How to use neuro-linguistic programming at work

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Stressed accountants are turning to neuro-linguistic programming to make them communicate more powerfully, work smarter and be more confident. But what is it and how do you use it?

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) explores the relationships between how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour and emotions (programmes).

The idea is that by reassessing the relationship between these three things we think more clearly, communicate better and handle stressful situations better.

NLP’s proponents claim it has transformed their lives in work, love and sport. They also say it has influenced how we understand psychology and psychotherapy.

For example, cognitive behavioural therapy – a popular type of therapy based on the idea that if you can help people to change their thoughts, this will help them to change the way they feel – shares some principles with NLP.

Here’s three ways you can apply it at work:

1. Set the right goals

Although most people in business accept the benefits of setting goals, the thoroughness of the NLP goal-setting technique has additional advantages.

NLP coach and author Jeremy Lazarus argues one of his clients saved around £220,000 just by answering the NLP goal-setting questions he asked her.

She had intended to spend £300,000 on a publishing venture, but the questions made her realise she could achieve the same benefit by spending £80,000.

2. Use the right motivational language

Use NLP to work out peoples’ personality traits when talking to them. Use this information to motivate people.

One motivational technique is known as ‘carrot and stick’. If you identify that someone is more carrot-motivated, use language such as ‘These are our targets and objectives,’ ‘This is what we’re aiming for,’ or ‘This is what you’ll receive if we achieve X.’

For someone who is more stick-motivated, use words such as, ‘Unless you do X, you won’t achieve Y,’ ‘We don’t want X to happen, do we?’ or ‘Let’s make sure we don’t make mistakes on this one.’

3. Handle objections the right way

Another NLP technique is ‘reframing’. This involves putting a positive or different spin on a situation. Reframing can be used to maintain a positive state of mind and handle objections when presenting or selling.

For example, if a client is saying your products are too expensive, and you know they aim to be a market leader in their field, you could reply: ‘Isn’t it more important to be seen as a market leader?’ or ‘The benefits of being seen as a market leader will lead to increased profits of £X, which outweighs the cost of our premium service.’

Nick Huber is a freelance journalist and has written for Accounting Technician magazine, The Guardian and BBC.

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