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Do you Focus your own Experience or the Non-verbals of Others?

May 22, 2012
Tim Hallbom

When you want to deepen rapport and understanding with someone, make an effort to notice the direction that their attention goes during conversation. Do they respond with appropriate head nods and cues to your non-verbal communication in an animated way? Or do they seem to only hear the content of what you are saying with very little expression?

Attention Direction: Self vs. Other

Self: You react to the content of what is being said and not the voice tone, facial expressions or non-verbals (gestures, postures, etc.) of other people. You will often times show very little expression, even though there is no lack of feeling. You evaluate how well a conversation is going based on your own internal feelings. You may have a greater challenge in establishing rapport because you are missing other people’s non-verbal hints and clues.

Other: You tend to be very animated and responsive to people, often using head nods and “uh-huhs” while they are talking. You frequently pay attention and react to both the content of what is being said and the voice, tone, tempo, body language, gestures, etc. You pick up signals and cues from others in a very intuitive way.

By observing and identifying which meta-program someone prefers (in a specific setting) for “attention direction”, you will be able to determine the more appropriate language to use with them. For someone with a more “self” program, remember to keep your focus on the content and match his or her criteria. On the other hand, with a more “other” oriented person, acknowledge and match their affect.

No matter what profession you are in, if you work with other people, knowing their meta-programs can be very useful. Understanding which meta-programs someone is operating out of (in a specific setting) will give you fast and effective insight into his or her preferred thinking style, indicating the best route for increased rapport and clear communication.

About the author 

Tim Hallbom

Director of NLPCA -- NLP and Coaching Institute of California

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  1. Getting to know other´s thinking style is extremely useful, is not so easy at the beginning but with practice I have heard it can be done very easily and quickly, I hope I can attend some training with you, there are many things I want to learn.

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