Saturday, January 25, 2014

Does the NLP practitioner certification teach 'soft skills?'

I was watching a promo video for a program in leadership. The speaker said she taught the 'soft skills.' Hard skills, technical skills will get you a job, but soft skills, she said, would help you progress through your career.

I've played contact sports and I've gone through labour twice (the second time without drugs). I would rather do that than be torn to shreds by the words of someone I trusted. So I am not sure that I can get on board with reading and responding to people being 'soft' and manipulating stuff that doesn't fight back as being 'hard.'  I think the hardest moments in the life of any leader are the ones where she has to make a decision without knowing what is right, when she has to stand in front of people and show more confidence than she feels so that they will have courage, when she has to back off and let people make their own mistakes.  It takes skill to navigate those kind of situations and that kind of skill takes a lifetime (or more) to master.

So let me be clear what we do in the trainings I lead. We practice the core competencies of relating to other human beings in ways that yield predictable, desirable results. The tools we use involve a basic understanding of neurology, decision making theory and research, heightened sensory awareness and models of values like grit, determination and vision. We cannot give any of these qualities to anyone, but we can condition them to actively value them in themselves and others and to develop them intentionally so that they have enough of what they need when they need it.

Beyond this, we use the same mindset as lean managers to cut waste and produce synergies so that people can get more reliable results with less waste. In our case, that means less time in the training room, and more conditioning to practice and adapt outside the training room. Our training is shorter because we work very hard to produce efficiencies in attention and accelerate learning.

Some people train NLP techniques as soft skills, options to be used intentionally only some of the time. Some people train NLP techniques as a set of strategies and techniques that take many years to learn and are mostly either too complicated to apply in conversation or too simplified to be of use when someone has a lot on the line.  We train NLP practices for building the core of human achievement: integrity, vision, awareness, resilience and connection.

When you meet someone who exemplifies integrity, vision, awareness, resilience and connection, I bet you don't think of them as 'soft.'


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