How to apply NLP to the professional world

25 of November of 2022

The theory of neuro-linguistic programming has a very practical application in the workplace that can help you develop professionally. Want to know how? I’m going to explain how you can improve your performance, relationships, and communication at work based on this practice. 

NLP can help you develop skills in several professional fields. Some of the most outstanding processes of change can be seen in: therapy, education, health, business management, sales, leadership, coaching, team management, effective communication, personal growth, etc.

The importance of communication

It is very important to know how we express ourselves. One of the guidelines of NLP is the belief that there is no such thing as “non-communication.” We are constantly communicating, even though we tend to think that there are times when we aren’t. To give you an example, do the following: while sitting at your desk at the office, cross your arms and don’t open your mouth at all, don’t say a word, don’t make any gestures, be emotionless, and keep this up for a good while. The people around you are watching you, and they will be able to interpret something based on your physiology and draw conclusions. We can say that your body is communicating, even if that’s not your goal.  

How can NLP help you professionally?

Neuro-linguistic programming can help you in the business world in many ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Improving your ability to communicate with your peers and empathy through understanding.
  • Understanding the message they are conveying to you and therefore work more effectively and excellently.  
  • It helps us with “modeling” techniques when we find a boss or professional we admire and who we want to be like and learn from.
  • Developing mental models that help us develop our work fluently and effectively.
  • Developing observation and focusing on small details that previously went unnoticed but that provide us with a lot of information and strengthen our goals.
  • Helping us get to know ourselves better and empower ourselves.
  • In conflict resolution, as it helps us understand conflict better.
  • Getting ready for job interviews or performance evaluations. 

Always ask how, not why 

Many of the problems that arise in our daily lives come from not understanding or not correctly interpreting a problem and even from not knowing how to position ourselves to face it. The key lies in learning how to address it, with an emphasis on the “how.” 

When I explain this to my clients, I do it as follows:

Every time a problem arises, the first thing that comes to mind is to ask ourselves, “Why is this happening to me?” When we ask ourselves these questions, we are empowering our limiting beliefs and putting limits on our leadership and problem-solving abilities. 

Instead of asking yourself this, when a problem arises, ask yourself, “How can I solve this problem?” That changes things. Approaching the problem with the ”how” opens up an internal brainstorming process, and we can then open up a whole range of possibilities to address this problem. 

This simple technique will help you overcome your limiting beliefs in the workplace and harness all the potential you possess, reinforcing your image of yourself and building confidence and learning. 

Develop your professional career with these techniques:

There are two techniques that are frequently used in neuro-linguistic programming that will help us stand out in our work environment, improve relationships with our superiors, and empower us within the company.

  • Calibration: 

Calibration is a personal skill that we should learn to develop within the catalog of skills provided by NLP. This technique consists of observing people carefully to discover and be more aware of the world and other people’s circumstances and thus be able to put ourselves in their shoes.

To practice calibration with someone, we must develop our sensory acuity and pay close attention to the following signals:

  1. Visual cues:
    • Changes in skin color.
    • Pupil dilation.
    • Changes in posture.
    • Muscular changes.
    • Changes in the position and movement of the lips.
    • Changes in breathing.
  2. Auditory cues:
    • The speed of speaking.
    • The rhythm of the breath.
    • Volume, timbre, or tone.
    • The voice’s tonality.
    • How they speak: the words they use, pauses, etc. 

Any change, no matter how small, will be reflected in an external bodily manifestation that we can use to detect some of these signals in our interlocutor. 

Calibration consists of paying attention to and being aware of those changes by recognizing those same external manifestations. What does this do for us? First of all, it’s going to give me presence; I’m going to focus on the here and now. I will pay full attention to the person in front of me, and I will be aware of their physiology. This can give me a lot of information, such as identifying whether they are nervous or worried, or if they’re interested in what they’re doing or are there because they have no choice. Information is abundant, and if we look closely, we can draw conclusions about the other person and the situation they’re in.

  • Rapport:

You have to be careful because this technique can be confused with empathy. It does not have a strict relationship with friendship, sympathy, or agreeing with the other person. 

Rapport is a state of unconscious receptivity that is perceived about the person with whom we are dealing through non-verbal language. 

These movements, reflexes (what is called mirroring in coaching), have to do strictly with physiology, movements, posture, gestures, speed, and tone when speaking. In just one phrase, we could say that this technique consists of being in tune with the person in front of us.  

And how do I get in tune with the person I’m talking to? I’ll break it down with an example:

Imagine you are talking to someone and you’re both sitting in chairs. At one point, the other person crosses their legs. You detect this movement (because you are already trained in calibration), and little by little, unintrusively, and when the conversation is conducive to it, you also cross your legs, taking on the same posture as the person in front of you. 

This example would work for everything. We adopt the same posture as our partner in an appropriate way with the intention of being in tune and letting the conversation flow better.

We can identify four types of “mappings:”

  1. Direct reflection: when, for example, the other person crosses their legs, and I cross them in the same way.
  2. Lateralized reflection: when the other person crosses their legs (right over left), I cross them (left over right).
  3. Cross reflection: When the other person crosses their legs, and I cross my arms.
  4. Micro-muscular agreement: When the other person crosses their legs (right over left), and I don’t cross mine but make a gesture as if I were going to cross them without actually doing so. 

If you want to take rapport to a higher level, you can try to adapt your breathing to the other person’s by adopting a total attunement that harmonizes both of you in your conversation. Another alternative would be to accompany the rhythm of their breathing with subtle, harmonic movements of my hands to the beat of their breath, but this is another level. 

To find out if rapport is working properly, when you think you are in tune, you can try to move some part of your body slightly, such as moving your arms into a different position. If the other person follows that movement, we can say that we are “in sync”.

Success stories of using these techniques

Can we tell who uses NLP successfully? Is there any evidence more than just words written on paper? Is it really used?

The answer is a resounding yes. NLP is studied and used constantly in the working world and the political sphere. 

Since an image is worth a thousand words, I’m going to show you some photos where you can confirm the calibration technique, rapport, and some people modeling others.

Former United States President Obama is a great student of NLP; he uses its techniques and tools all the time.

Barack Obama usando PNL

Look at the photos and see how he takes on the posture of the person next to him, how he gestures, to make the person he is talking to, negotiating with, or trying to reach agreements with feel comfortable.

I hope I’ve shown you a little more about this wonderful world of neuro-linguistic programming and that you can put some of these tools into practice in your work environment. 

You can find similar content at these links:

How to get the most out of yourself in the workplace with coaching – Ferrovial Blog

What is coaching, and how can it help you? – Ferrovial Blog

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