You’re talking to a team member and despite your best efforts, they don’t understand what you’re saying. You think your message is clear but every time you communicate it’s painfully miss-interpreted by that person.
What’s missing is your understanding of the process of communication. In fact there are many communication models out there which help identify the science behind how we engage and decipher communication in our brains.
One of the better models is the NLP Communication Model.
NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. It’s a well-researched and practiced way of understanding the human psyche and the science behind our thoughts.
What we will be doing in this series of articles is to break down the process of communication, so you can understand exactly how you can improve the way you communicate with your team… so you can maximise your happy followers and get clarity as you lead.
Why The NLP Communication Model Is Important
- Did you know that around 96% of all our communication comes from non-verbal feedback? That means through the actual body language and signs we naturally use in our everyday lives, we give off clues as to how we feel;
It’s no wonder that if we’re not tuned into the science of communication, then we could be adding to the chaos of communicating poorly to our teams.
- In a Watson – Wyatt study, they found that companies that communicate effectively to their teams are 50% more likely to have below average staff turnover levels. People are simply happier and stick around;
- And in a Holmes report, they identify that $37 billion is lost each year to employees misunderstanding communication;
- Not to mention, 57% of all projects fail through poor communication, according to it-cortex.com.
Here’s the thing.
It’s quite a complex set of processes and factors involved in the human psyche. After All, we’re not robots.
The fact is this. You will often say something which you believe is right and clear, but will be interpreted in another way by somebody else. The reason comes in how we all run our internal process of communication.
And in some psychological circles, the joke is, 10 people can witness an event and you’ll get 10 different perceptions, all down to how our brains perceive the same thing.
Try 4 Million Bits of Information
According to our friends at https://jevondangeli.com, through our 5 senses, we’re typically taking in and processing around 4 million bits of information per second.
Now, the vast majority of this information absorption and assimilation takes place unconsciously.
If you think about it, it has to.
Consciously trying to process all this information might be fun, but it certainly wouldn’t be sustainable or practical.
Therefore, in order to discern and utilise relevant information, our nervous system filters it.
The problem is, our process of communication means that when we filter it, we do so by understanding the message through how we perceive the world around us.
In other words, we’re biased. We see what our filters make us see.
We interpret things according to how we’re ‘tuned’, mentally.
The Varying Factors That Filter Information
In the NLP Communication Model, we all have a number of scripts or factors that help us filter the world in our heads.
They come in the form of:
- Values and beliefs;
- Attitudes towards events and situations;
- Decisions we’ve previously made;
- Our meta programs or how we think and feel, and what makes up our personality.
And through these filters, we tend to do three different things with the information:
- We can delete and dismiss it, or certain parts of the information in an attempt to contain all the information we’re receiving. We quite literally focus on what we think is important, despite the actual reality;
- We could also distort it, through typical irrational views, like making something worse than it sounds or overreacting, for example;
- And we can generalise the information, by thinking the same thing every time. For instance, “We did this before, and it went wrong. It’ll go wrong again…” When we link experiences and memories to a generalised view, then we’re normally and irrationally assuming it will always be this way.
Due to this, we have our own unique perspectives on life.
You could verbally explain a concept to your team, around the latest product that you’re about to release… and you could quite literally get 5 different interpretations of what you meant.
You could tell a team member how to do something, and then find that they did something totally different.
Because (assuming your communication clarity is good) their internal filtering system is either distorting the information, deleting certain bits it believes is irrelevant or has generalised it too much.
We truly shape our reality or how we perceive our reality, by what happens inside our heads!
Once we have deciphered the information and given it meaning to us, we then act on that message.
So, our behaviours are a direct result of our feelings, which come from our filtering mechanism… which in many ways is flawed.
How Do You Communicate Better? We Use the NLP Communication Model
So, what does that mean to you as a leader?
Well, when we communicate, we must be mindful of this meta programming model. When people react in different ways, we must observe objectively and realise that its the NLP communication model that’s playing its role.
Don’t take it personal.
Try to think in their shoes.
It’s All About Meta Programs
In the NLP communication model, this concept of meta programs, has a big impact on how we react and what we make of the world.
A meta program is like a script. Much like software has scripts that run certain queries and processes, our brains have similar processes, working subconsciously, that affect how we see the world and how we react to it.
There are many types of meta programs. None are good nor bad, though. They just either work for you or not.
For instance, are you scared of setting goals in fear of failing?
Do you bounce from one partner to another, because something is missing?
Do you react angrily when someone gives you a certain look?
These are all from our meta programs or scripts.
We’ll discuss this in another article, but for now, by understanding the concept of meta programs it will allow you to understand your team members and their psychological tendencies. By doing this, you can change your communication style to suit them.
As a result, it will allow you to be the leader that everyone loves.
Quick Actions to Get you Started
Work with your team to try to see things in their eyes. Look to spend more time with them so you can tailor the message better for them, and so they can see things from a different angle.
This will take a bit of time, but we can all change our perceptions.
Mix Your Messages Up
When you’re giving a message, try to mix it up.
- Can you give them a diagram or infographic?
- Can you show them?
- Can you get them to feel it and touch the concept?
- Can they hear it, taste it and smell it?
Try to appeal to their many senses so you can increase the chance of them understanding this information.
Think in Their Shoes
Picture this: A manager spent 20 minutes, explaining to a team member why they needed to change and what needs to happen. Most of this conversation was spent around the business case for change and how this new way of working will enhance the business’ position in the market.
When this person returns home and tells his wife, he spends all the time talking about how his job is affected and that he’ll probably get fired.
See how we can change the message based on our mind’s meta programming and filtering?
Look out for these clues in their reactions and think ahead to see how you can counter them.
Be clear and patient in your communication.
And be mindfull of how the NLP Communication Model can have a positive impact in how you can influence and communicate with your team members.