OK, let’s be clear. I mean people who think becoming an NLP ‘practitioner’ is going to give them an advantage in business, without understanding the depth of the issues at play in so-called Neuro Linguistic Programming, or cognitive behavioural therapy, or any other ‘technique’ designed to ‘alter’ or ‘enhance’ either your own state of mind or confidence levels or the state of mind of those around you.

Behavior Engineering and programming psychology

Behavior Engineering and programming psychology (Photo credit: HikingArtist.com)

I mean those people who have substituted technique for authenticity. Those people who would rather employ something that they read in a book versus the evidence of their own eyes and ears and human ability to interact with others.

Here’s why:

People sense technique. And its off-putting, it smacks of a lack of sincerity. Even when the opposite might be the case, and you are desperately trying to demonstrate your integrity, inexpert handling of some of these ideas comes off as basic manipulation or a snake oil sales style.

Clark Stanley's Snake Oil Liniment. Before 1920.

Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment. Before 1920. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then, they won’t let on. It’s rude to accuse someone else of ‘techniquing’ you. So they won’t mention it. It will just go into the mental card file on you that everyone you meet holds about you. ‘Slightly strange’ or a ‘bit smarmy’ are typical assessments in this scenario.

Every time you think you got away with it. You didn’t. Related to the above. Every time you slip up, or make a mistake or you outright fib, then later get caught out in a fib, its noted. You didn’t blag it. You didn’t talk your way out of it. Your card is marked.

You are not ‘smooth’. You didn’t persuade anyone with your sheer charm and charisma, as much as you like to think you did. Most sales people sell despite themselves. They bought it because they want your product or service more than they want the money it costs.

They need what you sell. So what ever nonsense you’ve been spouting in your sales calls has done nothing to dissuade them from buying from you or your company. Unless you are creating value from a position of no prior value or awareness you are not strictly selling, you are order taking. And therefore you are not successful in your endeavours to sell. It’s more luck than judgment.

You’ll only blow it once. Being fake, or insincere, or worse – attempting to demonstrate that you aren’t those things through some sort of half arsed technique you once read about will only get you one sale. When it falls over, or doesn’t deliver the goods, or fails to reach the intended target market, you wont get another chance.

Most clients are happy to gamble. Once. Not having a deep understanding of your product and therefore not having the ability to deliver a genuine solution to your client will result in a failed relationship. They’ll usually give it a go if it sounds at all reasonable. All entrepreneurs and most business people are risk takers by nature. But they are not stupid. You get one go to show them what you’ve got. Best make it work first time.

Love is all you need. Caring about the client and their problems is far more powerful than demonstrating your empathy through mirroring techniques. If you really really want this to work for them, because you are passionate about your product and passionate about getting results for your client, that will shine through. Don’t let anything get in the way of that passion. Let it out. In all its unfettered glory!

Be Authentic – A-u-t-h-e-n-t-i-c. Be honest. To a fault. In every single interaction with your clients and your prospects. And your colleagues for that matter. Make it your default position. You will never ever go wrong, and never ever need fear catching yourself coming back.

Be yourself. Assuming you are presentable and can string a sentence together in a coherent way, just relax. Please. All people want is a solution to their problems. They don’t want some sort of super slick sales type or alpha account manager who’s super assertive or super anything else.

If your funny be funny. If not, don’t! If your nervous, that’s OK too, its genuine and interesting. I don’t need a friend I need someone who knows what they are talking about and someone I can talk to in confidence.

English: A candid shot of Scruffy McGee on the...

Would you buy a used car from this man? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drop everything else, its superfluous to the equation. I don’t even need to get on with you, if you can offer what I need, or you can demonstrate the value in it.

Be honest at all times, act with integrity, love what you do and what you sell. Want to help people.

Thats all it takes.

What do you think? Can you see the point? Or am I missing a trick maybe? Let me know in the comments below!

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13 replies
  1. alisonlove50
    alisonlove50 says:

    Tony thank you for this. I Know very little bit about NLP (which is always dangerous) but have always felt a bit uneasy about it. Your post helps me to articulate why.

    • Mike Bersin
      Mike Bersin says:

      What a great line!: “substituting technique for authenticity” – an explanation for much of what is wrong with the radio, advertising and every other industry!
      In terms of sales, with NLP what you’re trying to do is MANIPULATE people not help them, and who likes that?

  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    Like most ‘techniques’ NLP is best if viewed as a means of understanding yourself and your own motivations but also understanding and celebrating the differences that make us all unique. Having said that the points above are well made and true. Do a good job and be honest with yourself and your customers and it will all happen. If it doesn’t, move on and learn.

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thank you Eric, great comment and an interesting insight into NLP. I think its generally considered a broadcasting platform if you will, rather than a way of understanding yourself?
      Maybe that’s not fair, but I appreciate the point you’ve made all the same

  3. Angie
    Angie says:

    It’s quite hard to take anybody seriously (The author of this post) when they don’t even know basic grammar and the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ . NLP DOES work if done right and can still be executed ‘with’ authenticity….keywords – ‘done right’.

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Hi Angie
      Sorry my grammar isn’t up to scratch on occasion! I’m an enthusiastic blogger, not a professional 🙂
      And I think I made the very point you make in the opening to the post?
      I’m not talking about genuine practitioners here, rather though people who feel some sort of technique will be more effective for them than authenticity.
      How about you write a post for my readers on what NLP is all about?
      I’d love to read it?
      Forgive typos – sent from mobile device

  4. Ray James
    Ray James says:

    Thank you for the wonderful post about NLP, I know a little bit about NLP and try to get something more but after reading your post I am very confused about it, Please can you let me what should I do? Should I learn NLP or NOT?

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      And thank you for the kind words

      I would say absolutely do! Knowledge is power after all. The better you understand things, the better you will be able to utilise them, and the less chance there is of them being perverted or misunderstood. Thats why philosophers spend so much time endlessly analysing even the simplest seeming ideas! I would advise anyone to learn as much about everything they can!

      But above all, use it to be good, and what ever you learn, stay true to yourself.

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