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I can’t do that now

The NLP wave rises and falls and, frankly, I’ve lost track of whether it is near a popularity peak or a sceptical slump.  Of all the ideas that managers use, this is the one that comes in and out of vogue most often – on a two or three year cycle, it seems to me.

Why does NLP peak and trough so much?

Many practitioners do NLP no great service in making some extravagant claims for what it can achieve, whilst others doggedly push away at the very real benefits of improved communication, processes and insights that an understanding of its models can offer us.  The world becomes exhausted by and cynical of the excessive zeal of some trainers, then recovers, as other trainers help build a new cohort of learners who can see real benefits.

Gillian Burn’s NLP Pocketbook is a contribution to ‘real benefits’ end of the spectrum, and has a nice take on one of the most powerful NLP models.

Logical Levels of Change

This model has many uses, so let’s pick one: let’s say that you ask someone to do something.  Let’s further assume that your request is reasonable, and that your relationship with them is good, so you have every reason to expect them to comply.  So it comes as a surprise when they say:

‘I can’t do that now.’

Handling Resistance

This sounds like resistance, so rule number one is to respect the resister and assume that their reason for resisting is a good one.  But what is it.  On the face of things, their statement gives you no clues; but if you listened very carefully, they probably told you exactly where the problem is.

Listen Carefully

What you are listening for is where they put the emphasis of their statement.  It may be very subtle, but can be remarkably obvious.  They may have said any of these statements:

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘there is a problem with the time or place.’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I have a problem with what you want me to do’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I don’t have the ability to do it’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I don’t believe I can do it’

I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘this is not something I can do’

Once you know where the problem lies, you can tackle it more confidently.

What else?

Could there be another reason?  What if there appears to be no emphasis.  The Logical Levels model suggests a sixth possible level, deeper than the five we have seen.  If we characterise these five as:

Environment – Action – Capability – Belief – Identity

… the sixth level is Purpose, or meaning.

People need a Purpose

We all need a meaning to our lives and a purpose for doing something.  In their mind, they are possibly asking ‘why?’ If you are unable to supply a good reason, then you should not be surprised to encounter resistance.  One of the powerful words we looked at in an earlier blog is because.’

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The NLP Pocketbook

The NLP Pocketbook
is full of easy to follow descriptions and examples from the best tools that NLP has to offer.

NLP, by the way, stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming

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There is also a chapter on the NLP model of communication in:

You might also like:

So here’s the deal

Listen carefully when people resist you, act on the information you gather: not your assumptions, consider the powerful tools NLP can offer you.

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If it sounds too good to be true …

The old saying goes: ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.  But there is another possibility: ‘if it sounds to good to be true, then you haven’t done your homework’.

Catching out the best negotiators

Sometimes in negotiations, you will be caught off guard by an unanticipated comment, statement or offer.  There is very little that is more disconcerting than an offer that is better than you were expecting.  This is because even the best negotiators rarely prepare for this scenario.

The cautious response is to ask yourself: ‘where’s the catch?’ and proceed delicately.  But there may be no catch; the offer may be genuine.  So whatever you do, don’t risk giving offence by challenging the offer.  Unfortunately, when we get caught out, we often respond in an unguarded manner.

What else could be going on?

If there is no catch, then there are two further possibilities:

  1. the offer is a fair one
  2. they know something you don’t and the value is higher than you thought

What should you do?

Obviously, the lesson from this example is to prepare for even this scenario.  As Patrick Forsyth says in The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, ‘successful negotiators do their homework’.

But if you are unprepared, then you certainly don’t want to just jump on the offer.  So, do what you would do with any offer: make a counter offer, by asking for a little more.  What you do not want to do is quickly accept the offer and leave the other person wondering if they have over bid.  If they do that, it can lead to buyer’s remorse – a sense of disappointment with the deal that they have struck, which can lead to them later reneging on the deal or not doing further business with you.  Worse still, you don’t want to accept a great offer that you could have improved still further.

If you sense the offer is a fair one – just a little better than you had anticipated, then your counter offer can be a little higher.  If, on the other hand, you think they know something more about the value than you do, either go considerably higher or, if you can, take a time out to do some more research.

So here’s the deal

There is no substitute for being prepared before you go into a negotiation: both in command of the facts, and mentally prepared to deal with the unexpected.

What are your tips for negotiating, from your own experiences.  Let us and our readers know, by contributing your own comment.

The Negotiator’s Pocketbook

In The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, Patrick Forsyth sets out a seven step process for your negotiation preparation.  This Pocketbook really is full of fabulous insights and tips.

The Handling Resistance Pocketbook

Okay, so we’ve not been talking about resistance but in the forthcoming Handling Resistance Pocketbook (due in the autumn), you’ll learn a great process, called ‘SCOPE the resistance’ to deal with the kind of surprise this blog talks about.

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Read the Handling Resistance Blog at www.handlingresistance.com

Other Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

The Influencing Pocketbook

The NLP Pocketbook

The Salesperson’s Pocketbook

The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

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