Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Communication Skills part 1

Upon looking deciding the skills that made up the perfect manager, communications came to mind almost instantly. So I decided to start investigating all the different realms of communications skills available. I started with the obvious body language skills, which led into language patterns due there being a book by the same author. Whilst viewing the book shelves at Waterstones I came across a book on NLP, which seemed to cover both body language and language patterns. Also more complex language patterns such as embedded language, hypnotic language. Plus it covered off some management techniques and psychology as well.

So here is my list of communications skills

Body language

- Body posture

- Facial expressions

- Eye accessing clues

Language patterns

- Embedded language

- hypnotic language

- Precision language

- Milton model

- Meta model

- Sleight of Mouth

- Military language patterns

- Vak, Visual, Audio and Kinesthetic

- Filters

- Metaphors

- Anchoring

Influencing techniques

- Psychology

- 6 laws of Influence

In face to face communications 80% of communication is non-verbal, I am sure you will have heard this before. Not sure I agree with this statement. Once you start to understand the complexities of language patterns there is much more going on than you realise. It’s not about what is said, but more about how it is said and what isn’t actually said. Not saying Body language isn’t important, it adds to the overall meta-message and came show up any incongruence in the message being delivered verbally.

Next steps of blog to cover of individual parts of the communication skills I have listed above.

Laws influence

Going to write a little bit on the 6 laws of influence and show some recent examples I have seen. Plus hope I can show the linkage into NLP as well.

A very famous book written by Robert Cialdini called "Influence: Science and Practice".
In this book he discusses study of various influence techniques used in sales and expands on them to the wider world.

He managed to break this down into 6 laws and influence.

1. Reciprocation
2. Commitment and Consistency
3. Social proof
4. Liking
5. Authority
6. Scarcity

Lets look at reciprocation. Very simply if someone does something for you you tend to feel obliged to return the favor. For example I buy you a drink you may feel you need to buy me a drink to restore the balance. Sales men try this one regularly

"You sign up today and I will give you £30 worth of gift vouchers". This is the power of reciprocation, the first law. They are trying to make you view the world as I give you £30 and in return as a favor you just need to sign the deal etc. The truth is always you are doing them the favor, don't let them forget that when they are trying to sell you something.

You could always try reverse reciprocation next time you have a door to door salesman.

"Let me do you a favor, I am 100% not interested and I would only be wasting your time. Now would you do me the favor in return by not giving me the hard sell and moving on".

They will probably still want to carry on, but according to the rules of reciprocation and consistency they must allow you to sell them something back. This will obviously disrupt their sales patter, which will most like be based on the 6 laws and some NLP. However, it will be scripted and any deviation off the script will throw their plans into chaos as it is unlikely they actually understand their sales scripts true workings and won't be able to improvise. If you haven't anything to sell then just start asking about their personal life or finances. Why not they are probably asking about yours in order to sell their product?

I will cover off each of the laws in following blogs.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Using NLP

Since doing the communications course at work I have been putting in
to practice more NLP than before.
Decided to review my NLP notes every morning to remind myself and
revise the subject before I start work. It has been working well as I
have started to profile people in meetings i.e. big chunk, mismatch,
options, visual. So I have worked out their filters and their
communication's styles for the future which will help me build rapport
with them on a on going basis. I have noticed with the people I work
with in a technical area it can be hard to always pick up on the clues
as they are always very factual and the information is very well
rehearsed so you don't get to see the eye accessing clues immediately.

I never mentioned on my CV or in interview that I have studied NLP and
using to influence and persuaded people. Management jobs often ask for
someone with good influence and persuasion skills. I think I have
mentioned it as I was worried what impression it may give or they may
find it geeky. Decided to change that have listed it on my CV and will
talk about it in interviews as well. I think it will show myself to
extremely strong persuasion skills as I know have studied it and can
show examples of how it works. I can use the NLP as a selling point,
part of my personal brand.

NLP blog why?

Most the sites on the internet are for businesses selling consultancy or over priced training course. I have written this blog based on my experiences and the studying I have carried out on the subject of management. My angle of management is one of an engineer owing to the fact it was my job leading into management. Some years ago and decided to take the engineering approach to the problem. If for example I had a technical problem or a new technology to learn as an engineer I would study books, go on the courses, practice and implement the knowledge to resolve my current issue. So I did the same for management, I decided what I would need to learn to be a good manager and researched, studied the books, did the course and practice at work. Firstly, I had to decided what skills a good manager would have.

1) Communication skills

2) Business strategy

3) Management skills – Admin, organisation, time management, presentation skills, coaching/mentoring, finance.

4) Politics – Like it or not politics are a huge part of modern day working. Best to have the knowledge and skills to at least prevent yourself falling foul of other people politics and dirty tricks.

Starting with communication skills and studied a number of different areas which mostly came under the banner of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).NLP covered body language, language patterns, hypnosis, embedded language, behaviour modelling, sensory patterns and other areas more closely linked to personal therapy. I also studied areas on Influence and persuasion, which is more to do with the psychology of human nature. This covers the 7 laws of influence and how they can be used.

Next, I studied Strategy in its many forms, but mostly it boiled down to military strategy that in recent years has been adapted for other areas such career, sales, marketing and business. I studied some of the most famous classical books of strategy such “Art of War”, by Sun Tzu. From here I read the books the Art of War is based on, “Master of the Demon valley” & “Master of the empty store house”. Also the “The book of Five Rings” By Miyamoto. These books led me on to read some modern interpretations and niche strategy books such as the Art of Career (based on the Art of War). The Art of the Advantage, Seven Strategic principles for managers and 7 gold keys to success. All these books had common themes that helped me focus my attention at work, helped me work more efficiently and plan out a career strategy. Plus bring strategic principles into the work I have done in the team I led.

I realised I need to have a greater grasp of the skills of my trade in management so I used the companies training schemes and resource libraries to study and train up on these keys areas. Coach and mentoring courses to help me develop the best from the team. This combined with my new communications skills and strategic understanding helped me get the best out of the team. Admin organisation, holidays, team meetings, sick leave, development plans, paper work etc. You must be able to perform this task efficiently as they are the main aspects and reasons you are employed. Learn to do them efficiently as it’s you core foundation, which you can build on with communication skills, politic and strategy.

Politics. I came to this area much later than the others, but I know realise it’s the missing key to linking into the other areas already discussed. Studied “The prince” and “Discourses” by Niccolo Machiavelli. Also read a number of office politics books that discuss modern day tricks and stratagems in office politics. As you probably guessed there is a strong link between politics and strategy. In strategy we talk about the environment, in war this will be the hills, mountains, lake, river that effect create the rules of engagement etc. In work it would be the culture of the company, it’s history and office politics as rising from it.

From all these areas I hope to make Grand Unified Theory of management/career progression. Many of the topics began to interlink creating a pattern of think and ideas. I will write this up as it happens during the course of constructing this blog.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


My weight hasn't changed since last post. Only managed to go walking a
couple of times last week. I have decided to step up the walking to
double the distance so I can get the same mileage each week in case I
don't get chance to take a lunch break and walk.

Went on a communication course last week, it was heavy NLP influenced.
It was very good to hear it from a person rather than read from a
book. We also did a number of practical exercise that helped cement
the learning. I also received some feedback from the group on my
communication style that was very interesting. I was perceived as a
nice guy, some one who would like to have a drink with!!. Not bad I
suppose. I have been using NLP a lot more since the course, it has
cleared up a few mis-understandings and re-ignited my passion for the
subject. I am going to try and spend half and hour a day revising NLP
subject as to keep it in the forefront of my mind. I hope this will
help encourage me to use it more.