Our short series about various aspects of neurolinguistic programming concludes with a look at ‘you cannot not communicate’.  

What is neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and why is it relevant? 

NLP is an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California in the 1970s.  

It is based on the idea that there is a connection between the neurological processes, language and behavioural patterns that have been learned through experience. 

NLP can be used to achieve specific goals by raising self-awareness and changing established patterns of behaviour. 

You cannot not communicate 

Not doing anything? You’re still communicating. 

Not saying anything? You’re still communicating. 

We may be paying someone a compliment verbally but is our facial expression saying something else? How about the way we dress? Our tone of voice? Our body language? 

“We are communicating all the time, whether we realise it or not,” says Austin Wedge, Impellus Leadership, Management & Commercial Skills Trainer. “It’s impossible not to communicate a negative, neutral or positive message whenever we are with other people. This can be through body language, tone of voice, facial expression or even simply staying silent.” 

It’s vital to understand that the way we communicate, either intentionally or unintentionally, will have a huge impact on the way people interpret our meaning and respond to us. This understanding can enable a step change in the way we communicate by being more mindful of the signals we are sending out as compared to the actual messages that we want to convey.

Discover parts one and two in this series… 

Part one: The Map is not the Territory 

This rather curious phrase was originally coined by the scholar Alfred Korzybski in the 1930s. However, in the context of NLP it has a straightforward meaning: 

The ‘map’ is the way we see the world (the territory). It is subjective and therefore everyone sees and interprets things differently based on their own life experiences, perspectives and beliefs. 

The ‘territory’ is objective reality: how things actually are in the world. This can be very different to our individual perceptions. 

Find out more… 

Part two: Every behaviour has a positive intent 

It’s difficult to be positive when you perceive a colleague’s behaviour as the exact opposite. So can it be true that even apparently negative behaviour is rooted in a positive intention of some kind? This idea is key aspect of neurolinguistic programming and can transform your approach to ‘difficult’ colleagues. 

For NLP purposes, the idea that ‘every behaviour has a positive intent’ is referred to as a ‘presupposition’ (an underlying belief or assumption). Even apparently negative actions are presumed to have their roots in a positive intention of some kind.  

  • Is what you read as stubborn their fear of letting go of their work? 
  • Is what you read as stroppy a cry for friendly attention? 
  • Is what you see as solemnness a way of protecting themselves from the fear of being wrong? 
  • Is their seeming self-centred conversation because they feel under-rewarded or are trying their best at humour? 

Find out more… 

You may find useful: 

Neurolinguistic programming is explored in our Effective Communication Skills course. You will find out how your conscious and subconscious behaviours, actions and communication methods affect and influence others and how to use this knowledge to achieve a positive response from your team.