What is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)?

NLP is a communication style that combines neuroscience and linguistics to understand how thoughts and speech influence people’s actions. 

You may have heard it said before that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Apart from choice of words, the tone and volume of your voice together with other aspects like your facial expressions, stance and eye contact have an enormous effect on how your message is received. 

Why does it matter?

Neurologists have found that people perform best when they are pursuing a reward as well as when avoiding a minor threat. This performance sees a sharp drop when people perceive a severe threat. Seeing as words have the ability to communicate both, it stands to reason that how you talk to your employees has a direct impact on their performance.

How to use it in coaching

As the leader of a team, you will inevitably give instructions. NLP calls upon you to question whether your instructions come off as a threat or a challenge.

A simple example of this is when telling your colleague to get to work on time. You could either say, 

“Make sure you get here early” or, “Don’t be late”. 

The first will be perceived as a challenge; a chance for them to do better and prove themselves. While the second one would be perceived as a threat; as if you already expect them to be late. 

Studies show that you will likely be more successful with the first approach. It communicates a sense of mutual respect between you and your team members which is vital for improving individual performance.


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