did I explain that clearly enough that it is simple to understand?” Do you see the difference? In the second question the pressure is on you to explain it clearly instead of on the other person to understand it clearly.
Another one of my favorite questions to ask irate customers, disgruntled employees, or upset girlfriends after proposing some sort of solution:
“Does that sound reasonable?”
Even though (using effective NLP techniques) you’ve just led them to exactly the solution you want, by offering them the chance to accept that it’s reasonable they feel in control of the situation.
One of the best ways to diffuse a difficult situation is to ask a question.
Since we’re just reviewing the basics, let me keep the explanation as simple as possible. In essence, asking a question shifts the thought patterns of the person to whom you’ve posed the question so they aren’t singularly focusing on the object of their dissatisfaction.
By asking a question that requires a bit of thought, you’re shifting the person’s brain pattern from the left to the right hemisphere of the brain where emotions are stored and you will INSTANTLY see a difference in the person’s response (if you ask the right question).
So how do I teach my team about these things.
Well, first off, you introduce the concept and explain the basics above. Then you work with them to apply these concepts in all of your scripts. You also help them plan out their conversations before ever picking up a phone to ensure the best response. It takes months of positive reinforcement for someone to really start applying it, however once they do, it’s amazing how excited they get.
Keep in mind that learning NLP is something that can help someone not only at work, but also in their personal life. If you’re able to help someone indirectly communicate better with his spouse, children, or friends imagine how much more they’ll enjoy working with you?
To your success, Bryan