Excellent use with the tool set of NLP isn't just about being good with language. You will want to have a wide array of effective strategies to help you achieve the outcomes that you want. In the areas of influence, persuasion and change having an effective process that you can use to structure your thinking can make all the difference in the world.
Here's one approach that works really well to help you become a more effective influencer, persuader or change artist, regardless of context or outcome.
1. Get Clear
Get clear on what you want to have occurred as a result of your communication.
If you aren't crystal clear on what you want to occur as a result of you speaking then the audience or client won't be either. In NLP we say the meaning of the communication is the response you get not what you intended.
Without clarity of purpose comes lack of clarify of message. This leaves your listener having to hallucinate what they think you mean. That's fine when you want them to, but not if you want to influence very specifically what and how you want them to represent your ideas.
E.g "This was fun, I hope our paths cross again" is different from "I really enjoyed this. My friends and I are hooking up for a football game that's coming up next weekend. Fancy joining us?"
The first request is ambiguous and requires more 'reading between the lines', the second is clearer and uses elegant use of conversational sub-modalities "coming up" to have the listener represent motion and action.
2. Think Through To Whom You Are Communicating With And How They Process The World
Many people overlook this and present information in the way in which they like to have information presented. We want to use whatever form(s) work best for our outcome and audience.
Within the NLP community I've noticed over the years that many people love procedural step-by-step explicit action steps over vague "ranting stories", even though both types of communication styles have their function. A great communicator uses both depending on the result they are going after.
When you are thinking through to whom you are speaking with and how they process the world you are looking to identify what are the governing frames of reference they have around the topic or idea AND what feelings that evokes, so you can build, extend, modify etc how you present your ideas.
If you fail to identify how a person thinks and feels about a topic then you risk missing your 'target' completely or meeting strong opposition.
Mastery with the Meta Model, logic, presuppositions, seeding of ideas etc. play a key role in skilfully detecting and influencing the governing frames of reference.
3. Keep The Message Simple
Keep your message simple. The brain works well when it gets clear instructions.
Politicians know that when trying to get a point through you need to keep the message as simple and straight forward as possible. They repeat the same message over and over so that the electorate will (hopefully) get their message and what is implied about it, also known as the message of the message.
For example in the UK the Tory government keeps calling back to the "mess left to us by labour" anytime a new bit of bad economic news arises. While the labour leadership try to position the frame of reference they want the electorate to have as "Tories just cut, they don't have a plan for growthÖ and we're a new type of labour for a new era".
Repetition of message, keeping it simple and staying "on message" are all key patterns of excellent change agents, influencers and persuaders.
4. Determine How Far Outside Their 'Map Of The World' Your Proposed Idea/Request Is:
Priming an electorate to accept an idea requires a different level of sophistication and repetition than trying to influence a hiring manager that you are the right person for the job.
Before you ever think about what tools you'll employ, you need to first assess how big a "gap" you are facing and what kind of process you need to drive your listener through.
The further outside their map or model of the world your communication is from the listener's ongoing first hand "reality", the more you'll need to think through and anticipate ways to change it. When you do this by building on ideas already affirmed inside their worldview you'll find the task much easier.
5. Generate Several Different Ways To Achieve Your Outcome, Then Act
Generating ideas about how to achieve your objective becomes the fun part. You'll want to think through what does this person need to think/feel first, second, third etc that connects to my outcome? What ideas or thoughts need to be built up and in what sequence to create the effect that you want?
Until you have enough first hand experience you will need to think it through thoroughly.
There are two broad ways to approach the question of method. You can start with small single objectives and work to greater levels of complexity from there, or you can start with everything included and strip ideas and streamline your communication so it becomes lean and laser focused to it's recipient.
Milton Erickson was known for writing 40 pages of an hypnotic process which he would revise down to a single page.
Most people will not need to be this meticulous. Milton was a change artist dealing with a very specific set of behavioural challenges in his clients. You may be looking to influence your boss to sign off on a 4 day work week or give you that promotion. Cut your cloth to measure. However in the initial stages of becoming skilled with figuring this piece out it helps if you are systematic and extensive in your approach.
As a student of NLP you have many, many tools at your disposal such as anecdotes, short stories, parables, questions, "my friend John", direct instruction, metaphors etc. to create several different instances of the key messages and change in thoughts you are looking to wire up.
Use the TOTE model to organise your thinking and determine which needs to come first, second, third.
Then when you are ready try it out and use the feedback you get from the experience to do it better again next time.
When you consistently employ these five steps in a systematic way, you will start become really good with this and soon be able to influence, persuade or change more and more on the fly.
Making It Practical:
Pick 1 area from the above where you typically don't focus on and apply yourself to become skilled at it over the coming 7 days.
Got a question or comment? Feel free to leave it below.