DisneyAs a leadership coach working with executives globally, I often help my clients to work through communication issues with employees. The conversation normally centers on a lack of understanding about a certain employee behavior or outcome. While it is human nature to have a one-sided perspective, it can be difficult to step out of our own realities to see another side of the communication dialogue.

This is where the practice of Neuro-Linguistic Programming can be very helpful for a leader. As noted above, NLP is based on several presuppositions – or assumptions about a situation. When my clients are faced with a communication misunderstanding, I take them through the following exercise based on these assumptions to help gain the needed clarity.

The exercise centers around six of the above assumptions and a central context space.

  1. Behind every behavior is a positive intention
  2. Present behavior is the best possible choice
  3. There is no such thing as the word failure, just feedback
  4. If it is possible in the world, it is possible for me
  5. Energy flows where attention goes
  6. The map is not the territory, we all have our own reality

The exercise is designed with each of the six assumptions, which would be chosen by the client, in a circle around the central context space. The client is asked to stand in the context space first and access the situation they are experiencing challenges with. They consider the context in which it occurred to create an anchor as they move through the remainder of the exercise.

The client is then asked to step into one of the six assumption spaces. Once they are centered within that space, they should access the anchoring idea (ie – behind every behavior is a positive intention). Once they have accessed the idea, they should take some time to consider themselves disassociated from the problem context and take a moment to run it through the filters of the central idea.

Once the client has fully accessed the assumption, they should step out of that space and return to the context space. Upon their return, they should add what they learned about the problem based on the NLP assumption they just stepped out of. The exercise should continue until the participant has moved through all six assumptions, adding this information to what they know about the problem.

I have had the distinct pleasure of working clients through the NLP assumptions in an effort to gain clarity in an organizational issue or build rapport with employees. These sessions have delivered powerful moments as the client has seen an issue in a new light and has discovered a pathway for a breakthrough in their coaching methods. Understanding the NLP assumptions and working through issues using coaching practices, such as this exercise offer leaders access to a whole new level of communication with subordinates and enables them to develop into a more empathic emotionally intelligent leader.

Would you like more information on using NLP assumptions or other powerful NLP coaching techniques within your organization? At the Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLP, we offer ICF accredited NLP Coach Training Programs, Personalized Custom Designed Coach Training Programs for managers and leaders within corporations and coaching retreats for executives. ALCN helps leaders develop their coaching toolkit and create a coaching culture within their organization. Please feel free to contact us for more information!

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