Transcript: Introduction to NLP by Fiona Campbell (Max#24)

Here is the latest transcript to the very motivational interview with NLP expert Fiona Campbell as she provides an introduction to NLP techniques for those of you who are interested in improving your communication at work or in your personal life.


Kevin: Welcome to Maximise Potential the podcast to educate and motivate through a range of original interviews designed to help you maximise your potential. Brought to you in association with the award winning recruitment group Jenrick.

Welcome back everyone to episode 24 of Maximise Potential. In response to the amount of interest that our interviews have generated within the subject of NLP we decided to interview one of the most prominent trainers and coaches within the field. Fiona Campbell is one of the UKs most distinguished NLP trainers who specialises in NLP for business success. She has over 20 years of NLP and business coaching experience having been personally trained by the founder of NLP Richard Bandler who she continues to work with today. So in between a hectic schedule of courses we managed to sit down with Fiona to record this interview where she very eloquently explains the fundamentals of NLP and then gives us all NLP techniques which we can immediately apply on the phone, in person and through email to improve the effectiveness of our communication within business. Over to Fiona.


Fiona where are we going to start today?

Fiona: Well we are going to start about a very brief explanation of NLP. I am an NLP trainer and I noticed some of the other podcasts you have NLP has been mentioned and it is just to give you a very brief description of where it came from. The terminology NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming and the co-creators of NLP are Richard Bandler, Dr Richard Bandler and John Grinder. They came together in the 70s to model excellence in others and some of the people they worked with were like Milton Erickson and Virginia Satir. These were people who were getting tremendous results with their clients in a therapy area and the question that John and Richard were both asking was how do they do this. Not why do they do it – how do they do it. So from that has developed, it started off in the world of therapy and now it has moved more and more into education into the world of sports and also into the business world.

Kevin: That’s interesting with these therapists were they aware of why they were getting these exceptional results or?

Fiona: This is where NLP actually came in because if you think about it historically this was all able to happen at a time where someone like Richard Bandler could actually sit down in front of a film of someone working and watch it over and over and over and over again. And actually break down the process of what they were doing.

Kevin: So that is how he did just literally watching it again and again and again and watching for those little signs of.

Fiona: Listening to the language, watching physiology and being able to actually find out the process of how someone did something. So NLP comes from in my opinion the very first time that people really started to think about how they were thinking. And once you start to think about how you think, not why you think, once you think about how you think it opens up a sense of curiosity to start finding out how someone does what they are doing.

Kevin: What promoted Richard Bandler to do this?

Fiona: I believe he is just a very, very curious person and wanted to know what made people work how they did it. Just curious of the process because you have to remember he comes from a mathematical background, computer programming background.

Kevin: Well that is the bit that intrigues me because I had read that and hearing you talk about sort of the whole therapy side of it I wasn’t expecting that so I am trying to understand why someone interested in maths and computers would actually suddenly find themselves immersed in NLP or creating it.

Fiona: Well he was in, he was actually in a position where he was introduced to Virginia Satir and he was given the opportunity to actually spend time with some of these people and he is the type of man who is intensely curious and wanted to know what makes them, how did they tick, how did they do this. So from that became the modelling of behaviour because what we understand now with neuro science is individuals each individual human being on this planet creates their own model of the world based on how they are processing information.

Kevin: Now that is going to be hard for the layman out there to suddenly get their heads around isn’t it.

Fiona: Well I know you have been to a party and I know most of the people listening to this at some point will have been to a party. And then a few weeks later you all get chatting, you all start talking about the party and you start to say hang on I didn’t see that, I didn’t notice that happening and you question whether you were all at the same party. I am sure you have had that experience at some point. And if you take that into a business context I am sure lots of people listening to this will have experienced having been to a meeting with some people and then a few weeks later maybe discussing that meeting and all arguing about the point of the meeting because that is not how they actually experienced the meeting.

Kevin: Now I am beginning to see the practical application of this okay yeah.

Fiona: So all individuals are creating their own reality of the world. We represent the world through our senses. Now in the world of NLP or neuro linguistic programming you will hear people talking about the representational systems. All that we mean by that is our senses. So you have visual, auditory, kinaesthetic which is the feeling, feelings that you have. We also have gustatory and olfactory. So for a human being to represent the world they have to do, the only way they can do this is through their five senses. The only way people can talk about how they are representing things is through language. So when someone is telling you about something they do that through language. So the whole thing about NLP is the process of how you can find out how someone creates whatever they are creating. So if it is someone creating something in a very successful way you can actually find out the process of how they do that and then you can take that on yourself you can learn how to do that. And this is where we talk about modelling. The modelling of excellence comes in.

If you can actually understand how someone creates something in fact this is how we represent the world but the thing is most people aren’t consciously aware of this. Now where this fits in to a business situation is that you can actually track how people are processing the world by listening to their language. So what happens is there is a certain sense will actually dominate but it context driven and it changes. Human being change. We change in different contexts. I am sure when you are home with your family you are slightly different to maybe in the middle of a very formal meeting.

Kevin: I would say slightly different yes especially when I have a three and a half year old jumping over me. Yeah.

Fiona: Most of us are. Most of us are so it is actually, the lovely thing about having an understanding and once you get very elegant in the use of NLP is you’re able to track how that other person is creating their version of the world based on their language, the language they are using.

Kevin: Okay.

Fiona: And there are other parts as well but for today I would like to just stay on the visual the auditory and the kinaesthetic. And what we mean by kinaesthetic is the feelings. So can I give you an example of this.

Kevin: Please I think the more examples the better.

Fiona: An example of this for example in a sale situation is someone comes in to; I will just use a car showroom as an example.

Kevin: Yep.

Fiona: If someone comes in to a car showroom and says ‘My wife and I have been having a discussion about getting a new car because we really wanted to have a chat it is time that we wanted to think about getting a new car. So we wanted to just sound out what it would be like to maybe come in have a wee chat with you, sit down and then we will see how we feel about it. If we like what you have got to say then we might consider looking at something today’.

Kevin: Okay.

Fiona: So the language that is being used there is predominantly auditory language. They are talking about discussion; they are talking about listening and chatting. So the sales person doesn’t know about this or maybe doesn’t do this intuitively.

Kevin: Yeah.

Fiona: And I will explain about that in a moment is that if you go in and respond to that person and say ‘Oh yes come and have a look at the cars because I can show you the lovely covers and how sleek they all look and then once you see what it is like then we can sit down’. Can you here how that almost is speaking two different languages?

Kevin: I can and you know what the scary thing was, when you were saying your sentence about what the people were saying about coming down today all I heard was the word see in there. So it showed that I wasn’t hearing the whole sentence because all I heard was ‘and we will see what is down there’.

Fiona: Well that will be interesting for you to listen back and hear how much has actually been said before there was any visual words in there because the visual word came right in at the end. So the way to actually work with that is once you start really listening the response is ‘fantastic lets go and sit and have a chat and you can explain to me what it is you are actually looking for.’ Still playing a wee bit of visual but we are talking about a chat and explaining then we can discuss some of the options. And then when you work in that way you actually are working so that the client or the person you are talking to feels as though they are understood and listened to.

Kevin: And I think this is, this classic NLP saying is this about building rapport?

Fiona: Yes. Rapport is one part of it but it is when people buy from people whether they are buying a service, whether they are buying a product or whatever or an idea people will actually buy into someone they like and feel the same as. So to track that consciously the response would be using lots of auditory words first. And what we mean by kinaesthetic words is so we will check and see how that feels with you and if you are comfortable with that and if that is a good feeling to go on, there is all sorts of ways you can say this. And then you would bring in we will go and have a look. So if you actually respond, if the sales person is responding not only using similar words so the visual words, sorry the auditory words first of all and then the kinaesthetic words and the visual using it in the same sequence becomes incredibly powerful.

Kevin: Okay can I throw in a different example or ask you to throw in a different example. The thing that I hate and I am sure pretty much everybody else hates is you know when you get the telesales person whether you are at work or at home and they ring up and they just go into a script and you cant even say anything for about two minutes have you ever had the opportunity to train them or other people who predominantly have to lead through the phone?

Fiona: Well my background is I worked with Yell for seven years.

Kevin: Opps I have just probably insulted your career then sorry.

Fiona: Ah but we were professional telesales executives.

Kevin: Okay.

Fiona: Highly trained in getting peoples attention in the first three seconds.

Kevin: Well that is very different from the people I get calling me.

Fiona: Yes what happens the poor telesales people in a lot of situations and what I mean poor telesales people get put on to the phone and told just pick up the phone and go and a lot of companies will not invest in development for them at all. But when companies are looking to develop and we did there actually as a company we worked with and one of the people who trained with us taught their telesales people to listen for the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic and increased their sales by 40%.

Kevin: Okay that is a real example.

Fiona: And we are talking about in, there has been quite a lot of examples of companies using this and in most cases they will find that their sales will go up because over the phone all you are using is language and tonality. So it’s the tone that you will be listening to as well. First thing that you teach anybody on the phone is immediately get them to imagine the other person picking up the phone. And if you get them to imagine picking up the phone you are putting yourself into their world straight away. And you imagine what that person would like to hear when they pick up the phone. So what I always lead with is ‘Hello my name is Fiona are you okay to talk at the moment?’ You either get a yes or a no. When you get a no ‘When would be a good time to call you back?’ and you will find out if you can call them back. If they say yes it is okay straight away I would start listening to the words that they are using. So if they are giving me visual words I will come back then with visual words. If they are giving me auditory words I will come back with auditory words. I will very often give them the same words back that they have given me.

Kevin: Okay.

Fiona: And that way very, very quickly you can build telephone rapport but you have got three seconds on the phone especially if you are teaching people to work on the phone the most important thing the person picking up the phone is to be in a good state before they start. And what I mean by that is actually having the physiology so that it comes into their voice so that they really sound like someone the other person would like to speak to. And that comes from, and again this is another aspect of NLP it is called states. This is when we are talking about states. So it is how you change the chemicals in your body and how you can put a giggle into your voice and how you can make things sound interesting for the person who is listening to you.

Kevin: And you are doing this instantly. Our audience can’t see you doing this but all of a sudden you have sat up straighter your eyes are brightened you are smiling when you are talking it is just immediately you are.

Fiona: And that comes across in the voice that translates to the voice. So the very first thing for anyone wanting any tips for working on the phone be in a good state before you even pick the phone up. And be the type of person; actually get your voice sounding like someone you would like to talk to. Because if you don’t want to talk to yourself nobody else is going to want to talk to you. And then you start bringing in the visual, the auditory kinaesthetic language. Teach people to listen and the mistake a lot of people make in a sales environment is just bombarding someone with information. Good sales people know that the people they sell to are going to buy whatever it is they are selling and the trick is they buy from you not someone else. And the only way you can do that is to find out what it is they need and you do this with specific questions. You will hear it used in sales with open questions. You will get people to really start giving you information and when people are giving you information that means that you can build up a picture of what it is they require a lot easier. Now the whole definition of the rapport is the one we use is that you have rapport with someone when someone starts volunteering information you haven’t asked for yet. The minute you are asking questions and someone is giving you a direct answer to that question you are just in communication but there will be a tipping point as long as you ask the right questions that are not about your role, that are about the person you are working with world so you are curious, you are interested. People like people to be interested in them. So when you are really curious about their worlds and ask the right questions you will start to get far more information. So you could take for example an estate agent and some customers come in, some clients come in that are looking to buy a house and so what size of house – three bedrooms. Do you want detached or semi-detached? Detached and you will get just facts. And then once the rapport starts to build you will find your clients saying things ‘well actually we know there is some really good schools in this area and we have got a couple of young children and we are really looking because we want to go into a good school and then we have noticed with the houses round here quite a lot they have got a bit of land and at some point we would like to maybe really expand and build onto the house.’ So within, when you built rapport with someone through language skills you start getting so much more information that you would never have found out with just questions.

Kevin: Yeah because all of a sudden these are the real buying signals as such and that is all because a) you took the time to listen, really listen to how they were saying stuff and b) you responded in that similar tone or using the similar, I forget the exact expressions you’ve used, similar whether it is an auditory bias or a visual bias.

Fiona: Yes it is the representational systems or your senses just the visual the auditory and the kinaesthetic. So it is visual and the listening, the way I like to see it – the seeing words, the hearing words and the feeling words and when you can match that it is fantastic.

Kevin: This is really well I am going to say it has been an eye opener so that means I am responding in a visual way um I am suddenly becoming extremely aware of everything I am doing; no this is really, really great. What else do you want to share?

Fiona: Well an interesting exercise that people can do.

Kevin: Yeah.

Fiona: If you are a team leader get together a sheet of paper and put lots of visual words and keep them together, lots of auditory words and then lots of kinaesthetic words, feeling words, emotion words.

Kevin: Okay.

Fiona: And what you do is work round, you can have this as a team exercise where you get different people on the team to start, you get one to start to talk only in visual language, one to talk only in auditory language, one to talk only in feeling language. Always work with odd numbers so everybody changes each time and go round the group three or four times. It is a fascinating exercise. Because the people that struggle with a specific representation system will hardly be able to say the words but the minute they go on to one they are really familiar with the words will just flow. Because a good leader is able to use all these words together. So for example someone who is very good at communicating someone who is very charismatic very influential you will find them using lots of visual words they are using lots of auditory words they are using lots of kinaesthetic words and they are also just to make it even more powerful throwing in lots of facts and figures as well.

Kevin: And that way they are appealing to their entire audience I guess.

Fiona: Everyone in the audience.

Kevin: Yeah and everybody’s senses. Okay I can see yeah.

Fiona: So with NLP with the neuro linguistic programme because remember it is neuro of the brain, linguistics is our middle name and the programming is how the brain processes and programmes through language and how it works in neurology. So it is a massive subject but I just, it is just to stick on this particular part of it the VAK the visual auditory and kinaesthetic. And one of the easiest ways we have got the best tool in the world for learning this now email. All you have to do is actually print it off and look at the pattern without even reading it because think about someone that maybe you’ve had a problem with. It could be a team member it could be a client someone that you are not quite communicating with.

Kevin: Yeah so you just feel like there is a clash or a barrier or something.

Fiona: Print off your emails and just have a look at the language. Start reading the language and really reading the language from a visual auditory and kinaesthetic point of view. Someone who is for example processing quite highly in kinaesthetic because they want to feel good and they can start off an email with going ‘Hi isn’t it amazing seeing all this snow oh I feel so happy to see all this snow and blah, blah, blah, blah’ talking about their feelings and in the middle of all that will say ‘and how far have you got with the report and hope to see you good, hope you are blah, blah, blah’ So it is a long email with lots of feeling words and lots of hoping the person is okay and feeling good and whatever. So you will have someone who is receiving this email, now most leaders learn to do things they concentrate time, they get so many things to do they have to learn strategies to do things quickly. And in doing so the language gets shorter and shorter and shorter and they become quite processed in the way they do things. So someone will say for example your team leader receives this email that comes in Hi and everything on it and then they look at it and go for goodness sake what is this person asking. They scan through everything then go ah report and then they go that’s done and then reply done. So they send a reply, one word reply back to this person who looks at it and goes ah I’ve done something wrong that person doesn’t like me I’ve really done something to upset them because they are not talking to me now. Hi I have just had your reply back da, da, da and I have just noticed that you’ve done the email is everything okay are you talking to me da, da, da. So it becomes fascinating when you see this happening within a business situation. So a good leader because what I specialise in leadership development a good leader is able when they see someone is using lots of kinaesthetic language they put a little bit, I am not talking about send a big, big long email back they soften it. You just put a little bit of hope everything is okay or that is fantastic what you did I am really so it is a little bit of the sort of touchy feel, what we say the touchy feely stuff.

Kevin: Yeah okay.

Fiona: The converse if someone is used to putting out lots of touchy feely words in their emails start matching if you are getting people sending one word or two word or three word emails send them back exactly in the same pattern as they send you. And it is looking at the language so what you are doing is you are matching their own way of doing things, their process if you like. Now we have done a lot of work with the NHS we have been training many people in the NHS with NLP techniques for quite a few years now and we have been gathering evidence to show the amount of emails that get sent drops dramatically and also the response to the emails is a lot quicker. So where there might have been four or five emails sent for one situation they are getting the response they want in one or two emails now.

Kevin: Wow okay.

Fiona: So this creates massive time saving. But again NLP is all about the process of how we create behaviour. So in essence we all do this behaviour so everyone is doing this. The NLP part of it allows you to think about your thinking and become conscious of a lot of the things you do.

Kevin: It sounds like you are gaining control over far more aren’t you.

Fiona: Well you are becoming aware of how you are doing it. If for example I am not for one minute people are far too busy to be doing this in every single email however if you have got important email to go back to someone just draft your response as usual then look at it and compare it with what they have sent to you and then match it. So if there are lots of visual words in there make sure there is plenty of visual and use some of the same words because people will not see that consciously. They won’t even notice consciously because this is an unconscious process. So what this is all about is we all create our own reality of the world. NLP is Neuro which is the way the neurology works, Linguistic which is the language we use Programming how we program our behaviour based on the language and the way our neurology gets changed according to that language. We work from the presupposition that every single person has their own resources within them to make any changes that they want to change. And also you are able to go in and understand because everyone creates their own reality you can actually understand a lot better individuals realities by listening to the language they use and by doing that you can then go into their worlds create better rapport and by just matching your visual your auditory and your kinaesthetic language, matching that as you are hearing it because remember it is context driven and just because someone the last time you met them was using lots of visual words doesn’t always mean they will be using lots of visual words the next time you see them things could have changed in their world. So it is matching them and understanding the whole thing that language, the language is the way that people can tell you what is going on and people will tell you literally what is going on inside their head when you can stop and listen.

Kevin: That was I would say a pretty good intro to NLP.

Fiona: Thank you.

Kevin: Thank you Fiona that was a great start thank you so much.


Kevin: Fiona thank you very much for giving us such a thorough introduction into the fundamentals of NLP coupled with the excellent examples of how we can immediately apply the techniques within our own working environments. If you fancy learning more about Fiona Campbell and the NLP courses for business that she and her team run then please click on the show notes where you can find links straight through to Fiona’s website. In addition Fiona is a very active member within the Maximise Potential LinkedIn group so if you would like the opportunity to connect with her plus several others who have appeared on the podcast then please come over and join the group.

Up next on Maximise Potential is going to be our further instalment from the Morgan Cars interviews this time with their Finance Director Tim Whitworth. And Tim is going to discuss the complex array of challenges faced by Morgan in order for them to compete in this very saturated and competitive market place. Thanks as always to Jenrick especially as it was their management team who introduced me to Fiona and enabled this interview to take place on Maximise Potential and here is a great track from Xerxes to finish it all off with called ‘My favourite kind of silence’. Thanks again for listening.


We hope you enjoyed listening to this interview and can start putting the NLP techniques to use in your own business, career and personal life.

Further NLP Resources and Advice

If you enjoyed this interview, why not have a listen to another interview on NLP techniques by Kay White, Communcation Specialist and Trainer by simply clicking on the link below.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!