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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Language to improve Rapport

Unlike the language used to improve understanding by undistorting, ungeneralising and undeleting, as discussed in a previous post, there's also 'softer' language patterns that supports rapport and reduces the barriers others can put up when we're communicating with them. It's not often used in business and does have to be used carefully and may not work in certain cultures. For example recent trips to Denmark have highlighted my need to avoid this sort of 'woolly' language when dealing with clients there.

However it can be very useful especially for those perhaps more likely to reply with "Don't tell me what to do" to statements of intent such as:
  • We must go with supplier X
  • Listen to what David has to say
  • Make these amendments
Use of Miltonian language can help keep the barriers down and keep the option to agree open. So what about trying:
  • I think the solution is to go with supplier X.
  • I wonder what difference listening to David will have
  • Can you just make these amendments
These simple additions just give the other person more choice about how they think and act and may therefore ensure they keep listening to what you're saying. Which of course will increase the likelihood of mutual understanding and potential agreement.

Next time you're asking someone to do something why not simply add in "Just" "I think" or "I wonder" and notice what you notice.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Sowing the seeds for effective communication with stakeholders

PS: One other Miltonian pattern that I find very very useful is if someone is stuck is saying:
  • you may find the solution whilst you go for lunch or
  • you may find the solution today or later this week
Either way you're presupposing they find the solution and their mind will do its best to support that.

This post is part of a series introducing some NLP tools and techniques that can significantly improve your stakeholder engagement, communication and team working.

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