My NLP Skills At Work by Kim Ralphs

I disappointed my sweetheart on Christmas with an unwise gift selection. Although she is usually easy going, her reaction to my presentation of these carefully chosen treasures seemed quite extreme, bordering on hysterical.

Her eyes went up, then down, then back and forth, then glared straight into mine. I gathered my NLP wits about me as quickly as I could. Attempts at matching her non verbally seemed ineffective. I successfully mirrored her head angle and posture, but her contorted facial expression was beyond my skin’s elasticity.

Trying to explain my logical reasons for picking these fine gifts was met with enormous resistance. (But, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback) In my desire to communicate better, I thought it unwise to match her verbal tone, but my attempts to match her rate of speech kept slipping behind. I opted for an upward inflection, so as to seem approachable. Perhaps I should have gone the other way, falling down, to sound more credible? (The element with the most flexibility in any system will have the most influence)

I was able to match her breathing for only a few moments, until I started getting quite dizzy. (The mind and the body are part of the same system) At this point, I wisely put my head between my knees. (If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else) Unfortunately, this invited vigorous back pounding. To be fair, I can’t be sure her blows weren’t therapeutic in intent. (Behind every behavior is a positive intention)

Upon recovery of about half my wits, I tried to analyze her primary representational system. When I heard her say phrases like, “this sucks”, “rubs me the wrong way”, “won’t cut it” and “hits me right here”, I easily identified a Kinesthetic reaction. I feared that I might soon be hearing “smash”, “throw”, and “crawl”.

My concern increased exponentially when I recalled that words are only seven percent of communication. Weren’t more violent body blows likely? As a precaution, I jumped to the far side of the room, beyond her reach. (People always make the best choices available to them at the time)

With her head and body leaning forward menacingly, her weight on both feet, and bloodshot eyes wide open and glaring, I was certain she was fully “associated”. Perhaps in her childhood she had experienced a similar traumatic gift exchange? “Long Johns and socks again, Santa?” Was she looking up and to the left? No, now it’s down, and to the right, perhaps getting in touch with old wounds? Was she deep into her own private map, and not anywhere near my territory? I should have bought her a GPS.

What can I say? What can I do? How can I possibly reframe this ugly picture and make it a thing of beauty, a work of art? How can I help her see my efforts to please her in a more positive light? But, of course, people already have all of the resources they need. I only needed to access my resources, in this treacherous place, and the sooner the better. I knew a solution was at my fingertips, and if not, a hasty escape might be arranged. It’s very good to have choices.

Suddenly, from out of my stormy subconscious, I was hit by a thunderbolt! NLP Presupposition Numero Uno: “The meaning of your communication is the response you get.” Perhaps I hadn’t been thinking of her in a way that would bring her happiness? Did her understanding of the meaning of my gifts communicate a positively horrible picture? A picture of some uncaring dimwit? Well, we are always communicating. What else could this mean? A re-framing was sorely needed.

Finally, I’ve learned if I can change my beliefs and feelings, I can surely change my behavior. Anything can be accomplished if the task is broken down into small enough chunks! I see a small, no, better make that a large denomination gift card chunking her way soon. It just proves that no one is wrong or broken, people work perfectly. If only I’d found such perfection in the execution of gift selection!