Find out how much you know about Milton Erickson in this fun 10-question quiz.
Find out how much you know about Bert Hellinger in this fun 10-question quiz.
When you say “don’t,” you are setting up a situation that is the opposite of what you literally say. For instance, if I tell you, “Don’t think about dragons,” what happens? Right, you immediately think about dragons. It seems that on some level, the mind understands that whatever follows “don’t” is important, but the “don’t” part itself is not emphasized. It’s as if parents who tell their children, “don’t put your milk so close to the edge of the table,” are asking for trouble. Teachers who tell their students “don’t run” are almost commanding them to run.
In NLP, you can use this aspect of “don’t,” to help people focus on new thoughts or behaviors. One of the most powerful uses is at the end of a session when you can offer a hypnotic suggestion such as this: “And, don’t be surprised if in the next few days, you’ll have wonderful revelations born out of our conversation today.”
“But” is a word that also has a special effect. Any part of a sentence before the word “but” is pretty much wiped out by whatever follows. For instance, if I tell someone, “I like what you wrote, but the last paragraph confuses me,” guess what happens? Right again! All the person hears is the critique. The entire complimentary part of the sentence is lost.
Another such word is “why.” When you ask “why” you get ‘story.’ Asking “why” is like an invitation or a challenge to defense – it puts the person who is asked in a space where they have to try to tell you “why,” on a conscious level, and this is often counter-productive. A better question is “How,” or something like, “What let you know to…” or “When…”
1. Take a moment to imagine the interviewer’s perspective. It may be that this person is protecting her team from an ‘intruder’ or that this person is desperately looking for a new friend. You’ll be able to better identify the interviewer’s motives as the interview progresses. By understanding the interviewer’s needs, you may be able to present yourself as suiting those needs.
2. Build rapport through mirroring posture. When you see the interviewer take a certain position, copy that position as much as possible several seconds or a minute later. For instance, if the interviewer crosses his ankles, cross your ankles. Use mirror image, as opposed to using the same side of your body. So, if you’re facing the interviewer, and she puts her right hand on the table, and her left in her lap, then you can put your left hand on the table, and your right in your lap after perhaps seven seconds.
You would think that the person being mirrored would feel mocked. In fact, they almost never consciously notice, unless your gestures are overdone, or done immediately. And if they do notice, they feel complimented. You can try this with friends. Next time you are with friends, mirror them, and see what they do. Interestingly, the unconscious reaction is one of comfort, or rapport. The people being mirrored feels that you are like them in some fundamental way.
Another advantage of mirroring is that it puts you a bit on the interviewer’s map. This means you start to feel like the interviewer just a bit, and can better identify with their situation. Rapport works both ways.
3. You can also mirror gestures. This works best if done at least a few seconds after the interviewer’s gestures. Again, you’d be surprised how much this is not noticed, even with big, grand gestures, yet it can make the interviewer feel more comfortable with you. If there is not room to gesture as big as the interviewer, or if you feel that your gesture would be overdone if as big as the interviewer’s, you can make the same movement, but smaller.
Many times gestures point to specific areas relative to the interviewer’s body. The interviewer may be imagining an event in the past as over her shoulder, or a co-worker to her right or something heard is indicated by gesturing near the interviewer’s ears. When you mirror these gestures, indicating the same general position, it makes the interviewer feel ‘understood’, and in the case of a job interview, that’s a good thing!
You get bonus points if you can match a gesture with backtracking.
4. Backtracking is repeating key words or phrases. A recent popular trend called ‘active listening’ teaches that you can indicate that you understand a speaker by using your own words to state back what you heard. This may have a bit of merit, but backtracking works much better. You’re looking for words that stick out in the conversation a bit. They may be pronounced more loudly, slowly, consonants may be emphasized. A few seconds later, you want to incorporate these words or phrases in your conversation verbatim. For instance, you may notice the interviewer has said the word, “crazy” twice and rather loudly. You may not even know exactly what he means by ‘crazy.’ Still, if you use crazy in a sentence, ideally with the same inflection, the interviewer will unconsciously think you understand him perfectly.
5. If practical, ask for a tour. For the interviewer to have you in the work area, makes him comfortable with your presence, and starts him in a thinking process in which you are already included in the work area.
6. Turn the interview around. Most people in a hiring position have feelings about their work. They may be proud of the team, disappointed in the product, etc. Feel free to interview the interviewer. This gives them a chance to vent, show off, whatever they like, to you, their prospective new employee. You’ll get many points if you can cause them to digress into a long chat about their working life. You’ll become their friend. If you were hiring, who would you rather pick, a stranger, or a friend?
7. If you are asked a technical question to test your grasp of the work required, such as, “What color is ff0000,” and if you don’t know the answer, there is no need for panic. You can simply state, “I don’t know the answer off-hand, but I certainly know how to find out.”
8. Notice words or phrases that indicate the person’s primary mode of sensing the world. If the person says he likes the way something looks or ‘everything appears’ a certain way, then you can sprinkle similar visual ‘predicates’ into your replies. The speaker is likely to use visual, auditory, feeling or neutral predicates.
9. You might want to consider ‘meta-programs.’ Typical meta-programs are “away from / toward,” or “global / detail.” You may notice that the interviewer is always considering the big picture and his eyes glaze over when you talk about details. Or, the interviewer is always ‘moving forward,’ not ‘running away’ from a goal. You can modify your replies to work in the same meta-program, and/or an appropriate one. For instance, if the interviewer is looking to fill a detail-oriented job, such as one involving paperwork, you might want to use detail-based concepts in your conversation, instead of global ones, which would indicate to the interviewer that you are likely to be lost in the big picture and not able to complete the details properly.
10. Speak a bit with everyone around you, if you can, and practice these same techniques with them. They may be consulted by the interviewer after you’ve left, so you want them to be your friends also.
11. Enjoy the process. How often do you get to be interviewed? It may be a long time before you get this chance again, so you might as well have fun!
The following is a list of the ways NLP can be used badly, the shortfalls, and everything else negative about NLP of which your editor is aware. After you read this page, you can consider yourself well-informed and make your own decisions. In my opinion, when NLP is used by well-meaning people, beautiful things can happen which make the world a better place, and that outweighs this stuff here.
* NLP can be used by salespeople who have only one goal – to sell their product to unsuspecting citizens. (On the other hand, when used by scrupulous salespeople, NLP can enhance the communication so the customer gets exactly what is wanted, and both parties win.)
* NLP is not a sufficient toolkit for people who have serious mental illness. Too often, NLP practitioners start to think of themselves as psychologists or even psychiatrists, and take on everything – with varying results.
* Regression may be dangerous, especially if attempted by an inexperienced programmer. Imagine getting a subject who has no conscious memory of incest at an early age. The programmer helps the subject remember that, but cannot guide the subject gracefully through the adjustment necessary to accommodate the new-found memory. I have never heard of this happening, but imagine it could be a possibility. Along the same lines, there is a concept called “faux memories,” in which the subject ‘remembers’ things that never actually happened, which can potentially damage family relations.
* NLP does not require a license or even certification. In America and many other countries, anyone can legally call themselves an NLP practitioner, even if all they did was read “NLP for Dummies.” Of course, I don’t think I’d actually want licensing. NLP is too wide a range of techniques, and too subject to individual interpretation to standardize. It also infringes on a basic freedom, imposing testing and paperwork. You may or may not agree with me, but I think you can see the potential for problems with total lack of regulation. If you haven’t seen the movie Mumford, check it out – I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s about a mental health practitioner of some sort… well, I won’t tell you the story.
* A programmer who doesn’t really have the spirit of NLP could make things worse instead of better. Some people might forget to honor the present state, the subject, the subject’s parents, and so on, resulting in all sorts of small damage to relationships.
* There is a minor stigma on NLP. Occasionally you’ll run into people who don’t want to have anything to do with NLP, having memories or having heard stories of an NLP session that went badly, or a practitioner with evil intentions.
* The “programming” part of the term Neuro-linguistic programming sounds like a dangerous cult thing to some people.
* Not all sessions are super-successful. Sometimes subjects may feel they didn’t get their money’s worth, or the programmer may feel ineffective.
* NLP is often critiqued for not being original. Although there have been many original additions, NLP started out as a compilation of what works from the various field of psychology and personal development. Isn’t it interesting that that’s a critique?
(I’m particularly proud of this one because it all happened in about two minutes.)
Jeff: What would you like?
Client: I still get along well with my ex. Well, no I don’t. Not really. Actually, that’s the problem. Every time we’re together, there’s a heaviness in the atmosphere, and a rising sort of frustration always develops.
Jeff: Does this happen with anyone else, or just your ex?
Client: Well, it used to happen with my mom.
Jeff: Used to?
Client: Not any more. We get along great now.
Jeff: So, who changed?
Client [after long pause]: Oh. Oh. Oh! Right! [pause] Thanks!
What about physical pain? Can NLP help with that? Yes! You don’t even have to know NLP. The techniques are explained right here.
Here’s a two-part system for dealing with physical pain that works most of the time. This is written as if you want to use it on yourself, but it works great when you use it on others, too. And, like all of NLP, you don’t have to do it exactly right. Just get it approximately right, and do it with the right spirit. It will still work fine.
Part 1: It helps to understand that pain is not bad. It is a message system. It’s your body’s way of telling your conscious mind, “hey, we’ve got to take care of something,” that your conscious mind might otherwise disregard.
Using the parts of yourself that know how to do it, let your body tell you all about the pain. Really listen to the message. You may be surprised by what your body wants you to know. In some cases, such as a sprained ankle, the message may be simple, “You’ve got to keep your weight off that ankle so it can heal.”
A message like that can’t be argued with. And, you wouldn’t want that pain to go away, because you probably would walk on it, which would indeed interfere with the healing.
The message may be, “seek medical help.” OK, that’s the way to take care of this pain. If you get that message, skip the rest of this chapter for now and get that medical help, you can come back to this later.
Once you have listened to your pain message, you can work out a solution that your body can accept. For instance, “How about if the pain can be gone as long as I don’t walk on it?”
Be ready for really interesting messages. And, you may have to be inventive to come up with an acceptable deal.
Part 2: Did you know you can change pain? If the pain is sharp, like a knife, try making it duller. Or if it is dull, sharpen it a bit. So, if you can change that, what else can you change? Go ahead and experiment. How about the size of the painful area? The depth? Does it have a frequency? A sweetness? If you’ve never tried adjusting the submodalities of pain, you might be quite surprised how easy it is, once you get the knack of it.
If you are working with someone else, and they aren’t able to change the submodalities of their pain, you might take a break for a minute, and let them learn that they can learn new things of this sort. Try this: Have them learn to inhale deeply, by asking them to exhale forcefully and fully. To their delight, the deep inhalation then comes automatically. Then go back to adjusting the pain.
Oh, and an aside: Referring to it as “their pain,” gives them ownership of it. I don’t think they really want to own ‘their’ pain.
Now, the most interesting submodality of pain is location. Can you move one inch higher? To the left? So, if you can move it an inch, how about further? How about putting it in another part of your body? How about somewhere outside your body? Isn’t that a nice solution? When it’s outside your body, you can still have the safety of the awareness that it exists, but it doesn’t have to bother you any more.