NLP for Business

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NLP for Business

By Jimmy Petruzzi (United Kingdom)

(1st Part can be found in iCN Issue 16 – NLP & Coaching; pages 27-30)


The sense of identity appears early in life as the infant begins to separate itself from the mother in what they previously viewed as an undifferentiated unit. A mirror image of themselves can provide the sudden shock of realising that they are separate beings. Young children typically cling to a single teddy bear, toy or doll, through which they know their own identity. When this transition object, so called by psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, is removed, a part of their identity is lost, causing distress and tears. This pattern continues through our lives as we identify with our possessions and the things around us and feel bad when they are changed or lost.

One of my clients, who had a successful career in modelling, was coming to the end of her career. She was suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, feeling down, uncertainty and apprehension. All her working career she had been judged on her appearance and this seemed to spill into her personal life. She said if she went out and someone made a comment about her appearance, it would stay with her for days, she would analyse it, it would affect her mind set.

After doing a couple of sessions with her, I asked the following question. “Who are you?” She looked at me with a blank expression and said she couldn’t answer it. She emailed me a few days later saying she was still struggling to answer the question.

How we define who we are affects our behaviour. For example, if you’re a doctor and you keep the same identity when you go home to your family after work, you will probably diagnose your family. It was the same for the model. After a few weeks she finally told me she did not know who she was anymore. She was lost and didn’t know what to do. She eventually did get her life back together and went into a different career.

I told her that the key step in moving forward is to not be hung up about who you think you might or might not be. Who you want to be is the key.


Take 10 minutes to do the following exercise. Choose an area of your professional or personal life in order to answer the questions (e.g., your job or your role as a parent).

Level Information

Spirit (Purpose) What am I here for? What am I part of that is greater than myself?

Identity Who am I? How do I define who I am?

Values and Beliefs What is important to me? What do I expect

(in a given situation)?

Capabilities What do I know how to do? What skills do I have?

Behaviour What am I doing?

Environment Where am I?


To gain an appreciation of how these logical levels work, assume it is 9 am and you are at your place of work (environment). If you don’t want to be there, then you need to change your behaviour.

There are several possible choices. You could walk out. You could do cartwheels over to and out the door. You could start yelling and screaming (maybe in the hopes that someone will take you out of the building), etc.

The behaviour you select depends on your capabilities and strategies. If you are capable of performing cartwheels, then this is certainly a possibility. On the other hand, your strategy may be to have someone help you to leave (by you yelling and screaming). Or, if you really don’t want to work there and need some source of income, your strategy might be to become ill so that you have a medical excuse and can go on long-term disability. Do you know anyone who has done this last behaviour—consciously or unconsciously?

The capability and strategy you choose will depend on your beliefs and values. If you believe that you can easily get another job to support your family, then becoming ill is not a choice for you but getting a new job is.

Your beliefs and values are determined by your identity. If you see yourself as a successful person then it is very possible that you would hold the belief that you can easily get another job or even create a business of your own.

Your identity is dependent on your purpose in life; i.e., the affect you wish to have on your community, etc.

This is a useful model for understanding change in a person, a team or a company. You can examine any problem or proposed change in terms of these different levels. Generally speaking, higher levels have more leverage than lower levels. In order to permanently solve a problem, you generally have to make changes at least one level higher than the level at which the symptoms show up.

UNDERSTANDING LOGICAL LEVELS IN BUSINESS Assume it is 10 am on a Monday morning and you are with your work colleagues for a scheduled meeting in your office (environment).

You have been given a new role and you feel it’s a demotion because you have been stripped of certain responsibilities. Some possible response choices are: you could go up to boss and ask why, you could tell one of your work colleges how the boss has got it wrong, or you could start shouting and acting silly with the hope you will grab the boss’s attention and be called into the office.

The behaviour you select depends on your capabilities and strategies. If you’re confident of these, approaching the boss and asking what may have been behind decision could work for you. If you’re not that confident, you could tell one of your colleagues how the boss has got it wrong or you might start screaming and acting silly to grab the boss’s attention, who then calls you into the office and you ask to leave the company.

The capability and strategy you choose will depend on your beliefs and values. If you believe that you are an important part of the company, a good performer and have a lot to offer the company when you get the opportunity to adapt to your new role, then you would more than likely go up to the boss and ask him or her about the decision to change your role. If you felt you were left out because your ability or your boss’s ability to understand the company strategy was inadequate (even without asking if this is so) you may tell your colleagues what a ridiculous decision it was and look for an exit strategy.

Your identity is dependent on your purpose in the company— the contribution or positive impact that you wish to have on your company—and how you define who you are.


Write down the answer to the following questions:

  1. Who are you? In life, you have different personas, which are adaptable to different situations. For example, the way you are at work may be different from how you are with your family and your friends. You may spilt your time between being a parent, partner, the main bread winner, manager of a company, football coach, a leader, teacher, or any number of combination of roles.

What is important is not the label for your role, it is how you define your role, because that is what has an impact on your results. The manager who defines their role as a taskmaster, a disciplinarian and controller will elicit a different response from their team than the manager who defines their role as a people developer, leader, and facilitator. How we define our role will elicit very different behavioural results from the people we associate with.

  1. What values and beliefs do you hold? If you lead by example, you will probably have strong values relating to taking responsibility and ensuring you get the best out of your colleagues and associates around you.

A leader who believes in getting the best out of people will have strong values concerning trust and potential of the team. A trainer creating a positive learning environment will value discovery, exploration and creativity.

These values will be supported by any number of beliefs. The nature of a belief causes you to focus on your values and proves the belief to be true. So, whatever you believe to be true, you will seek evidence to prove it and ignore the evidence to the contrary. That is why it is important to make sure your beliefs are empowering you to achieve the results you desire. For example, a manager with a belief that his team is inadequate or staff who believe the manager is inadequate, will continue to reinforce any difficulties the team is facing. On the other hand a manager who believes his staff has potential or staff who believe the manager has potential will find a way to realise it and will undoubtedly achieve better results.

  1. Are you limiting your true capability?

Your values and beliefs have a direct impact on your capability. Quite simply, if you believe that you can do something, then you will find a way of doing so. If you believe that you can’t do something, then you won’t bother to look for a way. Empowering beliefs unlock capability and limiting beliefs act as a barrier. Limiting beliefs stop you from putting the effort into things. It is like the kaleidoscope is stuck in the same pattern and although you have the power to change it, you refrain from doing so because you are either unaware or unsure of the consequences. Once you believe it is not possible to change something, you will find every excuse to make this true. Think of people who stay in a job they don’t like for several years and do not do anything to change other than moan, be miserable, and go through the daily motions.They use every excuse as to why they are stuck in the job: their education, upbringing, opportunities and so forth. You only have to look around you to find plenty of examples of people who use every excuse for not changing aspects of their life.

On the other end of the spectrum there are examples of many people who, against all odds, have gone on to achieve great things because of the power of their belief. Values and beliefs work together. If you value something enough, you will generate a belief that is possible to achieve it and put your energy into finding a way to do so. For example, Mike opted out of taking a promotion at work, saying he wasn’t up to the new tasks. He explained how at school his careers teacher had encouraged him to make the most of his limitations by staying in a career that he could master and therefore become valuable to the company. Mike followed this advice and took a clerical job; he worked at it for 9 years. He liked it at first though began to dislike it after a period of time. Mike had been offered a couple of promotions and had an opportunity to become an assistant manager. While Mike was discussing his current role with me, it became apparent he was doing many of the duties of an assistant manager already because of his experience and understanding of the company. He had actually even acted as an interim assistant manager on a few occasions  and received praise for his work. Despite this praise, Mike maintained the belief he could not fulfil the role of assistant manager on a permanent basis even though he enjoyed doing it. He decided to withdraw from the opportunity to take on the new role because of Mike’s acceptance of his teacher’s limiting belief. Mike did not live up to his natural ability in this area for many years.

  1. Is your behaviour aligned with your thinking?

Your behaviour is a result of the way you have organised your thinking at each of the preceding three levels. Once Mike was able to change his belief about his capability to sustain the role of assistant manager, it opened up a whole new range of activities for him. He began to implement and assist in developing strategies for a more efficient work environment. He began coordinating programmes, using his initiative to generate and implement new ideas and lead by example.

Some aspects of your behaviour will be working well for you, other aspects will not. Once behaviour becomes a habit, it is almost undetectable by you, until someone points it out. Which parts of your behaviour are no longer of use to you? What emotional warning signals are you feeling?

What would happen if you changed your perspective even slightly?

  1. Are you having an impact on your environment? The way you organise your thinking on the preceding four levels will determine the impact you have on your physical environment. Limiting beliefs and unclear purpose creates stress. The blame for stress is often placed on external factors

in the environment. That moves the focus away from the self and in doing so takes away your power to influence the outcome. With empowering beliefs and a strong sense of purpose, you are likely to take responsibility for changing your environment. Even unconsciously, you are likely to have a positive impact. Often you may believe it is the environment that is causing you some stress and is sounding your emotional warning signals. The stronger the limiting beliefs about your capability, the more likely it is that although you may recognise what is wrong, you will do nothing positive to create change. People who change things believe that they can.

The first step towards taking control is to identify the level at which the emotions are sending warning signals. I once worked with someone who regularly changed jobs for one reason or another. Eventually he was stuck in a position for more than a couple of years. He was finding it hard to get along with his colleagues at work, was becoming desperately unhappy and feeling more and more isolated. He blamed the culture in the organisation for his not being able to fit in. Once I encouraged him to reflect on his jobs with other companies, he realised this was how he reacted to every company at which he had worked. He admitted that the way he was feeling had nothing to do with the company he was working for; he was merely shifting responsibility for how he was feeling on to the place he was working at. The real problem was that he was not being assertive in the work environment. Fortunately we were able to identify this. He became familiar with his pattern and learned strategies to express assertiveness which led to him becoming more confident and happier.

  1. Are you aligned with your purpose?

Sometimes a change in behaviour does not follow a change in thinking. Have you ever been in a position where you have done something that you didn’t want to do? Perhaps you did it to please someone and then felt you had done yourself a disservice. Maybe you made a decision to start a new business or change jobs, though when it came to developing a business plan, doing market research or understanding the criteria of your new position, you let yourself down and reverted back to your old habits of going through the motions. It’s at times like these that you feel the emotional

warning signals and misalignment. In NLP, this state of misalignment, or incongruence, results in behaviour that doesn’t fit with other levels. Deep inside you want to act a certain way, but when the time comes you resist the inner urge. You tell yourself, “Not this time, maybe next time.” That is incongruence and is not something success thrives on.

Being successful in business requires congruence, which means the alignment of all levels—from knowing who you are to being aligned with your purpose. Only then you can affect your environment in the way you really want.

One of the key aspects of a successful business is when members of the team are all congruent, focused, positive and working from a good place of mind and body. A business which is incongruent in its actions is like a rudderless ship. It fosters an insecure environment, lacking in confidence and clarity. When you analyse all of your best work and when you have been at your most successful, chances are it has been when you were balanced and confident.


Like attracts like. In the same way that similar thoughts congregate, so do people. If you’re pessimistic, you will attract pessimistic people, and positive people will avoid you. Cynical people keep each other company and strengthen their cynical attitude. Any lack of self-belief and feelings of incongruence are likely to send off signals that others may interpret as you being unreliable, irrational or uncentred. As a consequence they may judge you as ineffective.

If you decide to be negative, you will be. But, if you gain the skills to help people’s lives, those who need you will find you. That’s how life works—it will bring you what you express with your whole being. The key message here is that whatever energy are you giving off will determine who and what you are attracting.

In a work environment you often hear people being referred to as arrogant, hard to work with and useless. You also hear people being referred to as excellent, fantastic and efficient. These are all interpretations of the energy the person is giving off and how they communicate. Both may be true or not true, but as soon as you have interpreted another person’s behaviour you have also chosen to relate to them with that judgement in mind. The real truth lies beneath the kaleidoscope of their thinking.

What you may pick up as a misalignment between levels is actually the result of the unconscious emotional warning signals this person is experiencing. The key to changing the way you relate to someone is to develop a curiosity about what is causing them to behave in such a way, rather than to interpret the behaviour you see.

Then you reduce your chances of falling into the trap of reacting according to a misinterpretation and increase the likelihood that you will begin to understand the person and communicate more effectively. Over years of working with many people in business who aren’t making the progress they would like, I have found that what they have in common when they think about the problem they are living with is a lack of direction or incongruence. When we discuss this, what they discover is how one frustration or problem is linked to another. Cluttered thinking, lack of confidence and low self-esteem can be linked to a fear of public speaking.

In business we will encounter many different types of situations. Some managers do not make the progress they want with their team, some new businesses struggle to get off the ground, some directors are petrified at the thought of giving a presentation to the board. There are professionals who are so snowed under with tasks that they are stressed and losing sleep, workers who are not meeting their employer’s expectations of performance, people with obsessions, fears, anger, frustration and lack of motivation. We meet people from all walks of life who are limiting their potential to succeed and be brilliant in all types of situations because they are experiencing incongruence.

When people are under stress because of difficulties arising at work, the mind has the ability to put any problems they are experiencing behind a veil. Doing so allows the person to fool themselves into thinking everything is okay. However, when they mask negativity, they also mask positive attributes such as energy, focus and clarity.

You can create a smokescreen for your thought processes for only so long. Then, something has got to give. What gives may be your behaviour. When you are consistently working flat out to meet deadlines, stress accumulates in your body.

You may experience physiological changes due to the mind–body link. You may become tense and your breathing erratic. Your body will react to whatever changes your mind goes through and vice versa.

Your body will also give signals to other people. Even though you may be able to create a smoke screen and veil your problems in your own mind, others will intuitively know that something is incongruent. The only way to deal with this is to remove the veil of your thinking and create a change.

Continue Reading HERE

Source: iCN Issue 16 (NLP & Coaching); pages 27-30

JimmyPAbout Jimmy Petruzzi

Peak Performance Coach, Best Selling Author, Broadcaster & NLP Expert.

Jim has worked in many countries with successful people including Premiership Football teams, Top Athletes, Politicians, Businesses, Entrepreneurs, TV Celebrities, Teachers and Schools, helping them to achieve Peak Performance in all aspects of their lives using NLP.

Based in the UK, and abroad, Jim has implemented and transferred many of his unique and breakthrough concepts from athletic performance, to business and personal development with great success.

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