There are at least three interesting things about learning communication skills. Firstly however good or bad we may think we are we can always improve. Secondly improving our skills is very much under our own control and thirdly the gap between talking about improving our skills and actually doing it can be surprisingly large!
People often ask me how long it takes to become good at NLP, I normally mischievously reply anything between eight days and two life times. The reality is when anyone becomes good at NLP it ceases to be NLP, it’s just a part of how we are. Like the scaffolding on a building has an important part to play in construction of the building – but it is not the building. It’s always worth improving our skills because we will always come across new situations and new people and how we communicate plays a major part in helping us achieve what we want. – or us helping others achieve what they want.
So how can we improve our skills? Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the co-founders of NLP identified that the best communicators had three sets of capabilities. They know what they want, they have lots of behavioral flexibility and they notice the results they get. They can then change what they do until they get the results they want.
So next time you have a meeting or interaction decide what you want to achieve beforehand, plan what you’re going to do get it and notice the results you get. If you get what you want or it’s moving in the right direction fine, if not do something else.
In fact before any meeting its worth considering:
- Your state – what’s the best emotional and physical state to be in?
- Your outcome – what do you want to achieve?
- Rapport – how can you get into (or sometimes break) rapport with your colleagues?
- Questions – what would be the most useful questions to ask?
NLP will improve your capability in each of these areas and give you lots of choices of how to behave in any situation. You can choose to use them or not, but having the choice itself can be enough to help you get what you want more easily.
Talking and reading about communication skills can be very different from putting them into practice – just like reading a book about an activity can be different to doing it. Doing involves a small risk in return for a potentially large reward, just like you can pull a muscle in the process of getting fit. However the end result usually well justifies the effort.