You know what? YOU are amazing. Your presence on this earth is a gift.
Thank you for your attention today to read this humble offering.
It is a grand world we live in when people across the world can exchange ideas and connect with each other, without ever meeting.
Don’t you agree?
What did this little intro do for you?
Did it make you feel a little better or bring a smile to your face? Did it make you roll your eyes? Think about someone you care about?
Words are a powerful method to create relationship and share experiences. (Certainly not the only way, as evidenced by a man and woman who don’t share the same spoken language ending up married).
When we think of “Language of Influence” in NLP, for many of you it evokes the sleight-of-mouth patterns taught in Practitioner and Master Practitioner Trainings. (For those new to NLP, it’s a set of patterns of change-work based on the therapeutic brilliance of Milton Erikson.) Erikson could literally transform people’s lives via a few magical sentences. (Which of course, was less about his words, and more about the powerful relationship he established with people’s unconscious.)
Wondering how soon this blog will get to the point?
This week, Gerry and I had another “NLP Study Group” session with our HR Consultant friends. The conversation had an undertone about influence. Here is the brief recap of that conversation:
We began with the question “Specifically, what is the best way to influence someone to change?”
The fundamental question behind that question was the first line of discussion: What is the “ecology” of the relationship you are trying to create? Simply put, as our HR consultant colleague said: “People like change … they just don’t like being changed.”
Our good intentions and skills as consultants and helping agents and leaders in guiding the journey of change are never enough to inspire someone to make change – especially when that change requires a lot of discomfort or effort.
Techniques and programs that force — or even invite change — work only with a high level of trust and deep unconscious permission as the backdrop. That is how Milton Erikson worked his magic. Another way of saying this is “I can’t want this change more than you do.” People have a built-in “Truth Meter” for when they are being “done to” (whether or not they’re paying attention to their meter is another discussion). If I want the change more than you do, the chances are good that my attempts to influence you will run into a brick wall of resistance.
Even when you have the direct authority to force the change onto someone through veiled or direct threats of punishment or retribution – such as in a manager/employee relationship – you cannot force another person to care or commit. Whether resistance shows up in a passive form or a very active form, its presence will show up when every time, when trust and permission are absent.
Let’s take an example: You are implementing a new compensation system for pilots in your airline company. Getting this right is one important way to create long-term survival for your industry and organization, but it will mean some people will earn less money. In spite of all the advanced negotiation tactics applied to this situation, the discussion across the entire almost completely focuses on the dynamics and tension between who has more power and whose intention is most positive: The pilots and their union, or the management. Who will lose or give in the most, the soonest? Nobody is able to focus on and build from the common interest they DO share: Finding a business model that allows airlines to stay in business, and not requiring government bailout. Even if pilot compensation isn’t the main solution, that is not the tone of the conversation.
So it goes in a world over-focused on “What’s in it for me?” When people feel “done to” by someone more powerful or out of touch with the power they really do have, they tend to only think about what they stand to lose if they give up or opt into the change being asked of them.
And the most powerful question is never being asked: “How can my actions increase and build trust within this relationship or system?”
If you find yourself working with a tough client or team or organizational dynamic (evidenced by the change not having the intended result), remember the power of words lives in how you build trust that results in connection, meaning, and relationship. Step out of your own “self-focused” world and try stepping into theirs – really. (That was not an insult, we are all self-focused most of the time. It’s the human condition).
I believe the true “power of language” to influence is the power to create permission. Using words to demonstrate curiosity. To keep your commitment to “leaving people in a better state then you found them.” To have the presence and flexibility to know when it’s the wrong time or place to force change, and let go.
This week’s blog is inspired by the audio CD set “Creating Irresistible Influence with NLP” – author Charles Faulkner. See NLP Comprehensive’s store for this and other products in our holiday sale.