Many students have asked me, “How can I practice if I don’t have a group around me?” Some will start a group on Facebook and meet virtually to practice. Some, who live in a more populated area might have other Society of NLP people in the area or even people who are just interested in NLP and join together in practice or Meetup groups. All of these are great and can certainly be a place to practice.
But to truly hone your skills the best place to practice is everyday life. Every interaction is an opportunity whether you’re speaking to a store clerk or your boss, each person you meet is a chance to play with a skill or multiple skills in order to successfully gain your desired outcome.
I began seriously studying NLP because I wanted to use it in work. I had just joined an Executive Recruiting firm and the first time I made a cold call I was literally shaking as I matched tonality and pace. The funny thing was, as I gained rapport, I was able to ask what was important to the person and elicited criteria and values. The call went well and after hanging up I couldn’t believe how easily the conversation flowed. When you’re first beginning it seems that there’s so much to keep track of and the things that became comfortable in the seminar room now move by at lightning speed. I understand, I’ve been there when I started too. I was trying to do everything at once becauseI was so serious about getting better.
That was my first mistake. I was taking things too seriously. When I began to think of playing with my skills and having fun with them, I quickly became more comfortable with incorporating them into my daily communications and interactions. And anyone who’s been to a seminar with Richard Bandler and John and Kathleen La Valle can testify that fun is an integral part of the learning experience.
The best advice I’ve given my students is play with one skill a day and just concentrate on it. Then move on to another skill and then another. Soon you’ll find yourself incorporating multiple skills into techniques. Because they’re powerful, the techniques will often work without being strong in the basic NLP skills. After all, people have cured themselves from reading books on NLP but when you’re working with clients or doing demonstrations, it’s the mastery of basic skills that give you the ability to pivot from one technique to another smoothly to directionalize the client’s or audience’s thoughts – especially when you get a reaction you don’t expect.
So study seriously and learn all you can and then go out in the world and use your skills with a playful attitude. Use your skills everywhere, I particularly like the workplace, you have a captive audience. That’s why I never say I practice. I say I play.