Monthly Archives: April 2012

Fake it ‘Til You Make it: How to Convince Others You’re Confident

Are you frustrated by feelings of low self-esteem, inadequacy and shyness?  Do you struggle seeing “naturally” confident people and wish that – just once – you could feel like they do throughout your daily life?

Well get over yourself!  Really, there are very few people in the world who are born confident.  For the rest of us, becoming more confident is something that we must work towards through careful, conscious self-analysis and repeated effort.

This might sound a bit touchy-feely, but the reality is that if you want to be perceived as more confident, you’ve got to take a good, hard look at how you present yourself to the world, as well as how you can consciously alter your behaviors to appear more confident.

But before we can begin this process, it’s important that you understand how powerful communication really is, as well as how you can wield it more effectively.

True communication extends well beyond the words that come out of our mouths.  It encompasses the personal style we choose to project, the body language and mannerisms we put forth, as well as the sub-conscious cues we give to others about our personalities and mental states.

As an example, try to remember the last time you met someone new.  Chances are you took in a great deal more detail about this person than you might initially think.  Beyond the specific words he used, you probably also noticed how he was dressed, what his demeanor was like and how comfortable you felt around him.  Each of these specific elements occurred because of the communication this person was using.

Now, reverse this situation.  Whenever you encounter new people – or even interact with the people you already know – they’re interpreting this same information about you.  If that thought makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry.  Though the thought of others subconsciously processing so much information about you might seem scary, the upside is that being aware of this process gives us the opportunity to control our communications and appear more confident.

To start doing this effectively, begin with an NLP exercise called “Shifting Perceptual Positions.”  Essentially, through this activity, you imagine your own past behaviors from three positions – your own point of view, the point of view of your conversation partner and from the point of view of an outsider.

Start by calling up the memory of a past situation in which you felt uncomfortable.  Try to recreate in your mind every detail of the encounter.  What were you wearing and how did these clothes make you feel?  What specific words did you say?  How did you say these words and where did you stumble in your conversation?  What can you remember of your body language?

At first, try to recreate the experience from your own point of view and highlight the specific instances where you felt you weren’t coming across as confident.  Then, imagine how the person you were interacting with viewed the situation.  To change your point of view, envision yourself interacting with the less confident you – again, making note of instances where you perceive this version of you coming across as uncomfortable.

Finally, imagine the entire process a third time from the point of view of an outsider.  If you randomly came across two people interacting in this way, what conclusions could you draw about the participants?  What specific behaviors do you notice that makes one party appear less confident than the other?

Hopefully, examining a specific past experience in this way should give you a good idea of a few potential behaviors that can be changed in order to make you appear more confident.

To bring about these specific changes, we can use what’s known as the NLP “swish pattern”.  Through the use of this exercise, you’ll enable your mind to quickly “swish” between unconfident and confident behaviors, allowing you to appear more assertive in any situation you’d like.

The first step in this process is to clearly envision one specific instance where you felt awkward or uncomfortable in your mind.  Make it a single snapshot that embodies all of the behaviors you feel are preventing you from being seen as unconfident.  Fully experience this moment, allowing yourself to feel the physiological symptoms of anxiety, the sense of embarrassment and the feelings of low self-esteem that define the “less confident” you.

Now, set that picture aside, and create a different image in your mind – one of you coming across as assertive and confident in your interactions with others.  If you can call upon a particular memory in which you felt this way, that’s great.  If not, create your own vision of what confidence feels like, allowing yourself to experience every element of this sensation.

Once you have these two images in your mind, go to a neutral place and relax for a few minutes before calling up the first mental image.  Then, switch the pictures in your mind while saying the word “swish.”  Repeat this process several times until the positive image begins to feel more natural to you than the negative one.  Whenever you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, repeat this mental “swish,” and you should immediately be transported to a state of mind that allows you to act in a confident manner, in any situation.

Image: Victor1558

3 Techniques That’ll Get You a Date

In today’s ultra-connected society, getting a date just isn’t as easy as it used to be!  Pick up lines are overplayed, while the constant stream of information provided by popular dating websites makes screening potential partners easier than ever.

So if you’re struggling to find love in this frustrating situation, consider the following NLP techniques:

Technique #1 – Anchor Yourself

If you’ve ever built yourself up as “Rico Suave” in your mind, and then crashed and burned when it came to approaching a real-life dating prospect, you know how easy it can be to feel confident in your mind and have your actions betray you in person.

To remedy this situation, we can use an NLP technique called “anchoring.”  Essential, an  anchor allows us to call up a specific mental state or set of physiological processes at a moment’s notice, through the use of an anchoring behavior.

For example, suppose you want to be able to instantly call up the feelings of confidence and assertiveness needed to get a date in today’s crowded singles scene.  By creating an anchor that’s triggered by a specific action – say, pinching your left palm – you’ll be able to activate these powerful emotions on-the-spot, making your pick up attempts more likely to succeed.

To create an anchor, you must first identify memories or past experiences in which you felt the way you’d like to be able to recall on a moment’s notice.  For best results, these memories should be as powerful as possible.  Take some time to simply re-live and experience these sensations, allowing them to fill you up with the chosen sensations you’re trying to anchor.

Then, at the peak of your experience, fire the physical signal you plan to use as your anchoring behavior.  If, following our example, you’ve chosen to use a quick pinch to your left palm, repeat this action several times before ending your recall.

Repeat this process over a few days to enhance the connection between your desired mental state and your anchoring behavior.  Once you feel the association is strong in your mind, trying firing the anchor in a neutral situation by engaging in your anchor behavior when you aren’t actively recalling your chosen memory.  Ideally, if you’ve set up your anchor correctly, you should be able to call up your desired sensations quickly and easily – even in the stressful situation of approaching a potential date.

Technique #2 – Positive Anchors

In addition to creating your own anchors to improve confidence and assertiveness on the dating scene, you can also implant subtle anchors in the singles you encounter.

The key to doing so effectively lies in recognizing that all of our interactions with another person contribute to the mental image of us that this person retains.  For example, if you approach a potential date and consistently complain about your job, how hard it is to get a date or other problematic aspects of your life, you’re creating a negative anchor in your partner’s mind that associates you with complaining and  poor outlook.

Instead, for maximum success on the dating scene, we want to create anchors that associate us with good things, increasing the likelihood that our potential partners will be interested enough to move forward with the relationship.

To do so, try to control the conversation in a way that makes you appear charming, charismatic, intelligent, funny or any other positive characteristic you want to be associated with.  You can achieve this by sharing stories, talking about your interests or even asking questions about what makes your target date happy.  If you feel a complaint or negative statement coming on, excuse yourself until you can regroup to a more positive mental state to avoid decreasing the potency of your anchor.

Obviously, the anchors you encourage in other people won’t be nearly as strong as the ones you create for yourself.  However, by creating positive associations to you in the mind of the person you’re trying to pick up, you’ll increase the chances of getting a date by simply implanting the suggestion that you’re a good person to be with.

Technique #3 – Embedded Commands

Finally, there are embedded commands – one of the most commonly referenced “seduction techniques” in NLP.  When using embedded commands, you implant an instruction within a more innocuous question or statement so that it can slip – undetected – into your potential date’s mind.

As an example, you could embed the command, “We should be together,” inside the seemingly harmless sentence, “Isn’t it funny that we should be together like this,” after running into an acquaintance you’re trying to connect with.

Be aware, though, that using embedded commands in a dating situation requires a serious level of proficiency that novice NLP practitioners may not have grasped.  Not only do poorly-executed embedded commands blur the line between acceptable usage and intrusive pseudo-hypnosis, they can also come off as downright cheesy when used improperly.

So if you do decide to make use of this persuasion technique in the dating world, practice in advance to maximize your chances of a successful outcome.

Image: Alex E. Proimos

3 Proven Negotiation Tactics to Control Salary Negotiations

No one really *likes* salary negotiations, but the truth is, these five minutes of your time – when executed correctly – can have a tremendous impact on the strength and stability of your financial life over time.  Here’s why…

Suppose you’re interviewing for a mid-level engineering position and have been offered a low salary of $45,000/year.  While you might argue with yourself that you can certainly live on less money each month, the true impact of this lowball isn’t just seen in your bi-weekly take-home pay.

Because future salary negotiations and pay increases will be based on your current salary (for example, you may receive a 2% increase in pay twice a year), accepting a lower starting salary will limit the potential of your future salary increases as well.  In addition, if your company offers a percentage-based match for your 401k retirement account, taking a low salary means lower contributions to this account – potentially leaving you financially unprepared for old age.

When all of these different factors are taken together, some experts estimate that negotiating as much as $5,000/year more over your offered salary can have an overall financial impact of $100,000+ over ten years of employment – making your salary negotiations some of the most critical minutes you’ll ever go through.

Obviously, then, it’s in your best interest to learn how to negotiate effectively – and NLP techniques can help you do it.  Consider implementing all of the following tactics to your next salary discussion and see what a difference a little negotiation can make!

Tactic #1 – Matching and Mirroring to Build Rapport

Depending on the company you’re interviewing with, earning this extra $5,000/year or more through salary negotiations may be as simple as asking your future employer to consider the raise.  Companies that are doing well financially often have a significant amount of “wiggle room” to bring on talented employees – and if you’re to the point of negotiating salary, you already know they value you in this way!

If you encounter signals that indicate your negotiations may not proceed as smoothly – for example, hedging language or an HR representative who appears uncomfortable – incorporate NLP mirroring into your salary discussions.

Take a look at the person with whom you’re negotiating and attempt to mirror everything about him.  How is he sitting in his chair?  How frequently are his hands moving?  What tone of voice is he using?  Where are his eyes focusing?  By mimicking these actions, you’ll build a level of subconscious rapport with your representative that may lead to better salary negotiation outcomes.

Tactic #2 – Reframing Your Value as an Employee

Modulating your physical behaviors to match your representatives can be a surprisingly effective technique, as it leads to the feeling of “We’re all in this together!”

However, if simple mirroring isn’t enough to get the job done to your satisfaction, try to pick up on the specific language your negotiator is using to shoot down reasons for denying your compensation requests.  These clues may provide insight into potential opportunities to reframe your value as an employee, thus justifying your higher salary request.

One way to reframe salary negotiations is to move the focus away from what you’ll cost to bring on in order to focus on the type of value you’ll bring to the company.  For example, suppose that, although you’re being brought on as an engineer, you have sales or public speaking experience in the past that makes you a more effective employee than engineering hires with no communication skills.

Whatever your “x factor” is, drawing attention to it and in order to reframe your salary discussion to focus on value – rather than dollars and cents – can be a powerful way to take control of the negotiations.

Tactic #3 – Use Empowering Questions to Guide the Negotiation

Finally, once you’ve established a proper NLP reframe that positions you as a valuable hire apart from your resume and stated experience, it’s time to seal the deal with empowering questions.

Essentially, empowering questions are designed to bring about the response you want, but to do so in a way that allows the subconscious buy-in of your salary negotiation representative.  Empowering questions are best understood by looking at the classic sales example of a potential buyer who, after watching a sales presentation asks, “That’s great, but does the product come in red?”  The sales person who answers, “No,” has a significantly lower chance of closing the deal than the sales person who uses empowering questions to ask, “Would you buy it if it did?”

Now, let’s apply an empowering question to our salary negotiations.  If you’ve used reframing to demonstrate your value to the company, use an empowering question to close the deal.

For example, if you’ve made your case that your exceptional communication skills will help the company close more business and eliminate the training costs most engineers need to boost their interpersonal talents, you could use the empowering question, “If I brought in an extra $100,000/year in business and eliminated $10,000 in training costs, wouldn’t that be worth an extra $5,000/year in salary?”

Of course, be careful not to promise more than you can deliver, as you’ll likely be held accountable to these standards once you’ve accepted the job.  Be realistic, but don’t sell yourself short – truly effective salary negotiations rarely occur when you undercut yourself!

Image: 401K

Using Human Psychology to Create a Compelling Sales Offer

Whether you’re selling a defined physical product or service – or simply trying to “sell” others on the idea of following you – you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you aren’t paying attention to the basic principles of human psychology.

When you take the time to look at how people making purchase decisions, as well as the specific factors driving the emotional responses they experience when confronted with a buying opportunity, you’ll find that you’re better able to tailor your pitch in order to create a more compelling sales offer.

Here’s how to do it…

Step #1 – Understand your prospect’s motivations

In NLP, we often talk about the key distinction of being “towards” or “away” motivated.  That is, are we more likely to be persuaded by the opportunity to move “towards” a benefit or “away” from a potential source of pain?  Understanding which camp your prospect falls into could significantly change the way you structure your sales pitch.

For example, if you’re selling a training course, you could market your product based on the benefits users will experience or by highlighting the opportunities these participants will miss out on if they don’t enroll.  Since tailoring your pitch to the wrong source of motivation wouldn’t be nearly as effective, it’s important to take some time to figure out appeal will resonate best with your audience.

But how do you find this out?  Simple – listen to the words your prospects are using, either in in-person conversations or through web comments and other types of digital communication.  If you hear your prospects discussing their hopes, dreams and goals, it’s likely that they’re “towards” motivated, meaning that you’ll want to focus on selling your product’s benefits.

On the other hand, if your audience spends most of its time talking about missed opportunities or other regrets, you’ll want to craft a sales pitch based on “away” appeals to meet this audience’s needs.

Step #2 – Understand stereotypical buying behavior

No matter how much we might argue that we’re logical, rational thinkers, the reality is that most of us make purchase decisions based on emotions and feelings.  Although we may use facts to justify the conclusions we’ve already drawn, the actual decision to purchase is typically rooted in our emotional thought processes.

So what does this mean for salespeople?  Well, for starters, it means that we need to focus on achieving and ideal emotional state in order to encourage the sales process to move forward.  And to uncover exactly what that ideal emotional state is, we need to delve deeper into what our prospects are thinking and feeling to determine their hidden, “hot button” emotional issues.

Suppose the training course we’re selling in our previous example is a personal finance coaching package, which we plan to target to young families that are struggling with debt.  Based on our examinations of the niche, we’ve found that our target prospects are typically more “away” motivated, as they worry about how they’ll be able to provide for their growing families in the future.

Now, by putting ourselves in the shoes of these couples, we can think about the emotional triggers that may make them more likely to purchase.  For example, the couple in question may be concerned about how rising college costs will affect their future financial security.  By highlighting how our personal finance class will help them to be prepared for this situation, we’ve both raised a potent emotional “red flag” and demonstrated how our product will eliminate this concern, which may trigger a buying decision.

Step #3 – Understand how to clearly convey value

The final key to using human psychology to create a compelling sales offer is to understand how to convey value to our sales prospects.  Truly, the value of an object is never set in stone – it’s up to you, as the salesperson, to create value for your audience within the products and services you’re selling.

As an example, consider our personal finance training course.  To a wealthy heiress, it has very little value as understanding these principles will likely have little impact on her world.  On the other hand, to a struggling, growing family, the value of this course could be akin to being thrown a floatation device after falling into rough waters.

However, in order to get our struggling family to recognize how important our course will be for their financial well-being, we need to find a way to convey that sense of value.  There are a few different sales techniques you can use to accomplish this goal:

  • Use targeted stories to get readers to claim ownership of the value of your product.
  • Compare your product or service to other to highlight key elements of value.
  • Share social proof indicators (for example, testimonials from past customers) that indicate other people have found value in your product or service offering.

It can take some practice to determine how to integrate these value signifiers into your pitch, but you’ll likely find that taking the time to learn how to use human psychology to craft a compelling sales offer will be well worth the effort in terms of increased sales and opportunities.

Image: One from RM

Are You a Thought Leader or a Thought Follower?

Being recognized as a thought leader within your industry offers a number of different advantages.  When people look to you for advice and guidance, you’re able to make sales more effortlessly, build a following of devoted customers more easily and pick up on upcoming market trends more quickly.

But how can you tell if you’re securing these powerful advantages through your rightful position as an industry thought leader?  Let’s take a look at some of the following characteristics of a thought leader versus a thought follower, as well as how you can model your own behavior using NLP techniques in a way that increases your standing as a strong leader in your field.

First, let’s look at some of the characteristics of true thought leaders:

  • Thought leaders are often the first to publish information on new, upcoming subjects.  You’ll frequently see their names repeated throughout the news, simply because they’re the ones creating it.
  • Thought leaders share information that’s based on their own experiences and understanding of a subject.  They don’t re-hash advice from others in the industry – instead, they offer their own valuable insight into new and existing subjects.
  • Thought leaders have no difficulty maintaining their online and offline followings.  Because they publish good, authoritative content, followers are drawn to their personal brands naturally and go out of their way to publicize their thought leaders’ work.

Now, contrast this powerful image with the stereotypical “thought follower”:

  • A thought follower is often the last to speak out on new topics.  He gets his news from other sources and then regurgitates it, adding nothing new or valuable to industry discussion on a given topic.
  • A thought follower’s activities rarely include innovation or discovery.  Instead of engaging in the work that will result in new industry insight, they ride the coattails of the industry thought leaders who take on this work.
  • Thought followers often have difficulty building a “following” of their own, whether they’re trying to persuade customers to buy or social media readers to share their content virally.  They may wonder why they aren’t able to gain traction in the way their industry’s thought leaders can, without stopping to think that it might be because they add nothing new to the conversation.

Obviously, these two definitions represent extreme examples.  In fact, it’s much more likely that you’ll fall somewhere between these two opposite ends of the spectrum, demonstrating some characteristics of both thought leaders and thought followers.

However, if you demonstrate any characteristics of being a thought follower, that means there’s room for improvement.  Check out the following process for improving your standing within your industry and increasing the odds that you’ll be respected and followed as an authority figure and thought leader within your niche:

Step #1 – Stay on top of industry news

For many thought leaders, the process of staying up-to-date on developments within their industries isn’t an item on a “to do” list – it’s something that simply occurs because of how engaged they are with their industries.

However, if you feel like you’re always playing “catch up” and missing out on the opportunity to be first in line on a breaking news story, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to schedule time into your day to stay on top of industry news.  To do so, find the most reputable news sources in your industry, block off a chunk of time on your calendar that coincides with the times when these sources are most active and then get in the habit of releasing your thoughts on recent developments right away.

Step #2 – Innovate

Thought leaders contribute substantively to their industries through innovation.  They don’t constantly report on the news of others – instead, they make the news!

Fortunately, innovating and adding something new to your niche isn’t as challenging as it sounds.  How many pieces of “conventional wisdom” can you think of that drive your industry, despite a complete lack of proof?  Creating news within your industry can be as simple as conducting research that challenges the examples of status quo you’ve uncovered and sharing the results with other thought leaders in your field.

Step #3 – Model the behaviors of established thought leaders

Thought leaders have a way of interacting with their followers that reinforces their perceived authority and personal brand within their fields.  They’re authoritative, confident and self-assured – all of which are characteristics you can model within yourself using NLP techniques.

To make yourself come across as more confident, pay special attention to the words you use.  Review your written communications before releasing them in order to remove any “hedging” words that compromise your perceived status as a thought leader.  When interacting with followers in person, be aware that your body language conveys as much about you as your words do – so be sure they’re in line with the image you wish to portray as well.

With time, practice and attention to detail, you too can achieve “thought leader” status through a combination of activities and NLP techniques that will convey your industry authority to a wide range of followers.

Image: LaBetenoir

How to Cultivate Positive Habits

There’s no doubt that NLP techniques can be used to make you more successful in your professional life.  Whether you want to use these methods to become a more effective salesperson or to simply drive change in your workplace, the use of these tactics in the world of business is well-established.

But what if you’d like to translate these techniques to other aspects of your life?  If NLP can make you more persuasive in your dealings with other people, shouldn’t it also be able to help persuade your subconscious to cultivate positive personal habits?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”  Whether you want to use these tactics to lose weight by eliminating sweets cravings and increasing your motivation to get to the gym, or you need the extra encouragement to make progress on a personal project, the principles of NLP can be easily adapted to drive change in your personal – as well as your professional – life.

Here’s how to do it…


The first technique that can be used to motivate positive change in your personal life is the “anchor.”

Personal Development Planet defines this technique thusly: “An anchor is simply a connection between a stimulus and a certain emotional response.”  In the popular psychology experiment conducted by Pavlov on a group of hungry dogs, the bell that signaled the arrival of food was used as an anchor device that transmitted the state of upcoming satiation to the canine participants.

When used properly in your own life, being able to create and manipulate these anchor associations can provide powerful benefits.  For example, suppose you’re trying to woo a potential partner, but feel awkward and uncomfortable every time you’re around this person.  Now, imagine how much more smoothly your courtship would proceed if you were able to dial up feelings of self-confidence and assuredness on command.

To create anchors, you first need to identify the emotional state you’d like to achieve on command, as well as the signal you’ll use to trigger this state (typically a single word said out loud or a specific hand gesture).  Then, visualize an experience from your past when you felt your desired emotional state strongly while repeating your chosen signal.  Following our dating example, to be able to fire a “confidence” anchor, recall a situation from your past when you felt powerfully confident.

Relive every part of this experience while practicing with your anchor signal.  As the anchor becomes more defined in your mind, you should be able to call it up at will by deploying your physical signal.

Visualization Exercises

The use of these anchors enables you to tie a specific emotion or feeling to a particular hand gesture.  And while this can be incredibly useful in defusing awkward or uncomfortable situations, it’s limited in that each anchor only ties to a single emotion.

Now, imagine you’re sitting face to face with the object of your affection.  At some points in your conversation, you might want to be able to call up your “confidence” anchor – but you might also want to make yourself appear witty, self-deprecating or charming.  And that’s a lot of anchors!

So in order to ensure that your anchors are reserved for the most powerful emotions you want to call up, you’ll want to make use of another NLP technique – visualization – to motivate positive changes in your personal life.

Visualization is an incredibly powerful technique because it gives our minds a template to work off of.  Simply saying, “I wish I wasn’t so awkward” or “I wish I was more motivated” isn’t that helpful, because it doesn’t give our brains a framework for promoting positive change.  Neither one of these negative statements describe alternative behaviors, which leaves our minds frustrated, but unable to produce meaningful change.

Instead, by visualizing how we’d like situations to unfold, we give our brains a blueprint for creating positive actions.  To use visualizations effectively, imagine your desired scenario unfolding from three different angles:

  • From your own perspective, within your own mind,
  • From the perspective of an outsider who’s interacting with you, and
  • From the perspective of a neutral third party.

For example, if you want to have more motivation to go to the gym regularly, start by visualizing yourself coming home from work, changing into your gym clothes and going to get in a good workout.  Then, change your visualization to imagine what someone you interact with at the gym sees in your behavior.  Does this person see a tired, dejected person dragging himself through his workouts, or does he see a fit, energetic person upon which he can model his own behavior?

Finally, imagine the scene as if you’re watching it unfold from above.  How do the people in your visualization behave and interact with each other?  Seeing them modeling the behaviors you’d like to address in your own life makes this tool a powerful way to drive changes to your own personal habits.

Image: ElDave

Dealing with Difficult People Online

If you maintain any type of presence online, you’ve likely encountered at least one difficult person whose behavior you find irritating.  Unfortunately, as much as you might want to lash out and demonstrate just how “wrong” this person is, remember that every little thing you say and do online contributes to your personal brand.

So if you want your personal brand to be perceived as shallow, inflexible and irritating, by all means – go ahead and strike out at the trolls that frustrate you.  However, if you want to be seen as the better person (which is typically much more valuable from a personal branding standpoint), consider the following NLP process for dealing with difficult people online.

Step #1 – Think about how you’ve dealt with this person or a similar situation in the past.

Before reacting immediately to a frustrating situation, pause and reflect on how you’ve handled this type of thing in the past.  The very worst thing you can do is to rush ahead – guns blazing – and say something in the heat of the moment that you’ll later come to regret.

Instead, take a moment to identify your thoughts and feelings about the situation.  What specifically do you find so irritating?  Is it the language that the person used?  The affront to your authority?  Or could it be that, subconsciously, you aren’t 100% confident in your position and that the “difficult” person is only pointing out the weaknesses you’ve been trying to cover up?

Taking the time to identify your own thoughts and feelings in an impartial manner will go a long way towards preventing you from responding to difficult people inappropriately.

Step #2 – Imagine the situation from the difficult person’s point of view.

Certainly there are situations online where people abuse the anonymity provided by the internet to spew the hateful, baseless rhetoric they’d never share in the real world.  In this case, the best approach is simply to block all interactions with the person in order to avoid saying something you shouldn’t.

However, if the difficulty stems from conflicting viewpoints, these situations give you a chance to demonstrate your authority on a subject – but only if you’re able to defend your position on its merits alone.  Lashing out on a personal level will be perceived as shallow and immature, so it’s important to focus your rebuttal on the relative strength of your argument versus your opponents’ statements.

To do this effectively, take some time to fully imagine where your opponent is coming from.  What thoughts, feelings and emotions is he experiencing that could have led to his position?  What circumstances may have led to his particular viewpoint or comments?  Ideally, this exercise should help you to uncover the specific elements on which you disagree, allowing you to begin forming an appropriate response.

Step #3 – View the situation from an outsider’s perspective.

Before making any final decisions on how to move forward to resolve your difficult situations, take a second to imagine what an outsider would think of your position and your opponent’s opinions.  If you encountered this specific situation on another website, what would you say to the two parties involved?  Would your outsider status give you an special insight into how the situation can be resolved effectively?

It can be difficult to think this far outside of your own thoughts and experiences, but being able to assess a situation from an outsider’s point of view is a valuable NLP technique to learn.

Step #4 – Use the NLP agreement frame to move forward.

Hopefully, by this point, you should have a good idea of how to move forward in a way that respects both your position and your opponent’s opinions.  Truthfully, just taking the time to reflect on both parties’ positions before acting is often enough to prevent you from behaving in manner you’ll regret later.

In order to move forward in a way that respects both parties, it’s crucial that you demonstrate you understand where your opponent is coming from – even though you happen to disagree.  One way to do this is with the NLP agreement frame, which is a powerful way to facilitate agreement by eliminating negative words that threaten to derail your point.

For example, when forming your response to your opponent, know that the words, “But” and “I understand” provoke a defensive mindset that prevents resolution from occurring.  Instead, consider using the phrases, “I appreciate,” “I respect” or “I agree.”  Doing so will allow you to assert your key points and opinions in a respectful manner and leave the door open to further discussion that allows both you and your opponent to walk away satisfied.

Have you ever had to deal with difficult people as a result of your online presence?  If so, how well do you feel you handled the situation?  Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments section below.

Image: Sybren A Stuvel

Using Proven Negotiation Tactics to Get Anything You Want

Although most people associate the process of negotiation with used car salesmen and job salary discussions, the truth is that we subconsciously use negotiation tactics in many other areas of our lives.  Whether you’re trying to secure the best table in a restaurant or get a last minute appointment squeezed in with your hairdresser, you’ll find that the principles of NLP negotiation can be used to successfully navigate many different aspects of your life.

Here’s how to use these proven negotiation tactics to get anything you want…

Step #1 – Build rapport with your partner

The more comfortable your negotiation partner feels with you, the more likely it is you’ll wind up reaching a satisfactory conclusion for both parties.  Implement the following tips in order to build this all important rapport with your partner:

  • Make eye contact.  Looking your negotiation partner in the eyes creates a personal connection that puts both of you on the same page.  Try to follow your partner’s lead in terms of how much connection to maintain throughout the negotiation.
  • Match your partner’s body language.  To build rapport naturally, focus on playing up the similarities between you and your partner.  Matching his body language will help put your negotiation partner at ease, making him more receptive to negotiations.
  • Follow your partner’s vocal patterns.  Similarly, matching your partner’s vocal patterns helps to build rapport by eliminating disparate elements that can produce cognitive dissonance and diminish the effectiveness of your negotiations.

Step #2 – Understand the position of both parties

Of course, building rapport by adopting mannerisms that reflect your negotiation partner’s behaviors goes a long way towards making both parties feel comfortable with the process – but simply matching physical signals isn’t going to get the job done.

To make your actual negotiations go as smoothly as possible, it’s essential that you understand the positions and interests of both parties involved in the debate.  Taking the time to uncover these hidden motivations will give you a much stronger negotiation position, making it more likely that you’ll reach a satisfactory conclusion for both parties.

Let’s take the obvious negotiation example of purchasing a used car to see how this process works in real life…

As a buyer, your goal is likely to purchase a car that meets your needs (whether in terms of appearance, safety features, storage capacity or some other criteria) for as little money as possible.  You may also be attempting to secure favorable financing terms, get extra bonuses included with your purchase or meet some other objective based on your unique needs.

Your seller’s goals may be less apparent.  While he’s obviously interested in selling you a car and earning the commission, he may also be concerned about meeting a monthly sales quota or qualifying for additional sales incentives offered by his dealership.  He may have other motivations in place as well, but you won’t know about them unless you take the time to ask pointed questions that help you identify these issues.

Step #3 – Use the NLP Hierarchy of Ideas to reach a conclusion

Once you’ve identified both parties’ starting points, use the NLP Hierarchy of Ideas to “chunk up” or “chunk down” your negotiations so that you’re negotiating on the same conceptual level.  The Hierarchy of Ideas refers to the level of detail involved in the statements being made.  If you and your negotiation partner are working at different levels of the hierarchy, your odds of reaching a successful conclusion are diminished.

For example, if you’re thinking in terms of specific numbers and the sales person is trying to pitch you on the idea of driving away in the car you’ve just fallen in love with, you aren’t operating on the same plane of negotiation.  To gain control of the situation, you’ll need to either match your statements to the seller’s level of detail or steer the salesperson towards your level on the Hierarchy of Ideas.

Step #4 – Use the conditional close to finish the deal

The ideal result of all this “chunking” and delving into your partner’s hidden motivation is that you’ll be able to hit upon a solution that meets both of your needs.  In our car example, you might agree to buy sooner to help your salesperson meet his quota, in exchange for a lower total price or better financing terms.  Finding these hidden opportunities can require some practice, but what’s essential is that you not lose your momentum by failing to close when these situations arise.

If you’ve found a happy medium, but your partner is still balking, consider the conditional close.  The conditional close is an NLP frame in which you transform your partner’s objections into a condition that the sale closes.  Following our car sales example, as soon as you determine that your partner is motivated to close the deal quickly, one potential conditional close example would be, “If I buy today, would you be willing to drop the price another $2,000?”

Obviously, it may take some practice in order to implement all of these techniques into your next negotiation.  However, if you put in the effort to improve your negotiation skills, you’ll be amazed with what you’re able to acquire!

Image: jonny goldstein