As entrepreneurs, we need to be productive leaders, as well as managing stress, and overcoming challenges on a daily basis.Wouldn’t it be great to have a set of tools, techniques and a mindset that helps you to achieve all these things? A brain training technique called NLP has the answer.

What is NLP?

You may have heard of NLP – Neurolinguistic Programming. It’s a complicated name for a set of common-sense skills and ways of thinking that can revolutionise both your life and your business.

For those who like to understand the names of things, ‘neuro’ refers to our nervous system, and the mind-body connection; ‘linguistic’ refers to the language we use (e.g. negative self-talk), and ‘programming’ refers to our internal patterns and strategies. Put all together, it’s how our thoughts affect our feelings and our behaviours – which, in turn, affect the actions we take and the results we get. Basically, it provides tools, techniques and attitudes to get you better results.

It was developed by modelling the best people in their fields and replicating their success. So, some of NLP is just the natural behaviour of people who are really good at what they do – for example, in goal-setting, building relationships or managing stress. For the rest of us, we need to learn, step by step, what comes naturally to them.

NLP has many applications in business, education, health, self-development, marketing, sales – and the rest of life. Whole libraries of information, videos and courses are available on its benefits and how to use it – but space here is short, so I will offer just a taster, with some simple solutions to accelerate your success.

First, it’s great to use NLP for:

Making a compelling goal

Think of your goal – what you want to achieve, be, or do. How do you experience that goal, as you think of it?

Are you detached from it – like seeing it from a distance, or watching yourself like a character on a theatre stage?

Or are you ‘living’ it, in your own body, as if it’s happening around you?

Do you see it? Feel it? Hear it?

Making a goal multi-sensory makes it more compelling. Imagine achieving your goal.

What do you feel? Feeling is meant both internally, emotionally – and externally (temperature, touch, etc.). What do you hear? (Applause, praise, compliments, music). And what do you see? (e.g. smiling faces, happy family, big house, huge workforce, sunny beach-life). Can you even smell or taste that success? Use all your five senses if you can.

Imagining yourself having achieved your goal gives you a taste for that success – if you experience it as if it’s happening now, or has happened, it makes your goal more compelling.

However, don’t sit there, smugly believing that since you’ve experienced it, you’ve achieved it! Zoom out and see yourself as a figure on a stage, being successful, to give your brain the message that you still have to take action and do something to get there!

Building rapport

whether with clients, staff or in relationships, creating rapport and quickly and effectively developing bonds will enable you to be more effective in business and in life. We like people who are like us. Observing and mirroring other people’s body language – like posture, eye contact, and even their breathing rate – helps people to be receptive to you and do business with you.

Match them in other ways. If they are slow talkers, slow down your own speech. If they speak rapidly, speed up.

Notice the kind of language they use. We like people who speak the same language as us – especially in terms of the senses. So, use this to build relationships. Most people have a preference for one of the following ‘languages’ – Visual, Auditory (hearing), Kinaesthetic (feeling or moving) or Auditory-Digital (technical or conceptual/’mental idea’ language or self-talk).

Notice the words they use and how they phrase things. Is their language visual? (Using words like look, see, light, bright, picture, image, focus, vision). Is it auditory (hearing) – e.g. listen, hear, ring a bell, sounds good. Or is it ‘feeling’ or physical words like touch, taste, move, love, kick ideas around, heavy, hot, cold, run a few thoughts past you… Or is it auditory-digital – using words like policy, process, idea, or technical language appropriate to your field.

Speak the same language. Aim for ultimate flexibility, so you can talk to anyone in their own language, regardless of your own preference.

Managing stress

Notice what you’re telling yourself. (Or use this to help your managers or staff). Are you going over and over things, using negative self-talk? Are you telling yourself things like ‘I’ve got the world on my shoulders, I’m under pressure, I’ll never get out of this, everything’s going wrong…’ If so, can you see how you are keeping yourself locked into the problem? Stop that at once, and start looking for solutions. Tell yourself more positive things – ‘There is a way. I’ve survived in the past, and I will thrive now.’

Challenge your generalisations and negative thinking – ‘EVERYthing is going wrong? – That’s not true, for a start…’ Turn around every negative thought into a more positive one, and let that be your motivation to focus on positive outcomes.

If the self-critical voice in your head is oppressive, imagine yourself turning the volume down, or imagine that the words are being spoken in a ridiculous, comical voice like someone sucking helium out of a balloon, then talking in a squeaky voice. You’ll never be able to take that seriously!

There’s so much more to learn. If you’re interested in NLP for entrepreneurs, you can get a coach, do some training, read some books, and practise – using your preferences and all your senses!

Ryan Jackson, a serial entrepreneur and success coach who runs multiple businesses in the UK and abroad. Ryan is passionate about inspiring others to become the best versions of themselves through personal development. www.ryanjackson.org