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NLP for Association Leaders

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the practice of understanding how people organise their thinking, feeling, language and behaviour to produce the results they do. It's been defined as the “users manual for your mind” because studying NLP gives us insights into how our thinking patterns can affect every aspect of our lives, including in our roles as association leaders. We mark World Mental Health Day with Tasha Thor-Straten, who helps us better understand how NLP can be used for personal development and for our success as association executives.

“When NLP comes together, it really is a study of human communication, and behaviour. The way that I love to describe it is this - that user's manual for the mind. I took time to learn about it, and for me, it was just understanding that it was a really simple set of skills and tools, so that I could communicate with myself better, and how I could also learn to speak somebody else's language, which was really helpful”

One of the main presuppositions is that it’s really about effective communication, both with yourself and with others and it has to start with understanding how communication works.
There needs to be an understanding that what you're doing has an effect on how other people react to you. If you're not getting the response that you want, then you've got to change what you're saying, in order that that person understands. So, the meaning of communication comes from you rather than them.

It’s also so important to remember that there are people out there who have a preference towards being visual people - they will say things like, “I see what you mean”. There are people who have a kinaesthetic preference, so they'll talk about touchy feely things, and they'll touch the body, and they'll breathe differently. Then there's people who have an auditory preference – “I hear where you're coming from”.

Once you know how other people speak, you can speak subconsciously to them, allowing you to build rapport up as well.

In the Association space, which is a mix of human relationships, there is an opportunity for increased self-awareness, better communications, and a sincere understanding of your recipient, whether that be the board member, your new member, or your staff. This is true in all industries and all businesses, whether they are non-profits and associations or not.

So, where does responsibility lie for company well-being?

“It's a bit of a mix, but if you build a work culture where people are able to talk about things then that helps. However, it's also got to be shared from the top, so that everyone can then see that it's okay, and you don't have to leave your identity at the door as you walk in”.

Every organization is made up of people, and if those people don't feel good for whatever reason, then there needs to be a change. It’s up to a company to give their staff the opportunity to do that through building a feeling of trust. Without that environment of trust, you can't get very far.

In the end, it comes down to feeling good. When you feel good about yourself, then everything else shifts – for the better!

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