NLP Adds Value to Your Career
By Thomas R W Bain, Dean, International School of Project Management
In the past nine years that I have worked in India, I have often met people with Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification in various forums. Many of them have studied science at a higher secondary level and have completed their bachelor’s or master’s degree in technology. They have relied on PMP® training to acquire the management skills needed to move from a purely technical position into a management one. Yet they have had little exposure to the humanities, arts, and social sciences that touch on communications.
Communications training could emerge as a way of gaining credibility in management. In this respect, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) that is widely regarded in the academic world as a “pseudo-science” provides a project manager the training on necessary skills.
Views of two of India’s foremost NLP specialists regarding the approaches help explain why this is so. Mr. Ashok Subramanian of the Shinota Group has a personal way of developing awareness in different contexts, whether from an everyday or leadership perspective. He argues that the NLP technique known as ‘modelling’ enables people to understand how to improve their strategies to cope and excel in a variety of situations. Mr. Sushil Mehrotra of the Wisdom Tree Group views NLP as a corrective science, enabling managers to improve strategies with the help of tools and techniques. His teaching focuses more on learning an array of techniques for an improved grasp of many different situations. Both the approaches are reflected in internationally recognized certificates, such as those of NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Trainer and NLP Master Trainer.
Indeed, NLP is an experience rather than a science. Here, is a short example of how a depressed person (‘participant’) meets an NLP trainer:
Participant: “I feel depressed.”
Trainer: “How do you feel when you are not depressed?”
Participant: “I feel great” (Cartesian logic, or in other wordslogical analysis, has been used to bring the person into a happy state).
Trainer: “Why do you feel great?”
Participant: “I feel recognized.”
Trainer (putting two hands forward): “If the left hand is the family, and the right the office, where is the pain?” (Participant chooses the right hand. The trainer now knows that there is a recognition problem in the office).
Trainer: “Why do you work?”
Participant: “To earn money for my family.”
Trainer: “Does the company employ you to pay a salary?”
(Participant begins to understand that his aims are not the same as the company’s).
The trainer then uses goal-setting techniques either to help the participant sort out his professional aims and align them with corporate ones, or to choose a more suitable job or career that motivates him differently.
NLP has been developed in a variety of ways in the US and the UK, and is also in tune with Indian culture. In many respects, its development is similar to that of Ayurveda, the practice of traditional Indian medicine. Eschewing intellectual theories, NLP is a science that has developed through practice. It is learnt not from textbooks but by means of practice with other people in the same class, which accounts to over half of the course time. Similarly, Ayurveda has been developed from the observation and experience of 5,000 years ago. Its mental energies, the ‘gunas’, are compatible with NLP. This explains why its association with Indian culture is so harmonious.
In terms of career development, therefore, I view the PMP® certification as complementary to NLP, and would greatly help project managers in evolving into well-rounded professionals.