NLP Success Principle Three - Have Sensory Acuity

Updated: Aug 22

Last week we discussed the first principle of success as we see it in the NLP environment, Take Action.


This week we look at the second principle, Having Sensory Acuity.


Now unlike taking action, this one is not as simple as it sounds and will need some effort to master, yet the result is equally transformative.


Have you ever been in a situation where you meet someone and have a discussion, thinking it really went well, only to discover afterward that the outcome was not what you expected?


Let's say you are a salesperson that is pitching to a client. You have a strong product, and competitive pricing, plus you spent the past few days working on your presentation. You have your pitch, the hook and closing all well-rehearsed. Because you rehearsed well, you run through the sales pitch just like you planned. In the end, when it comes to closing the sale however, the client says no. What went wrong?


Another scenario could be a bit more personal. You have met the woman of your dreams, and since everything is going so well, and you both want to spend the rest of your lives together, you decide to honour tradition and ask her father for her hand in marriage. To try and quell the nerves, you carefully rehearse all your lines to make sure you appear as perfect as she thinks you are :-) No pressure... What you did not expect was a barrage of questions about your past and future plans, but in the end, after nervously answering all the questions, you get back to your rehearsed lines. After what seems like an eternity, he politely says, he is not sure and will need to think about it. How did you get to this point?


While stating your case in either of these scenarios, you were likely so focused on not making any mistakes, and sticking to your script, that you resembled a 2-year-old heading for his favourite toy. His focus is on the toy and nothing but the toy. He does not notice that his sibling is heading there as well. He does not see the toy train on the floor, which is about to make him trip and fall.


In all of these examples, our foveal view or tunnel vision prevents us from seeing other factors, that may derail our well laid out plans.


To avoid this we need to practice sensory acuity. Sensory acuity simply stated means how good we are at using our senses.


When applied in the context of NLP, it refers to our ability to use our senses to make accurate observations about ourselves, our surroundings, and other people.


If you had a heightened sensory acuity, you may have noticed during your sales pitch the slight change in your customers body language when you compared your product to his current supplier's. Instead of comparing existing features, you would have been able to adjust your approach and focus more on the value-added features.


While asking your future father in law for his daughter's hand in marriage, you would have seen the slight squinting of his eyes, when you mentioned how much you enjoy drinking and partying with the boys, and instead of bragging about your latest escapade, would have adjusted your response to show him that those days are now behind you, even though you may still enjoy a beer with him the next family braai.


These examples are very simple and perhaps even a bit shallow, yet they get the point across.


When we improve our sensory acuity - not only as coaches or leaders - we are able to detect minor changes in the physiology of others. Physiological changes, not matter how minor are a reflection of an internal response. If you have watched Ice Age you will know exactly what I mean! Scrat is a perfect example...


The eye twitch is a physiological indication that something is about to explode internally. A precursor of sorts.


The ability to notice slight changes places the power in your hands during negotiations, as well as when the buy-in to an idea or product.


If you are a coach, you will be able to direct your questioning, based on the physiological responses of your client, to better guide them in discovering hidden truths, and move closer to their purpose.


As a practice, make a conscious effort to notice these small physiological changes and relate them to verbal and non-verbal responses to improve your sensory accuity.







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