Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to dealing with people in a manner to constructively get what you want. A typical workplace includes people from diverse backgrounds who all look at the world from different perspectives. NLP helps bridge the divides by examining how people think (neuro), how they communicate (linguistic) and how they develop thought patterns (programming). In the business world there are applications in sales, speaking and management.
Stress in the Workplace
Stress in the workplace arises from internal and external sources. Procrastination, work overload and poor time management are internal problems that create stress. Office politics, poor relationships, risk of injury and possibility of losing your job all contribute to stress. To implement the NLP reaction to these distress triggers, you must recast your thought patterns and how you interpret events. You may not be able to control the events, but you can control your reaction to them. If you can implement a positive interpretation of the stressors, then you can modify your internal thought process and reprogram you mind. If the stressors become stimulating and challenging, then you can conquer them.
Getting Your Way
In the workplace – indeed, in all walks of life – how we communicate determines how successful we are. Using the NLP approach you can achieve your goals if you cast your requests and presentations in a manner that the recipients will understand. People are motivated to either gain satisfaction or avoid pain. If you are making a request from your manager, consider what his motivating sentiment is. You do not want to promote benefits, for example, if your manager is concerned with avoiding losses.
Process Vs. Content
When communicating with others, it is important for you to differentiate between content and process. For example, suppose a person speaks up in a meeting and says: “It won't work and it's a mistake to continue with...” The content is the statement. The process is the intention of his statement. Using the NLP approach, you observe the person's tone of voice, demeanor and other body language. He will give you clues to what his real objection is. When answering his concern, address the process, not the content. How you frame your answer can defuse a tense situation, win a convert to your position or defer discussion to a later date.
Independent Vs. Cooperative
A significant part of successful dealing with people in the workplace is recognizing their style and adapting your communication to accommodate it. On one end of the continuum are those who prefer to work independently and do not perform well in a group environment. On the other end are those who thrive in a group environment and accomplish more in the give-and-take of a large group. If you are appealing for more independence from a cooperative boss, play up how you can work better on your own, but can still stay in touch with the group. If the boss is independent, show how you can both be productive while working apart.
Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.