The quiet impact of NLP

When I was growing up, my main model for leadership and leaders (and perhaps success) was one of thick-skinned extroverts with a command-and-control personality...

The quiet impact of NLP

When I was growing up, my main model for leadership and leaders (and perhaps success) was one of thick-skinned extroverts with a command-and-control personality who talked more than they listened and had an answer for everything. This was at odds with myself, a chatty but more sensitive introvert at heart who liked reading, thinking, playing with computers (yes - ok, a bit of a nerd!) and enjoyed collaboration over giving the orders.

NLP, for me, is about what you communicate or project externally (with your language and the physical actions you choose). Looking back I have always had a sense of this. As a teenager I remember sitting on the floor of a junior school classroom and noticing how you build rapport by being on the same level as younger kids. It just seemed obvious to do this, but this awareness depends on your focus. NLP can help you learn these skills.

As a quiet person I sometimes wondered how was I ever going to have impact or influence? How could I help others solve problems without telling others what to do? (not really my style). How could I feel more comfortable in this competitive world filled with noisy Alpha’s? Hmmmmm. It took a while, but learning NLP eventually provided some answers. Here’s the story of how it came about.

The answer may have eluded me for my first 24 years, but good things come to those who wait. In 1996 when on some IBM leadership training at Warbrook House I met some great personal development trainers. We learnt the GROW coaching model and some physical rapport techniques of matching body language and heard about this teaching ‘concept’ called NLP. It all sounded a bit mystical at the time and I couldn’t find a training course, so the idea was parked, but a seed of interest was sown and it grew slowly, like seeds tend to do.

Later, at Business Link South-East, I was lucky enough to meet some coaches and facilitators and joined MentorNet to work with local businesses. I remember coaching an Entrepreneur who was moving out of home to his first office. As an outsider it was easy to ask a few questions, listen and help him shape his plans. Brilliant! - I was making a difference as a professional and having influence. But, I realised I needed more skills and training to do this really well - what was that NLP thing again?

During my next role (at a process orientated business) I was working close to where I learned my first round of coaching skills. A combination of being reminded of that course and needing something less ‘processey’ (more ‘peopley’) fired me up to find a local NLP trainer and see what else I could learn.

Using my nerd skills (‘digital aptitude’- would be kinder self-talk, internal language is important in NLP) I searched the web and found an experienced trainer and worked my way through the NLP Diploma and Practitioner courses. I was also lucky enough to be asked to return to the course as an assistant coach to do get some teaching which was a great way to cement my learning and practice what I had learned.

The trainer and I worked well together - If you don’t feel you have good chemistry (often called rapport) with your NLP coach or trainer then look further afield. Rapport is a key skill and you need that trust for personal development work.

The courses help you learn some great skills and also address your own identity, so there was an emotional and mental journey to be travelled. That’s another reason why you need a teacher you feel you can trust. I made some great friends, we shared some deep things and all came out wiser and stronger. You may find emotional and mental awareness is an challenging and emotional skill to learn. But balance this against making a sound investment in your own long-term personal resilience.

Since completing NLP Master Practitioner, my own coaching activities have been in technology and marketing with some technical folks I’ve been privileged to work with PhD students, Innovators, developers, analysts and user experience designers. All with different challenges involving change in their projects and careers. Career change keeps coming up, I think that’s become a specialism for me from personal experience of several TUPE transitions in my own employment history.

Working in technology and with technical professionals, the subject of depression has also become a trending topic. People who spend a lot of time inside their own heads at work (knowledge workers, programmers, analyst, etc) can be vulnerable to this. With the rise in mental health challenges in the workplace, NLP and coaching is an important skill-set for the management of employees in technical delivery roles. It’s become a great complementary skill for supervising technology work.

To finish my story, I would like to say a thank-you to those who helped me with my NLP and coaching learning journey. They guided and inspired me through three qualifications and gave me some early teaching/training experience. They have made a real difference to me and to others I’ve coached.

So if you want to want know what NLP and all of this has taught me, I would say that it’s this.

You don’t have to be someone else to be successful. Just be yourself. Learn about NLP and coaching to be really good at being you, so you can find success in the industry or role that makes the most of your talents.