At heart, resolving conflicts with others and solving
people problems in
general turns on effective communication. Often,
before people open themselves to guidance for a deeply rooted
personal problem or a simple computer glitch, their need to feel
and respected plays a central role. Perhaps,
the most sophisticated model of communicating was dubbed
[NLP] by its developers, Bandler and Grinder. Using
Noam Chomsky’s transformational grammar model of how people
learn languages, they studied the linguistic patterns of several
famous therapists, known for getting spectacular results.
Many common patterns were found among
those therapists as well as noted teachers
and salespeople. Later,
they developed models of non-verbal behavior.
The following small slice of the main patterns is my take condensed
from innumerable trainings, books, web resources, and my own
II. Three Steps For Successful Commuinication:
rapport, 2) Gathering information,
Setting agreements or outcomes. Complex problem solving communications start
with rapport, the foundation for all future
exchanges of information. If that information describes the
current state and desired
outcomes in sufficient quality, it’s then possible to
proceed setting workable goals or
Rapport: People in rapport respond
to each other’s cues (It’s not a matter of whether they like each
other). Specific skills for building
rapport” skills: Here style refers
to non-verbal behavior or cues. It may
seem like common sense, but research also supports that when people
others non-verbal behavior they communicate better.
(a). Match the
others’ voice tempo, tone, and
(b). Match the
others’ posture, movements, and
rapport” skills: Here content refers
to language: both the
specific words a person uses but also the meaning and importance they
(a). Acknowledge the
their language patterns— including, e.g., matching the other’s
visual, auditory, and kinesthetic predicates
to their criteria (what’s most important to them)
cultural and sub-cultural preferences throughout all
B. Gathering Information: An ideal goal is to obtain a complete
description of how the other behaves, thinks, what’s most important
them, what they want, what would motivate them to go for it, etc.; and
for yourself. This may seem
obvious. Yet, people rarely articulate
what they want in a straightforward way. Rather,
they say what they don’t want without realizing they aren’t
identifying what they do want. Or they
may be reluctant to share their criteria, feelings, etc. for a variety
reasons—fear, lack of trust, denial, powerlessness, etc..
It could take years to master the complete
NLP model for gathering information and setting outcomes.
Only a few points are noted below:
“outcome questions” as opposed to “blame frame questions” to make a
map of an outcome:
||What do you want?
|Why are things not
||What would it look,
|How does it limit
||What will be
evidence that you
|How have you failed?
||What is most
|Who is to blame?
||What will happen in
your life if
you get it?
|When do you want it?
||How have you failed?
in terms of what people see, hear, and feel
If a co-worker frantically tells you that
Char had an accident, it’s a mistake to assume that there was a car
what's most important to the other party: their most highly held
pace, pace, lead
there is any resistance, preface your questions and comments by acknowledging
the other’s most highly held criteria
this repeatedly before leading with more questions.
yourself to listen without sidetracking energy to your own agenda.
Making rebuttals and getting angry are very
healthy responses in very specific circumstances, but most of the time
derail energy that could be focused on the speaker back to the
Try this experiment for
three weeks: Monitor your own listening patterns.
Notice the frequencyand intensity of
how your attention goes toward a
counterexample, anger, etc. even if only in
own internal dialogue.
resistance, return to rapport building
confirmation questions as you go along.
I’m understanding you, your complaint isn’t so much about the change
of schedule, but that nobody consulted with you? That was terribly
to you in the past and you felt ignored.
that it? am I getting it?
“Mark and Jo
are fighting” doesn’t tell us how (physically, verbally, etc.);
“unspecified referential indices”,
words like “it” and “they”, lead to
misunderstandings when we assume what "they" refers to.
This step is
interwoven with the first two.
without rapport, information gathering is too inhibited for goal
Expect temporary blocks in coming
They merely indicate a need to
go back for more rapport or information.
with rapport skills.
immediately rebuttal objections.
objections and respond with acknowledgment before offering
another path towards the goals. Argue
well for the other side!
It may seem
counter intuitive, but a famous attorney who lost only one case in 40
preaches exactly that.
the “if…then frame
”, a fundamental negotiating tool.
Ask questions of the form “if I do…, will you
If the person says yes,
you’ve reached agreement; if not, ask about what needs to be different:
“is there anything else you need to know to
go ahead and make the decision to hire me?”
they answer this question, you’ve identified a missing piece and now
have the chance to supply it and get the job.
to finalize agreements
agreements fail for lack of an explicit request for agreement:
“So, are we
set? do you agree to this plan?”.
the backtrack frame
: summarize major agreements as you go
Obtainable goals meet “well
a) keep the outcome
stated in sensory based language
of what the goal looks,
feels like in detail
; b) ensure that goals can be initiated
by the party you’re working with; c) shape goals consistent
with the person’s values and abilities
; d) specify the appropriate
(learn assertiveness, yes, but practice when a cop stops you for
and 5) preserve benefits of current behaviors.
When progress bogs down
If two friends
are going out to eat but each wants to go to a
restaurant, ask both “what is
that you’ll get out of
going to that particular
One may say, for the type
food (Thai), the other for the atmosphere
With that info you
the opportunity to “chunk down” to
find a restaurant that meets
by appealing to a higher criteria
[Client complains of the smallness of an apartment.]
“Exactly,it is small.
is more important, feeling cramped at
times inside this kitchen or feeling relaxed that you’ll get out of the
more often since its located near your mother who loves to do daycare
“as if” frames
There a few handy
phrases that can readily help people access inner resources by
“pseudo-orientation” by time, person, or place.
you were the person in charge…”; “Imagine six months from now having
attained your goal,
what did you do that
enabled you to…”.