I began my journey of self-discovery over twenty years ago when I became the client of a professional coach. In only three sessions, he had helped me change the way I perceived myself and made great inroads into really supercharging my performance as a Sales Manager.

I was so intrigued by the fast and effective methods that I began to ask him more questions than he was asking me and pretty soon I was reading and researching this powerful “thing” called NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). Personal ethics prevented my coach from becoming my trainer (no way he was going to sell me a programme) so I had to wait six months before going back to him and asking to join his next Practitioner course. That was the start of many years of fascination for me. To date, I have achieved the honour of being a certified Master Trainer of NLP and have trained participants in courses from Diploma through to Trainer certification in many countries across Europe, Azerbaijan, the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

What does this have to do with the title of my article? Working with people from over thirty countries and a vast mix of cultures has demonstrated just how powerful and beneficial good NLP training can be. I emphasise the word “good” here because I’ve also witnessed an array of good, bad, ugly and downright dangerous on my travels. I’ve also had the joy of working with and observing some amazing people at work and witnessing how the addition of some key attitudes and skills empowered their performance. I’d like to share a few examples with you here.

Building connection

As a professional coach, one of our first tasks is to build a deep level connection with our client; a connection based on mutual respect and trust. Without that, or efforts will be superficial at best.

Any good trainer will work to build a similar connection with the participants in their training. All too often, I hear comments like, “they’re a tough lot; I can’t seem to get through to them,” and there’s always the “me Vs them” attitude.

Speakers can rise or fall on their connection with an audience. I’ve seen some great speakers who build a fast and effective rapport with their audience and I’ve seen some who behave like there’s a wall separating them.

NLP helps you heighten your high-speed observation skills so that you can gather instant feedback from those around you. It helps you understand how to utilise that mirror neuron that we all have in order to stimulate personal connection.

It’s not just noise

One of THE most powerful tools we can have as coaches, speakers and trainers is the potential ability to use and understand language patterns. The words we hear will give us immense clues as to what’s going on in the mind of the listener, whether they be a client, a participant or an audience member. They will also give us the power to influence the thinking and, therefore, the behaviour of the listener.

Time out – those who have attended any of my programmes will know that I constantly emphasise the need for ethical use of these skills. There is a line between ethical influence and selfish manipulation.

Two key models I teach that have specific benefit for your clients, participants and audiences (because we do this for them and not just for us) are:

– The Meta Model – artful and incisive questions that cut to the heart of an issue and can then lead to effective solutions

– The Milton Model – powerfully influential methods for crafting your sentences in such a way that they guide the unconscious mind to new ways of thinking.

Emotional management

Let’s face it, all too often we are driven to an instant response to a situation or event by our emotions. People have said to me, “it’s almost as if I react according to some computer programme in my head.” Well, the plain fact is that we do just that. Our emotions are stored at an unconscious level and are often triggered according to some pre-learned patterns. Consider how a certain music track instantly recalls a memory and the emotion related to that. Why do some people react so strongly to the smell as they enter the dentist’s surgery? These are programmed responses and you can learn how to use that to positive and beneficial effect.

Imagine, as a coach, being able to generate massive self-motivation in your client. Trainers can stimulate a state of curiosity or burning desire to learn in their participants and speakers can take their audience on a journey of emotion as great as any Dickensian novel.

Tell us a story

For thousands of years, story-telling has been used as a tool for passing on information, imparting the rules and moral codes of societies and educating our children. Story-telling, or Metaphor, can be a powerful tool when used effectively. Coaches can use carefully constructed metaphor to facilitate new thinking and new behaviour. As a trainer, I became known as “the Story Master” by my participants in Turkey and India because I used stories as a powerful lead-in to training sessions. The best speakers I’ve seen in action know the power of a good story. Well, imagine taking that story and applying the art and neuro-science of NLP to make it reach deeper and gain even more power.

Creativity unleashed

NLP offers tremendous potential for creative thinking and effective problem solving. This can be highly effective in working with coaching clients, building high performing teams through training and group coaching and in encouraging audiences to step outside of the envelope and think differently. We can also make great use of these strategies for ourselves in creating new coaching interventions, preparing new speeches and writing new programmes.

Don’t “manage” stress, BUST it

at both a professional AND personal level, the ability to manage emotional response, think more creatively, communicate more effectively and help more people at a deeper level and in more ways will have a tremendously beneficial impact on US as professionals and our clients. Stress is a major killer these days and we have the weapons to fight it and to defeat it.

At the heart of NLP

NLP grew out of a process called “Behavioural Modelling,” which is the study of HOW and WHY people who are outstanding in their field got there. I have studied and modelled some truly excellent coaches, speakers, trainers and business people, replicating their strategies and using them and/or teaching them for the benefit of myself and others who want to achieve that high standard of performance.

In summary

Adding NLP to your skill set will give you a real boost in your performance and that can only be a good thing. Added to that, welcoming the attitude and approach that comes from NLP will take that to a whole new level.

I’ve scratched the surface here. My journey of NLP has lasted almost 20 years and I hope it will last many more. Yes, there are those who detract from it, many from a position of little personal experience. My personal opinion is that NLP has been so popular and so successful for almost 40 years because it works.

For the past few years, whilst focusing on my work with coaches, speakers and trainers, I have adapted the original programme in order to take a more focused and practical approach. My “Applied NLP” certification programme gained recognition in Europe, the Middle East and India because of its totally practical structure and content. I’m now preparing to announce my first programme back in the UK and look forward to welcoming people to a whole new level of influence.

For information on the “Applied NLP” programme, simply e-mail me on coachingwolves@ralphwatson.com