'Gimme time to think!'
Have you ever been in this situation? You're chatting with somebody who is very talkative and energetic - so much so that if you even pause for breath they jump in with their own views or comments!
Even maintaining your train of thought can be difficult - they're talking so much it's scrambling your brain. So that even if you could get a word in you'd have forgotten what you wanted to say.
In situations like this many people adopt a "what's the point!” attitude and simply give up and let the enthusiastic talker get on with it
When to talk less
Now, on the off-chance that some of us, on very rare occasions, could be guilty of talking too much or too enthusiastically, this article is about how to improve your communication by talking less!
Talking less can be a bit of a stretch for some of us – because once the mouth gets up to speed it’s difficult to stop.
The famous NLP Eye Accessing cues/clues (explored on our NLP Core Skills course) enable us to recognise when somebody may be thinking in images or sounds or feelings or through sub-vocalising. This is very valuable as a means of understanding them and improving how you communicate with them.
But… one of the most important applications of this model is rarely remarked upon i.e. when their eyes are moving you remain silent…
Let’s do that again for emphasis:
While the other person's eyes are moving you remain quiet and allow them to think.
And, whether you like it or not, if their eyes are moving they are thinking - not truly listening to you.
Why not just do it the old way?
Eye movements indicate that a person is thinking - they are processing information - they are likely to be going through their images, sounds, feelings, and having silent inner conversations. If you talk over this and don’t give them thinking space you interrupt their processing and...
...you significantly decrease the quality of our interaction with them - which means that one or other or both of you may not get what you want from this particular meeting.
Ignoring these signals to be silent can frustrate them – especially if the subject is complex or of importance since you do not allow them to think it through to the degree or to the length that is right for them.
Ignoring the signals also demonstrates that you intend to impose on them your pace of thinking and speaking – rather than respecting their needs. (This is especially the case if you do a lot of your thinking in images and they do lots of theirs in feelings - it takes considerably longer to "check out one's feelings" than to scan one's images!
Thinking in feelings
Many people think in feelings i.e. they do a lot of their thinking with their emotions or 'kinaesthetics'. While thinking in this way they can come across as "slow" because, compared with someone who processes visually, they are slower; they like to think more thoroughly and carefully.
For example let's say Martina is an adult who does a lot of her thinking kinaesthetically. Martina likes to consider things thoroughly and to check out how she feels about things and to choose her words carefully because she wants to be able to express the subtle nuances of feelings which she has the ability to experience.
Now, since most educational systems favour Visual and Auditory Digital (logical, factual) thinking, it's likely that at school Martina will not have had an easy time:
It's likely that her teachers would have been impatient with her thoughtful responses to their rapid-fire questions.
Fellow pupils will have laughed at her "slowness"
In arguments she will only have come up with things she would like to have said minutes or hours after the argument is over and has been "won" by the quicker thinking visual/auditory specialists.
Eyes Moving = Remain silent!
As with any new habit it's best to introduce "giving people thinking time" a little at a time - attempting to do it in every interaction from now on would likely interfere with your normal competence.
For the next few weeks select just one conversation a day and for the first couple of minutes of this conversation observe their eye accessing movements.
When you see their eyes moving wait, however difficult it may be!
And only speak when they again look at you - connect with you.
And, if at times, your enthusiasm or your impatience gets the better of you and you do cut across their thinking apologise for this. This is not just a courtesy it also subtly demonstrates that you are, indeed, paying attention to their non-verbal as well as to their verbal communication.
Finally, if you don't spend a lot of your daily time interacting with people look for opportunities when you are out and about to talk to people so that you can “wire in” this NLP skill. Just a minute or two once or twice a day will make a significant difference.
You'll find more articles on the NLP Representational Systems here:
NLP, eyes and lying – Q&A – published Summer 2000 (from Q&A published Summer 2000)
NLP Representational Systems: Predicates (September 2001)
Using the famous NLP Eye Accessing Cues (January 2002)
'Gimme time to think!' (January 2006)
The NLP Eye Accessing Cues (January 2007)
NLP & Representational Systems (February 2007)
The ‘NLP Lie Detector Technique’ (February 2008)
Trivialising NLP (again…) (February 2010)
The NLP Lie-Detector Myth (yet again…) (August 2010)
How to use the NLP 'Rep Systems' (March 2012)
‘The Eyes Don’t Have It’ – NLP scientifically disproved? (July 2012)
Using the NLP Eye Movements (April 2013)
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