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NLP Presupposition – The Meaning of Communication is the response you get

One good way of finding out more about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is to study about the presuppositions of NLP. They are the basis of NLP and they give you a good idea of how NLP can help you achieve the goals you want in life.

One of my favourite presupposition of NLP is, “the meaning of communication is the response you get”. Most people have heard about communication being 7% words, 38% tonality and 55% physiology. Few people know that this study by Dr. Albert Mehrabian in 1967 was contested by later studies. In 1970, researches found out, by showing subjects video tapes of people, that non verbal cues (especially body posture) was 4.3 times more effective than verbal communication (compared with Mehrabian’s study of 1.2 times). In a more recent study in 1992, it was found that using a flat tone of voice is a whopping 4 times more influential than watching a recording without sound1.

So, imagine that you are walking in the street at night,  you were busy facebooking and you accidentally dropped your phone. As you bent down to retrieve your phone, you noticed a $10 and a $100 bill on the floor. Which one of the bills would you pick up? Or if you were learning how to bake a very savoury pie from a well known chef and he tells you that there are three ingredients that makes up the great tasting pie, which of the ingredients would you use?

If you watch master communicators at work – be it delivering a speech or when having face to face conversations with people, you will notice that they use all three modes of communication – they choose their words wisely, look fully convinced about what they are saying, at the same time interested in how you feel and use a tone of voice that makes you feel compelled to do what they are suggesting.

In every communication we are trying to influence people. It may be a message, an idea, an advice, an emotion, an instruction or a combination of those. That communication only has meaning if the recipient reacts in a way that we have intended for him to react. Therefore a good way to know if we are “doing” our communication “properly” is by observing the response of the recipient of your message. Our eyes are a physical extension of our brains, one effective way of finding out what a person is thinking is by observing the eye movements (this is taught in detail at our NLP Practitioner’s Training). Other ways include finding out if he has taken an action after you have finished talking to him, looking at his expressions and observing any change in physiology.

So what do we do if you do not get the response that we want? This is when another NLP presupposition comes in handy – “The person or system with the most flexibility will end up controlling the system”. What we need to do now is to either rephrase what we just said, do a demonstration or use a different perspective to prove the point so that the recipient “gets it” – and we know he “got it’ when he “does it”.

Master communicators are not born that way, they are made. Our motto at Anergy NLP is “everything can be learnt and everything can be taught”, if we just practice that master communicators do, we will be able to improve our communication with others dramatically.




1. Wikipedia.org – Albert Mehrabian