au·then·tic (adjective) : not false or copied; genuine; real
I began considering the value of authenticity to a corporate communicator when I started to investigate NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) with an objective of understanding how (if) it might improve my influencing skills.
My fear, which the two day introductory course I attended was unable to allay, is that the ability to flex my approach through an improved understanding of how different people receive and interpret information, will make me a more effective but less authentic communicator and I wonder if that is a trade I really want to make?
The introductory session certainly made me more self-aware: I discovered that my literal-mindedness combined with my tinnitus made me a very poor subject in the group hypnosis session on which much of the afternoon of the first day was based. So, that was a waste of a good portion of Day 1 ……
….or maybe not.
Self awareness lies at the heart of the four principles of NLP (see below) and, at the very least, I’ve realised that my current capacity for self-awareness is more retrospective than real time; i.e. I’m good at understanding why I’ve acted/reacted the way I did, but less good at analysing it as I’m doing it, which severely limits my ability to influence the outcome of that event / interaction.
So, back to my theme of authenticity and the questions arising from the NLP course:
Would heightened, real-time, self-awareness that might lead to a change of approach in order to achieve a desired outcome make me smart, or merely a hypocritical shadow of my former self?
Then there’s the question of rapport – another central tenet of NLP. Initially the idea of building rapport with people I didn’t respect seemed gross hypocrisy. However, on hearing the NLP definition of rapport – “mutual openness and responsiveness” – I realised that a lack of respect for another was most probably caused by a lack of understanding of their “map of the world” and mutual openness and responsiveness is the only way to overcome that barrier.
Having only done the introductory session I don’t know whether NLP will enable me to become more flexible while still remaining true to myself, but I do recognise the truth in the saying: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got” which is the best argument I can think of to suggest a more flexible approach might be required.
The Four Principles of NLP
- First, know what you want. In any situation, have a clear outcome of what you want to achieve
- Be aware and alert. Have sufficient sensory awareness of yourself and others to know when you are moving towards or away from your outcome.
- Have sufficient flexibility to be able to keep changing your behaviour until you get your outcome
- Take action now!
Recommended reading : “Successful NLP for the results you want” by Jeremy Lazarus