One of the most exciting discoveries in business communication and psychology in the past 30 years has been the development of a communication and rapport-building tool called Neurolinguistic Programming.
If you’re not familiar with NLP, here’s the quick thumbnail. NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s at the University of Santa Cruz in California. At the time, Bandler was studying for his master’s degree in information sciences and mathematics. Grinder was a professor of linguistics (language). The two discussed how some people are able to “get through to difficult people, and others can’t” and NLP was conceived. It examines the relationships between thought, communication, and behavior. One of the basic definitions of NLP that I like to use in my trainings is that it bridges communication gaps.
The core of NLP focuses on positive outcomes, body language and physiology, the words we use to communicate our experiences, and our mental programming. Top business leaders, politicians and athletes around the world use NLP to build trust and influence. They use it as an internal success tool to visualize positive results in advance. It’s fascinating.
OK, so where does Social Media play into this mix? Obviously you can’t read body language with written blog posts, texts, Tweets, LinkedIn group discussions or on Facebook walls. But the clues and cues to help you build relationships online, engage new people, and connect with your industry leaders and ideal clients are literally right in front of your face.
Here’s how it works. NLP focuses on our five senses, or learning modalities. The three main ones for communication are sight, sound, and feel. While we are dominant in one of these areas, there is always an overlap.
- Visual – Most people are visual communicators. They learn by seeing and reading. They need to actually see how something is done in order to comprehend it. They use expressions like “Take a look at this” and “I get the picture.”
- Auditory – Others learn by hearing. They can hear something explained once or twice and have full understanding. These are individuals who prefer audio books and are not couch potatoes who spend time with TV and movies. Auditory people tend to use phrases like “That’s music to my ears” and “That sounds good to me.”
- Kinesthetic – These folks learn best through touch or feel. Artists and creative people are usually kinesthetic. They may say things like “I get the point” and “I feel comfortable with that plan.”
Think about what kind of communicator you are. If you are a visual communicator and have a face-to-face disagreement with a colleague who is auditory, you will clash. It’s as though you are speaking Spanish and he is speaking French. By listening closely, you can identify your colleague’s main modality and begin to use it in your conversation. You’ll soon be on the same page.
The goal of NLP is to bring people together by finding similarities instead of differences. It’s about positive outcomes and bridging communication gaps.
This holds true of the written/typed words in our Social Media activities. Consider these examples of phrases used online:
“I love this video”
“Google blurs the line…”
“Let’s touch base”
“Quick overview of”
“UN Chief sees corporate profit…”
“Best advice I’ve heard in a while”
“The way it sounds to me…”
If your ideal client Tweets an article link and writes “Best advice I’ve heard in a while”, he has dropped a clue (the word heard) that he may be an auditory learner. Take a quick minute to read his Profile or a blog post to discover more about his communication. This is called doing your homework. You can then Retweet him and add “Sounds like a solution for marketing pro’s.” You can also try and engage him one-on-one with a similar auditory response. Another option is to send him a link to a podcast or Teleseminar (audio programs) on a related subject. Bringing the conversation off-line is the goal so you can continue to connect with him.
By being aware of other people’s modalities and shifting your communication to match theirs, you will build trust and a connection. People will feel comfortable with you because you are “like” them. In turn, they will “like” you. NLP calls this practice “modeling” or “mirroring.”
Even though Social Media and other technology often has us speaking in tongue or 140 characters, the basic clues of NLP and building rapport are present.
NLP is the subconscious tool of influence. Social Media is the vehicle to drive that influence.