The more we’re aware of what’s really important to us, the more we’re able to work towards being satisfied and fulfilled. When we’re in a role that meets our values we’ll be able to access our ‘flow’ state more easily, perform better and achieve better results. Whereas, when we’re in a role that doesn’t meet our values, we may keep going for a while, but in the end, our enthusiasm will fizzle out and we’ll leave.
One of the strongest ways of developing rapport is to talk about the things that others attach importance to, as mentioned on the rapport page. When we demonstrate that we understand what’s important to our clients, they will be drawn to get into rapport with us and want to work with us.
In theory, this is easy. We just ask: “What’s important to you?” Or “In this situation, what’s important to you?
However, in practise it doesn’t always work, for two reasons:
When I’ve introduced this in courses, people often say that it’s too simple, that it can’t possibly work. My response is that the only way to test it is to try it – like anything else in NLP! In practise it’s not as simple or quite as easy as it sounds, but it works really well.
You need paper (or a laptop) to write down key words. Ask your client to choose an area in life he/she wants to explore. For example, work, home, hobbies. The results may or may not be the same, the best approach is to run the exercise on all of them.
Let your client know you’re looking for one word answers. The idea is that they don’t think too much, and they let the answers emerge. It’s the closest NLP gets to Freudian free association.
Ask them to remember a specific time at work that they were ‘in flow’. Everything was working as it should. It doesn’t matter whether it was for 15 minutes or 15 days. Ask your client:
Write it down. Then ask “What did that get you?”. Write down whatever they say. Then ask the same question for whatever they’ve just said. Write it down. Continue just beyond the point of politeness.
Then read the list of words that they’ve said (and you’ve written), and ask : Which of those words was the most important to you at that time? And highlight on your paper what they say. It’s OK if they choose more than one. Highlight them.
Then start the exercise again. You say “ So ‘x’ (and ‘maybe ‘y’) was important to you. What else was important to you at that time?” And then repeat the exercise. And repeat again until you’ve three or four lists with at least one highlighted for each.
Then read back the highlighted word back and confirm what was important to your client at that time. You can work with your client to refine the list. However, it’s vital that you don’t bring in any ideas of your own. This is about what’s important to your client, not you.
When you’ve created the list, ask your client to chose the top three or four (or the number they think is important.). When you’ve finalised them, ask your client for confirmation. Read them out and tell your client that these were the things that were important at that time.
To check you’ve actually helped them to find out their values, you need to look out for non-verbal affirmation, for example, them leaning in, with excitement in their voice. If you don’t get a positive nonverbal response it’s unlikely you’ve uncovered their values.
For a further check, separate the words from the context. Ask them that if another job or project came up which offered (repeat their words) with absolute certainty. Would they be interested?
Again look for their nonverbal response. If you’ve elicited their values it will be a clear yes.
We have now established some words-labels for what’s important to our clients. The next step is to confirm what these words actually mean in the real world.
Ask your client to chose their most important value. Then ask them to create two short mental movie clips: One clip in which their key value is met and another in which it isn’t met.
Ask your client to describe the two clips. What’s the difference between them?
The question is : What would have to change in the clip where their value wasn’t met?
When you think it is the appropriate to do so, ask your client “What’s really important to you about this”? And whatever they answer, repeat it back to them and say, “Anything else?” When they’ve replied, repeat, even to the point of annoying the other person, and then say “What does achieving this get you”? or “That’s interesting, what else does getting it do for you?
Finally repeat back a summary of your client’s top values, and confirm that you have noted them correctly.