The Value in New Year Resolutions

The Value in New Year Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again. The time when we re-evaluate our life plan, make some minor (or not so minor) adjustments and set a new direction for ourselves. We call this setting “New Year resolutions”.

Of course, the joke is that we set these resolutions with great enthusiasm but by the end of January most of them have fallen by the wayside. So what is the key to making lasting change?

It’s all a question of value. Students of NLP (neuro-liguistic programming) are introduced to one of the great communication models – Logical Levels, as devised by Robert Dilts. I remember being introduced to this model and believing I had been given a major insight into the secrets of the universe – or at least our part in it.

It will probably come as no surprise to learn that our behaviour is driven by our beliefs and values. What Dilts’ model shows us is how this happens. As New Year resolutions are about implementing personal change, and by change we mean changing our behaviour, then it makes sense that we have to believe in this change and see value in it, for it to be maintained. We also have to believe that it is realistic and achievable. Lastly, it has to fit with our sense of identity. Putting these together, the best resolutions for change need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • be linked to our personal values
  • be consistent with the beliefs that come from these values
  • generate clear, realistic and achievable actions (behaviours)

In addition, your resolutions will be more likely to succeed if they are consistent with your personal sense of identity. This is why coaches suggest you state your resolution at an identity level, rather than a behaviour level. Here’s an example around one of the more popular resolutions at this time of year – losing weight;

  1. State the resolution as an identity; “I want to be slim” rather than “I want to lose weight”.
  2. Make sure it is linked to at least one of your personal values; “health” or “fitness” etc.
  3. Now, define the steps you need to take to achieve this by setting some (SMART) goals. Focus on realistic and achievable in particular.
  4. Now, write an action plan to deliver your goals.

If steps 1-5 above seem like too much hard work, then don’t waste your time by going any further with this resolution, as you clearly either don’t believe or value it

If one of your New Year Resolutions is to “be a more influential communicator” then why not follow this blog and learn how to do this for free?

Selling ideas to Dragons

Selling ideas to Dragons

The latest 5 point guide from Dragon’s Den to succeeding in getting a product to market was presented on BBC last night. Here’s what they say, with a few thoughts of my own added in.

1. Keep your ideas coming

Put simply, the more you ideas come up with, the more chances you have to succeed. Basically, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Alternatively, if you are not prolific, it helps to be creative.

In the programme, the example given was Mark Chapkins; the stereotypical mad inventor. Mark presented lots of ideas at his Dragon’s Den pitch. Only Peter Jones was interested and with his help Mark has now achieved a turnover of £250 in 3 years. He now writes books on celebrity inventors and is employed by the Science Museum “inventor in residence”.

Of course, to  have a “good” idea, you need to be able to identify s problem and come up with the steps to solve it. See point 5 below.

2. Don’t forget to dream

Be optimistic. Brainstorm all of the positives about your idea before you pull it apart. A good technique to do this is to use  “second position” to see how realistic your idea is. That is, look at it from the perspective of end users or potential investors.

3. Do the paperwork

Protect your idea. Register the patent, if possible, but remember “patent pending” is not yet a patent. Can you get copyright on your idea? Deborah Meaden is particularly keen on this, and has pulled apart many a good idea because the paperwork is not right. Next week they are looking at Business Planning, so more on this topic then.

4. Think outside the box

Frame the problem you are trying to solve in a different way to come up with a unique way to solve it. Again, use “second person” perspective to aid this. The programme gave the example of “mad inventor”  Rupert Sweet-Escott. He invented a wind turbine chimney pot. This has proved successful in Japan, achieving £270K turnover.

However, Duncan Bannatyne disagrees – he prefers a more pragmatic, realistic approach saying  improving on an existing idea is a safer option for those not gifted with original thinking. The example given was the Magic Whiteboard Series, which improved on flip charts as a portable self adhesive alternative, achieving  £2M turnover in last 3 years.

5. Be your own worst critic

Your product needs to solve a problem (this is the opportunity) worth solving (this converts it to a need) See my FREE e-book for more information.

Your idea needs to work and there needs to be  a market for it.  Bad examples presented to the Dragons included; edible greetings cards for dogs, anti-wrinkle cap, and Derek Cousins Flow Signals – traffic signal safety light. Each of these were either difficult concepts to understand, and were not taken up by the Dragons. The Flow Signals were described as  “the worst invention to be brought to Dragon’s Den”.

So, there we have it a 5 point plan to get your ideas to product and to market.

The best example of meeting all of the above criteria (missed by the Dragons) was Tangle Teeze (to fix Tangled, Knotted , Hair). Poor presentation ( especially the demonstration) combined with a lack of market research scared the Dragons off. . The inventor took their advice and was approached by many distributors following the programme. The product has now sold over 1.6 M items, wirth £2.3M turnover with international sales. Now that is success to be modelled.

The Psychology behind Pitching to Dragons

The Psychology behind Pitching to Dragons

This week the BBC aired an insider’s guide to successful pitching on Dragon’s Den. They came up with a six point plan for success. Here’s the psychology behind each of the points;

  1. Create an impression. It has been shown that we make a judgement within 30 seconds of meeting someone for the first time. So we have to get it right. We need to grab their attention, and our dress, poise, and confidence rather than gimmicks are needed to create the right impression.
  2. Practice makes Perfect. There is no substitute for practice, and the more you can simulate the environment you will present in the better prepared you will be.  Practice prepares the subconscious mind for what to do, as well as the conscious. This is crucial for “programming success”, a crucial NLP technique.
  3. Keep your nerve. When teaching presentation skills, I always emphasise that the audience will not know you have made a mistake unless you let on. If things don’t go as planned, so long as you are prepared (see point 2), you can adapt what is going on into your presentation.
  4. Don’t offend your audience. Obvious really, but it is easy to react to a challenge from the audience. Remember the first rule of good customer service – the customer is always right (even when they are wrong)! Acknowledge what the audience has said, but don’t disagree. After all they have a right to their point of view even if you don’t agree with it. Lose the battle, win the war.
  5. Be Passionate. Remember Mehrabian. People look to our body language and tone of voice to determine whether to believe us or not. It may not come naturally to us, but if we can’t get passionate about our message, product or service, why should our audience?
  6. Be honest and credible. See point 5 regarding body language, but this is also about not making claims you can’t back up. It also takes us back to point 2 – practice. Good preparation means anticipating what your audience will want to know and how to give it to them.

So, there it is! All you have to do to be successful with your pitch. On the programme Kirsty Henshaw was identified as having give na master class pitch.

This first clip (about 3 minutes in) shows Kirsty’s pitch.

The next clip shows how Kirsty used the Q&A to get  positive outcome

Thriving with Change

Thriving with Change

It’s an old cliché, but let’s face it the only thing that’s constant is change. This is particularly true at the present time, with economic uncertainty leading many of us to consider career changes, though not always through choice.

So how can we best cope with change?

It is my philosophy that it is possible to not only survive but to actually thrive with change. It’s all a question  of approach.

In this article, I will introduce a concept from NLP that facilitates this. In fact it is one of the core concepts from NLP, namely, setting well-formed outcomes. This is a technique that has applications beyond managing change. It can be used for any future planning. It is also a useful check for letting us know when we are not achieving what we would like to – it may be a sign that one of the well-formedness conditions is not being met.

So how do we set well-formed outcomes? All you have to do is answer the following questions. You can do this on your own (self coaching) but it can be helpful to have someone else guide you through the process. Any good coach will be able to help you set good well formed outcomes for your career or, indeed, your life.

Here’s how;

  1. State what you want in the positive, i.e. “what do you want” (rather than stating what you don’t
  2. Convert a good objective (see 1 above) into an  outcome by answering “How will you know you’ve got it?”
  3.  Use the full range of sensory language (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) to ensure you are clear about your desired future.
  4. “Can it be started and maintained by you?” This is crucial, as we are all limited by what we can directly change, or our ability to influence those who can. When we are experiencing rather than leading change, it is often this lack of control that leads us to feel unhappy. Within the context of the change, focus on what is within your control. Do your own personal SWAT analysis, and focus on your personal strengths and minimise your weaknesses.
  5. Give your outcome an appropriate context;
      • “Where, when and with whom do you want it?
  6. Maintain the current positive by products. This is the one part that is crucial to, and most often missed out, when organisations and individuals initiate change; find out what is liked, by you and others, about the current way of doing things, and make sure that where possible you take them with you into the changed future.
  7. Do an Ecology check; Is it worth it in terms of:
      • Cost to you?
      • The time it will take?
      • Your sense of self (personal identity)?

Setting well-formed outcomes is crucial to not only surviving but thriving with change. Follow these steps to ensure you can turn even the most challenging situation to your advantage.

If you want to learn more about NLP, I recommend the following book “The NLP Coach” by my teacher, Ian
(with Wendy Jago).

You can learn more about this strategy and others at our upcoming workshop “A Change for the Better”.

What the British Airways dispute teaches us about negotiation

I know this is last week’s news, but I’ve been reflecting on the resolution of the BA dispute and what it teaches us about negotiation. Here is a summary of the dispute from  BBC News.

This is a dispute that had been going on for the last couple of years. At times it got very antagonistic. It is also a classic example of what happens when you negotiate from positions. Effectively, both sides drew lines in the sand that they were not prepared to cross (“this is our position”). Unfortunately there was a significant gap between the two parties, so no progress could be made. Worse than this, having stated their positions, it became increasingly difficult to move from that position without losing face. So it became a battle of egos as much as principles. How do we get out of such a predicament?

The eventual successful resolution of the dispute hinged on a copule of key decisons. Firstly, the principle public figues in the dispute were removed from the discussions. This from the BBC News report:

Former British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh, who became the focus of the anger of many union members during the dispute, moved into a new position earlier this year. He is now head of the company formed by the merger of BA and the Spanish carrier Iberia, International Airlines Group, and was succeeded by Mr Williams. At Unite, Mr McCluskey succeeded former joint general secretaries Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson. Len McCluskey praised Mr Williams for being “strong, brave and courageous” in reaching the agreement.”

Once the principle antagonists (and their egos) were replaced, there was an opportunity to start again. The above quote relfects 2 other changes that followed. Firstly, the negotiation style changed from Competitive (I win, You lose) to Collaborative (I win, You win). Secondly, this facilitated a change in strategy – negotiate from interests rather than from positions. This approach is about understanding the issue from the other person’s perspective (called second position in NLP) as well as your own. The result? Compromise and an outcome that both sides can live with. Research has shown that the collaborative approach is more likely to produce sustainable results and keeps a positive relationship between the 2 parties intact.

So, when you are planning your next negotiation try usind a combination of a collaborative approach and negotiate on interests rather than positions.

Semantic links, NLP and embedded commands

We are all familiar with semantic links. They are words in electronic media which are highlighted, often in a different colour to the main text. When you move your cursor over the word, it is revealed to be a hyperlink (a link that takes you to another web page) with more information the author wants you to read. Sometimes the sentence that the semantic link appears in is a pretext to get you to click on the link. This can be to link you to adverts or web pages, but it is also the trick used to infect your pc with trojans or viruses. You recognise the set up – a screen pops up looking like Windows Defender with scary threats that your PC is infected. You are then encouraged to activate an antivirus package, possibly one you believe you already have or one you have to purchase. The problem is that once you do this, you allow the trojan access to your pc where it can wreak havoc.  

What you may not be so familiar is that there is a linguistic (the L in NLP) trick that is used in influential communication to get people to do what you want them to. This is at the heart of the work of stage performers such as Derren Brown or Paul McKenna. In NLP it is called an embedded command. Here is how it works; the command is hidden or embedded in a longer sentence.

For instance:

“You may or may not decide to sign up to my blog site

In this example, the embedded command is written in italics. The conscious mind hears the full sentence, but the subconscious mind replays the words and can be inclined to hear the embedded command. This is particularly true if you like the speaker (another of Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion) and want to please them. This is a key basis of hypnosis.  Notice, all of this is happening at a sub-conscious level.  

Embedded commands are even more effective when they use ambiguous language, such as in the following example:

“You, like me, are probably a very reasonable person.

The embedded command is, again, in italics. The subconscious mind ignores the grammar and looks at the various possible meanings of the sentence. One interpretation, possibly the desired one, tells your subconscious mind that you like me. So you do.

The learning here is that by building up a stock of choice embedded commands you can develop as a more influential communicator. In this way you are more likely to get the outcomes you deserve.

You are probably now aware of the embedded commands you already use.

Share some of your examples below.