Neuro Linguistic Programming (Part 1 of 2)

Managing and building human capital has taken center stage for many organizations. There are numerous tools to help enhance human resources, such as human resource scorecards, 360-degree evaluations, and matrix structures for cross-functional development. However, it would be nice to have one discipline to pull together the drivers behind human behavior and performance, defining the attributes and models that we need to replicate for building human capital. Well such a discipline has emerged – it's called Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP.

“NLP is the art and science of personal excellence. Art because everyone brings their unique personality and style to what they do, and this can never be captured in words or techniques. Science because there is a method and process for discovering the patterns used by outstanding individuals in any field to achieve outstanding results. This process is called modeling, and the patterns, skills, and techniques so discovered are being used increasingly in counseling, education and business for more effective communication, personal development and accelerated learning.”
- Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming by Joseph O'Connor and John Seymour

NLP is a body of knowledge about how people think, sense, and communicate within their environments. By understanding these relationships, we gain insights into how to model the right kinds of behavior for outstanding performance and results. We can break NLP down as follows:

Neuro – Learning how we think and how it influences the results in our life. What people see and hear determines what they think. These reactions evolve into habits and habits will ultimately determine the destiny of the individual.

Linguistic – The languages we use for communicating. Understanding how we communicate has profound implications on results. And communication is more than what we say. Knowing how to communicate with yourself and others allows you to “code” or model conscious and unconscious patterns that produce favorable outcomes.

Programming – Everyone runs their life by programs or strategies. When people understand these programs, they begin to have more choices. And with more choices comes increased success.

If we pull together these three components, then NLP is a combination of thinking, behavior, and communicating for highly effective business relationships, team leadership, managing people, and other critical drivers of performance. NLP is the study of these relationships, applying a methodology of what needs to happen if you want outstanding results.

“There is nothing else in the world of human development and learning as powerful as NLP. It is our ability to manage our thinking, our conflicts, and our experience that will ultimately make the difference between those of us who will lead the way into an increasingly new, exciting, creative, and cooperative future, and those who will rapidly fall by the wayside as they attempt to follow. This is what we can learn from NLP.”

NLP at Work: The Difference that Makes the Difference in Business by Sue Knight

In today's chaotic world of change and mixing of global cultures, NLP has become extremely important. NLP attempts to identify what works, not what should work. This is why NLP can be instrumental for business. Businesses are created and managed based on what management believes will happen. In fact, most people fail to comprehend and understand what works within themselves and thus, they are in a poor position to understand what works for business. NLP defines what works for you so that you can pursue the right options for success.

NLP maps out thinking patterns, identifying the preferred patterns. By learning how you think, you begin to change and manage better. NLP is about understanding performance gaps within the individual, what currently exists versus what can exist. NLP is about the quality of communication. Great leaders have a mastery of communication. NLP breaks down communication into three classes – visual, auditory, and feeling. NLP is also about programming – using models to reproduce someone else's situation and results, thereby gaining a much better understanding into how the individual thinks and behaves. The purpose of the NLP model is to produce the right kind of human resource capital for running the organization.

For example, models are often developed for several critical positions, such as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Vice President of Marketing. Many organizations have introduced NLP models into the workplace through mentoring programs. Mentors represent the NLP model that the organization wants for different positions. When a person aspires to the model, they become a mentor. Mentors serve as examples of what others in the organization need to aspire to. NLP also uses other type of models, such as Meta Models to flush out what really is being communicated.

This article has just scratched the surface of NLP. There are all types of test and models that NLP uses to build and enhance human capital. The bottom line for business is that NLP is about forming your own outcomes based on what you know works, not on what you think may or may not work. NLP is the science of understanding how people think and communicate. And how people think and communicate affects what they do. As a result, NLP can be a very powerful set of tools (all encompassed within one single methodology) for driving predictable improvements in people. Part 2 of this article will describe how NLP fits within the business environment.

Change is a learning process and learning is a change process. Ultimately underpinning these processes are changes in the way individuals think and act. - Changing the Essence: The Art of Creating and Leading Fundamental Change in Organizations by Richard Beckhard and Wendy Pritchard

matt evans photo Written by: Matt H. Evans, CPA, CMA, CFM | Email: | Phone: 1-877-807-8756

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