Fact or fiction?
‘Facts are Facts’ as Dickens’ Mr Gradgrind once said. But do they constitute the truth? If you say ‘it is 11 degrees outside’ that’s a fact. If you say ‘it is cold’, well, that depends doesn’t it? I’m from Newcastle. Trust me, 11 degrees is balmy! When you say ‘it is cold’ you are expressing something that is true for you – but not necessarily a universal truth.
If you think about it – very little of what we believe to be true, is universally true. The stuff that fills our heads – about politics, religion, sporting allegiances, who is a nice person, and who isn’t, how we should solve the migrant crisis, or deliver a successful economy – is all about our own personal ‘truth’. In, other words, our cherished beliefs are just opinions. And these opinions colour our version of reality. For example, whereas David Cameron sees ‘full employment’, Ed Milliband sees ‘Zero Hours Contracts’. As linguist Alfred Korzybski once said, “The map is not the territory”. i.e. our internal ‘map’ can only ever represent an incomplete and imperfect version of reality. Which is a real challenge for any of us who seek to understand, persuade, influence, calm, excite or motivate a team, a donor or a colleague.
Neuro Linguistic Programming is an approach that helps with this because it takes the ‘truth v facts conundrum’ into account. NLP comes with certain pre-suppositions, or core principles. Some of the most interesting are that:”
1) Everyone lives within his or her own unique model of the world. Yours is not mine, and vice versa.
2) The meaning of the communication is the response that it gets. In other words, what I say is not the point – it is what you understand I’ve said that counts. Remember, my words will be ‘filtered’ through your own ‘truth’. While my intention may be clear to me, it is the your interpretation and response that reflects my effectiveness. NLP teaches us the skills and flexibility to ensure that the message we send equals the message others receive.
3) A person is always communicating. They don’t even have to be speaking. Body language is a more powerful clue as to how someone feels and what he or she is thinking than the words they use.
4) Behind every behaviour there is a positive intention. When we understand that other people have some positive intention in what they say and do (however annoying and negative it may seem to us), it can be easier to stop getting angry and start to move forward.
5) Flexibility is key: In interactions between people, it is the person with the most flexibility who will be best able to positively influence the outcome
6) If an approach isn’t working – then try something else. Shouting more loudly is never works!
So, in short, NLP teaches us to treat the opinions of others with respect (even if we disagree); to respond less emotionally when people are difficult; to look for the real meaning behind a person’s words and action and respond appropriately; to weigh what we say very carefully and choose words and language patterns that we think will work for the person in front of us and to be flexible in our approach. And so it is by improving your ability to communicate and build rapport with others in just the right way, that NLP can help you to understand, persuade, influence, calm, excite or motivate a team, a donor or a colleague.