John La Valle examines one of the subtleties of pacing and leading to ensure more effective communication.
John La Valle, President of the Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming
John La Valle,
President of the Society of NLP

Do you find yourself fishing for those highly valued criteria? You went to some NLP class and they taught you to ask all those questions that are supposed to elicit metaprograms? Well, it's not the metaprogram, or responses to the elicitation questions that supposedly provides the person's metaprograms, but the actual sequencing of their metaprograms as the person naturally speaks that provides more valuable information. So the real skill is in getting the person (customer, client) to speak naturally so you can track the programs and sequencing of them.

Now, just in terms of sequence, I'll begin here with something very simple. Remember that pacing and leading does have its value in context. And while many times, it's even OK to reverse that to lead then pace, it's even more important to notice if you're getting the information you're seeking, or that you want or need. And this exactly what an associate of mine has done: He's noticed that his employees weren't getting the information they want from their clients, or even potential clients. Why? Because they didn't yet come and learn with me to fine tune those ever valuable nuances that can make or break the day, or even the month, for that matter.

What was happening was that when someone would come into their studio for a workout, the client may say something like, "Hi, I decided to come in today to work out a bit." And the consultant would ask them, "Why is it important to you to work out today?" And while this all sounds well and good in context, it breaks the client's state in such a way that the consultant wouldn't get a verbal response, but more of a bewildered nonverbal response from the client. Why? Simple: the client never stated that it's important to them. And since the question is asked out of the context in which the client is operating, they would have to transderivational search beyond the first and even second derivation just to try and figure out why they are being asking this question, because of the presupposition in the question!

Now, had the consultant responded differently like this: "It's really good to see that you decided to come in today (pace) and it must be important to you that you have." And wait for the client to respond to this conversational postulate. If they say, "Yes, it is", now the consultant has the segue to go on with, "Let me ask you something, because I'm really interested in other people's motivations and reasons [Chialdini pattern to increase the propensity of getting a response], What's important to you about that?" (Client makes submodality shift to dissociated so they can have a "better picture" and see themselves in the visual and since they're already being asked to go to a meta position to calculate what they are being asked to calculate, anyway, give them some assistance with the shift).

And chances are, the client will provide more information in this instance. We'll find out what happens as my associate now brings his staff up to speed fine-tuning their skills.

Remember, elicitation ought to be designed to be Well-Targeted enough to elicit the information you want or need, and yet flexible enough to be changed quickly enough to still hit your mark. In Persuasion Engineering™, we teach how to design questions in just this way. Did you know that you can design one question and ask it in about 12-15 ways? And that's just the start, naturally.

©2010 John La Valle, all rights reserved in all media

Learn more about language patterns and how to use them at our NLP courses, with John La Valle and Dr Richard Bandler, co-creator of NLP.

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