NLP was originally created as a method to isolate and replicate what successful psychologist and psychiatrist did to help their patients.   The goal was to be able to use only what worked and drop the ‘junk’ in order to get the fastest most reliable results possible.  Well known professionals were studied and modeled including Milton H. Erickson who gave hypnosis credibility in the medical world, Virginia Satir the famous family therapist, and Fritz Perls the pioneer of Gestalt Therapy.

For the pure techniques that resulted from modeling these, and other, experts arose a further portfolio of tools that can be applied in fields outside of psychology and that you can use in your own profession either as an entrepreneur, leader, manager or employee.  I have created a map of NLP techniques that you will find useful in business.  I will go into more details of each of these techniques in up coming blog posts:

Tool or Skill Description Sample Business Uses
1 Modeling Modeling is the foundation of NLP.  It’s the process we use to isolate excellent behavior and replicate it in order to teach to others.  In NLP we strongly believe that if you replicate someone’s successful behavior effectively, you can generate the same great results they do. We all have people we look up to in our work lives.  People who we consider, for example, as great presenters, salesmen, craftsmen, or leaders.  Using modeling techniques we can now learn how to reproduce the same behavior and expect to have very similar results.
2 Sensory Acuity Learning to notice subtle changes in people you are speaking to so you know if what you are communicating is having the impact you desire on them.  Some things to observe include breathing, posture, physical changes in the face, etc. I can’t think of a single conversation where being able to see the impact of what you are saying without being told, isn’t a good thing.  Just imagine knowing when you have gotten your point across and it’s time to stop talking or when you need to rephrase something to make a stronger case.
3 Rapport This is the purposeful practice of helping someone to feel comfortable with you and less resistant to what you are telling them. Being able to create rapport with someone(s) purposefully and quickly is one of the greatest skills any professional can have in any field.  Good rapport builders put themselves into a position of friendly openness with people where an open exchange of information is possible.
4 Presuppositions These are the beliefs that effective NLP practitioners need to have in order to maximize your success of using NLP.  You can find all 15 here in a previous blog post of mine. These are fundamental for any NLP practitioner, in and out of the professional world.
5 Language Patterns Learning how to purposefully use language and questions to have the greatest impact on the people you speak with and to decode the real meaning of words they use. Business is about people.  Being able to maximize your usage of language will support your objectives in every conversation you have, in and out of business.
6 Chunking The art of using questioning to move between more detail and ‘big picture’ concepts so you can understand where ideas, beliefs and goals come from and what the real purpose behind them is. Chunking is a great tool for brainstorming, especially when the process gets stuck.  Its also wonderful for redefining concepts for people at different levels of the business.  For example, the higher someone is in an organization, the more they should want ‘big picture’ concepts and the less they should be concerned with the details.
7 The Communication Model A model of understanding how people process, filter, and react to sensory information. This map is exceptionally useful to understand how clients will process the information you give to them.  From an advertisers perspective, it clarifies how your marketing message is received and responded to.  It’s also a great tool for understanding how we can control our state when we need to: very useful for changing our mood before a presentation or meeting, for example.
8 Strategies The ‘programs’ that run in people’s neurology that differentiate how they behave and react in any given circumstance. Whether you are a professional salesman selling your products or services or a member of a company selling your ideas in a conversation; understanding how to ‘format’ what you say so it has the greatest impact is where understanding strategies can help.
9 Meta-programs These are a set of personality traits that affect how a person will react when they run a strategy.  If two people have the same Strategy, they may not have the same reaction because they have different internal Meta-programs. Unlike Strategies, Meta-programs are relatively simple to identify through conversations, and even through email.  Therefore, they can be used as a quick and dirty way to understand someone you have just met.  If you have the time to combine them with a proper Strategy elicitation, then you have a very powerful advantage in sales or other persuasion based situations.
10 Values As unique individuals, we all have different sets of values that guide our beliefs and behaviors. Understanding your client’s or co-worker’s values makes it easier to customize your products and services for them and bring them true value.  Eliciting values is also a great tool for building cohesive and effective teams.

If you are interested in a good book about NLP as a business tool, the pioneer in this field is Sue Knight. Her book ‘[amazon_link id=”1857885295″ target=”_blank” ]NLP at Work: The Essence of Excellence, 3rd Edition (People Skills for Professionals)[/amazon_link]‘ is used by most credible trainers of NLP for business around the world. I highly recommend Sue’s book as your starting point for this field.

By all means, these is not a complete list.  If you have any techniques you think should be added above, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

(Photo by Andrew Wales)