Business NLP: Know thy self and others for long term success

By By Sonya Yeh Spencer, ITA NLP Trainer, Educator, Coach

The old Chinese saying, roughly translated here, “Know thy self and your enemy will ensure you win every time” doesn’t sit so well with me these days.  I prefer to think “Know thy self and others for long term success”.  Why do I say for “long term success”?  Because by actively understanding yourself and others, you can appreciate and act accordingly in response to the dynamic nature of a relationship.  For example, we were working with an overseas associate to create an alliance two years ago.   Both, “Tom” and “Peter” are in partnership and experts in the executive coaching area in Asia. We know them personally as well as professionally.  They have a very wide network of top connections.  Some key clients would like to sponsor this joint-venture.  It looks great on paper and when we discussed over the phone and via web conferences, everything is sound.   We progress to meet in person to progress the project further and to get to know the context of the collaboration.  The way we utilised Perceptual Position Shifts, Well Formed Outcomes and Outcome, Intention and Consequences,  saved us a lot of time, energy and money.  Here is how we used all three of them:

  1. We first clearly identified our own Outcome, Intention and Consequences and Well Formed Outcomes
  2. After meeting our potential business partners and discussing various aspects of the collaboration, we used Perceptual Position Shifts to “step into their shoes”.
  3. Whilst in their shoes, we identified our representation of each individual’s Outcome, Intention and Consequences and Well Formed Outcomes.  Also, how to they see us and how they would react to our suggestions.
  4. Based on the information we have elicited from ourselves, we come up with a few different options to suggest ways to work together before the next meeting.
  5. In the next meeting, before we provided any kind of suggestions, we validated the information we have elicited from ourselves.  Specifically, we did this by taking them through the Outcome, Intention and Consequence, and Well Formed Outcomes verbally.
  6. We then moved very quickly to identify gaps in our own representations and any gaps in our ability to calibrate in the situation.

As a group, over a period of a few months, we had been able to progress. We used all three NLP patterns nearly every step of the way to test as elements in the context changed, so did the dynamic in the relationship.  Soon we identified critical “insights” into the missing elements and we were then sure that the collaboration was not for us.   The best thing was that we knew by then exactly how to exit at the right stage, so no damage was done and no relationships were lost.

The collaboration went ahead without us, “Tom” and “Peter” found other people to step into our role.   The alliance lasted about a year and as far as we have heard from “Tom” and “Peter”, they did not recover their investment, nor did their sponsors.  However, two years later, “Peter” is in contact and has another great idea for us ……

The key to using these patterns in this context are as follows:

  1. You know your Outcome, Intention and Consequence well so you can evaluate the impact of any changes or decisions.
  2. You understand that elements in a relationship change and you need to consistently apply these patterns.
  3. The ‘insights’ you get from using these patterns are your representations (impressions, considerations, reservations) of the people involved and the impact that the context has on them.  It is not that you gain access to read them like a book by using these NLP Patterns, therefore, you need to verify your assumptions.
  4. These patterns help you gain access to your own set of representations that may not have been available to your conscious awareness.

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