Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was co-developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s and is now a familiar technique used worldwide.

NLP recognises the ways that our thoughts and feelings (neuro), combined with our use of language (linguistic) affect our behaviour (programming). It encourages positive thinking and action and can be used as a powerful tool for change.

Here are 5 Tips for using NLP in business:

1. It’s not a bag of tricks

NLP isn’t magic or a bag of clever tricks, though yes, its impact is amazing. NLP is just a formula for explaining how humans process information and act in order to achieve results – whether good or bad.

You may use NLP a lot in your work, but there’s no need to label it as such – it’s not necessary. There are millions of happy, successful people in the world who have never heard of NLP, and their information and processing of the world is already quite effective.

2. Language affects results

The words we use are so important.

For example, if you tell a room of people to “Try to be here by 8am tomorrow” instead of telling them, “You must be here by 8am tomorrow” the number of people turning up early is likely to reduce.

When you use the word “try”, most people won’t process the language and store it away in their brain with enough of a priority to understand they must be there for 8am.

3. Get specific

Always make sure you understand exactly what people mean when they use words.

For example, if somebody says a team member is ‘unmotivated’, you won’t know exactly what that means unless you know exactly what ‘unmotivated’ means to the person who said it, in that context.

You may apply very different criteria for labelling someone as motivated compared to them. The solution is quite simply to ask! For instance: “What causes you to say they are unmotivated” Or “In what ways do you find them unmotivated?”.

4. Away or towards?

Are people motivated “away from” or “towards”?

Listen carefully to see whether people are talking about getting ‘away from’ something that isn’t working well for them, or are going ‘towards’ the good outcome they are looking for. If you echo their style of language, you will get much better results.

For example: one person may want to book a holiday to ‘get away from’ stress at work; another may want to ‘go to enjoy’ a new experience.

5. Find what’s important

Find out what’s important to other people in a given situation – and then use it.

For example, if you asked two people independently what was the most important thing to them in life. The first one said ‘knowledge’, the second said ‘wealth and making money’.

If you wanted to market a seminar that would appeal to both of them, you know that the first person will respond to phrases such as, ‘you will learn’ and how much more you will know, by attending the seminar; the second will respond to ‘how much more money you could make’ by attending.

You’ll get significantly better results if you appeal directly to what’s most important to other people.

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