What is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and How It Improves Your Communication Skills
We’ve all been here some time in our lives. We start a conversation with someone and it quickly escalates into a hot argument. Neither one seems to “get” the other person and worse, keeps triggering each other off, even though both started with good intentions. It feels like a duck and chicken talking.
If this kind of scenarios keep happening to you, then you might have a communication problem. Communication skills are not to be taken lightly. In fact, many successful people attribute communication skills as the main factor that determines how successful we become in business and in life.
So how does NLP help you become a better communicator? Here’s our breakdown of NLP in layman terms.
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
NLP is a practice that begins with the understanding of how people think and behave, and of self-awareness. People see the world based on their own feelings and perceptions. Which means everybody sees their own filtered version of the world based on their beliefs, experiences, values, biases and other factors. Even if it may not be a fact or what the real world is.
The phrase itself can be defined by breaking down the words neuro, linguistic and programming.
Neuro: This refers to the brain and the other neurological systems in the body. It’s about how we process information and experience the world.
Linguistic: This means that our language and non-verbal communication reveal our mind or body states. Language can be used as a tool to access the inner workings of the mind or what we truly think inside, even on a subconscious level.
Programming: Is the capacity to change our mind and body states. It’s about using tools to replace negative behaviours with something that’s more in line with who you are.
People are mostly living according to their programming, which consists of habits, thought patterns, feelings, reactions, beliefs, biases and traditions.
Someone who is trained in NLP knows how these programs work in your mind, and is able to access them or “get to the bottom of things” when they have a conversation with you. This enables you to experience a self-realization and change behaviours that don’t serve you in your life, through programming.
How does NLP work?
A lot of times, we place focus in the words used during communication. What goes on in our mind, is “What does this person mean and how shall I respond?” But research has shown that words make up only 7% of meaning, and that the other 93% of communication is non-verbal.
Here’s an example: When you ask a close friend who’s an introvert to do a performance with you on your wedding day, and they said yes, but their facial expression looks like they have a bad case of diarrhea. It’s clear your friend was too nice to say no. What happened was that his words told you yes, but his non-verbal communication, the other 93%, told you otherwise.
Self-awareness and Our Inner Communication
Other than understanding how people think and behave, NLP also teaches us on our own inner communication. Control of our own thoughts, feelings and inner communication can help us achieve self-mastery and emotional intelligence that can improve our relationships and all aspects of life.
An example of our inner communication is when we go for an interview or meet someone new. Your inner voice may say something like
“What if this person doesn’t like me?”
“What if I say something stupid?”
And we may even start imagining pictures in our head that the person tells you off and asks you to leave. Or has a disappointed expression on their face.
With NLP, we become conscious of this inner dialogue we have with ourselves. Self-mastery means we can bring our awareness to this inner communication and respond to it. By becoming aware of it, we can change our mindset to a positive one, and this is how the Programming aspect of NLP works.
NLP in Persuasion
Another component of NLP is in the use of words (linguistics) to reprogram the brain. This can be done internally, or in persuasion towards another person.
For example, if a person constantly tells himself or to others that “I’ve never been good at computers” then he convinces himself subconsciously that he somehow was born with a trait that is beyond his control, when in reality, this person just did not spend time in learning up this skill. A better way to rephrase it would be “I’m no good with computers because I have no time to learn it.”
The use of NLP in persuasion towards others is to first be able to identify what the other person’s true thoughts or intentions are through the words that he or she uses. And then using the right key words or phrases to guide the other person along to a desired outcome.
Now some people have compared this negatively to manipulation. But we can liken this to the medical field. Medical substances can be used for both good, or for bad but it ultimately boils down to the intentions of the user or prescriber. Similarly, NLP has been used in coaching and even therapy to change the way people think about things and help them improve their lives.
A Short History of NLP
NLP was founded by Richard Bandler and John grinder, an information scientist and a professor in linguistics, in the 1970s in California. Bandler and Grinder were interested in why some therapists were more effective than others, and wanted to define the techniques and skills used by them
Through research and studying the transcripts of successful therapists, they spotted a specific set of patterns, and as a result NLP was born.
What People Take Up NLP Training For
- Improve your communication skills
- Understand others easily and be understood
- Be an effective communicator who inspires others
- Enhance your skill in reading people’s non-verbal cues
- Be a master in controlling your thinking and emotions
- Improve your personal and business relationships
- Overcome anxiety, phobias and panic
- Overcome post-traumatic stress
- Overcome addiction
- Overcome unwanted behaviours or habits in yourself or others
- Help others to improve their lives and become successful
An NLP Coach is a person who is not only proficient in NLP but also in Life Coaching. They are skilled in using NLP tools and techniques to help their client get to the bottom of things, sort our their own thoughts and achieve their goals.
Interested to build your communication skills with NLP? Find out more about our Essential Skills for Communicating and Relating online course by Marzuki Mohamed, a Certified Neuro-Semantics and NLP Trainer, and Meta-Coach by the International Society of Neuro-Semantics.