NLP workplace techniques often misrepresent the true spirit of NLP
Neuro-linguistic Programming has experienced something of a boom since the late 1990s, to the extent that it is no longer the preserve of psychotherapeutic elite, but rather the watchword of thousands of dubious motivational books and corporate sales training courses.
Much good has come of the democratisation of NLP, not least the opening up of its considerable repertoire of self-help techniques to a wider public. However, the preponderance of supposed NLP techniques in work place training manuals risks misdirecting the true purpose of the science, and leading to results other than those intended for responsible use of the methods.
The following are the four most common mistakes people make when applying NLP techniques to the workplace environment:
1. OVER-EMPHASIS ON RAPPORT BUILDING
Building rapport in the workplace and during the sales process is very important. I do not think that any sales person would deny this basic fact. However, many salespeople who take this NLP technique to heart do so at the expense of focus. When using rapport building techniques it should always be borne in mind what sort of relationship you want to develop. For instance, different techniques are required if you wish to be seen as an efficient administrator from if your goal was to be viewed as an authority figure.
2. DIRECTIONLESS QUESTIONS
In the modern workplace, people are encouraged to ask questions, and to build a working consensus through construction. One of the results of this – a direct inheritance from NLP techniques popularised in the mid 1990s – is the current culture of meetings taking place in many offices around the world. The meeting culture falls down as result of the questioning procedure being divorced from process. When encouraging questions in the workplace, it should always be clear to what ends you wish these questions to lead.
3. POOR USE OF METAPHORS
A distinctive feature of NLP is the recognition of the central place of storytelling in modelling human consciousness. On an individual level the use of “hypnotic metaphors,” or parables to secure anchors or change belief systems is profound. Unfortunately, despite the re-assurances of many NLP courses, this process does not transfer well to the workplace. Highly complicated stories have become a commonplace feature of boardroom presentations; and have devolved into a web of meaningless jargon elsewhere in the corporate field. A lack of focus is the main culprit in this debacle, something which violates the very cornerstone of NLP – self-directed, conscious awareness. If a story interferes with the basic details of the task at hand, you can be sure that it will not achieve the goal you have set it, and it may even be counter-productive.
Unfortunately, many corporate NLP handbooks lay emphasis on using language patterns to reinforce the impression of authority. While it is true that the resulting jargon can induce a hypnotic effect on listeners, this is rarely in a positive direction. The stark truth is that hypnotic language patterns and jargon are rarely useful when you need to follow specific processes by means of coherent conversations.