How To Use NLP To Prepare For Important Discussions
Every business telephone conversation or face to face meeting has a purpose. One party wants something from the other. It could be information, consent, agreement, ideas, permission, action or advice, to name the most common. Sometimes the instigator is clear about their outcome before the conversation and on occasion they are aware of one or more intentions for pursuing the outcome.
Not all outcomes are concrete and some are harder to pin down than others. But regardless of the level of clarity you have before a call or meeting, you can identify an outcome and an intention and prepare your frame first. This will save time and effort in the conversation and provide you with prompts to facilitate the other party’s thinking. You remain free to revise your outcome or your intentions if you learn something that changes the situation, while bringing your own well thought out take to the discussion.
Here is an example:
John and Gerry are management consultants. They live in different cities and work together on projects. John is managing a major project with an important and long standing client which is gearing up for another large project. Gerry has the lead in delivering the service and the client has had excellent results from their work to date. The client has a habit of putting off John and Gerry’s programs, sometimes for months to their own detriment, if allowed to do so.
Gerry has initiated a small project with a new client. The new client wants dates that clash with one of the major client’s programs. Gerry is going to call John to discuss possible alternatives. Gerry’s outcome for calling John is to apprise John of the situation and for them to find a way to service the new client without changing the large client’s dates. Gerry’s intentions are to have John fully informed and committed to whatever plan they produce, have both clients serviced and getting results, keep the large client on track with their committed dates and develop a relationship with the new client.
Gerry worked out his outcomes and intentions before he called John. First he considered his outcome. This is the answer to the question, What do I want from this call to John?
Gerry imagined what it would be like to end the conversation with all his questions answered. He would have a plan created with John. John and Gerry would know everything concerning the present state and future action and they would agree with the decisions they had made., Both clients would be serviced to a high standard. The large client’s dates would be preserved and John would offer the new client a range of dates that worked for them. John would confirm the new dates with Gerry later in the day.
Then Gerry moved to a different location and asked himself, What do I want those outcomes for? What will having them do for me?
Gerry experienced relief from the concern of discovering an unresolved double booking. Both clients being serviced appropriately would be good for those relationships and for business. Gerry’s relationship with John would continue to manifest mutual trust and collaboration. Business and friendship would continue to develop.
Finally, Gerry moved to a third location to consider the likely consequences of his outcomes. When he imagined changing the dates for the large client, immediately they put off the upcoming program for several months and then complained that their results were less than they expected. That was not acceptable.
When Gerry imagined keeping the large client’s dates, they duly attended the program and benefitted clearly and demonstrably. The promised future projects began to firm up. That was the desired consequence, but precluded working for the new client on their chosen dates.
As Gerry imagined the consequences of changing the new client’s dates, they remained unknown. The worst case scenario was losing the new client, but that would be acceptable as a last resort in order to keep the large client progressing. The more likely scenario had the new client accept alternative dates and have a satisfying experience with their program, possibly even ask for more in future.
How to use NLP, the Process
First, pick a location to use as your ‘Outcome’ space.
Consider your outcome. What would you be experiencing if you had what you wanted, as if in the present in real time. Let it develop as you become aware of the detail. Where are you? In what context? What are you doing, seeing, hearing with your outcome recently achieved?
When your outcome is clear and real, take a step back from your outcome and consider your intention. This is the answer to the question, What do I want my outcome for? or What do I want through having my outcome? or If I had my outcome, what would that do for me? Allow the intention to become apparent.
You may not have considered what an outcome could do or enable for you before. The intention is different from a reason. Reasons are the answer to questions starting withWhy’ and answers starting with ‘Because’. If your answer starts with ‘Because’, go back to the question. The answer to intention questions usually starts with ‘To be X’, ‘To experience X’, ‘To have X’ or ‘To do X’.
Your intention is usually more abstract than the outcome
When you are clear with your intention and you have the experience of it as if you were living it in real time, return to the outcome. Then take a step sideways into your future, to a time in the future when you have had the outcome for long enough to have become aware of all the consequences of having it. This could be days, weeks, months or years, depending on what your outcome was. Consequences include costs, benefits and collateral events.
If the consequences of having your outcome are the same as your intention, you have an outcome worth pursuing. If the consequences are unacceptable, you can change your outcome before you start to implement it. Return to the intention and find a different outcome that will lead to it. Then check the consequences of that outcome.
When you use this process to prepare for business meetings and telephone conversations, you can clarify your thoughts in advance so you can frame your requests, questions and proposals concisely and effectively. The process works to develop partly formed ideas, plans, possibilities and imaginings into workable projects where the consequences suit or to drop unworkable ideas before any costs are incurred. Use if freely on your own outcomes and intentions and to guide others through their own outcomes and intentions.
About Outcome Intention and Consequences
This process works by providing a context where you can engage your intuition to gather information and create frames for your outcomes. Each position is placed in a separate location to allow clean association into the outcome, the intention and the consequences, one at a time. As you stand in each of the three positions, as if you were there in real time, your unconscious resources (personal history, knowledge, abilities, experiences) are cued by the context and marshalled to bring appropriate information, memories and patterns to awareness to flesh out the experience and develop the outcome, intention and consequences. That is, each position in the process provides a frame in which to develop your content. Although the consequences are in the future, when the context is provided, you can use your unconscious resources to extrapolate the consequences from the outcome.
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