An excerpt from ‘Secrets of the NLP Masters‘ due out at the end of the month and full of bite size NLP wisdom.
Chapter 45. The importance of other people’s opinions
“Team leaders can motivate the people in their teams especially well when they understand the referencing that each member of the team uses. It becomes a great deal easier to create meaningful feelings for the members of a team when you know what matters to them.” David Ferrers
“The best style is to have an internal reference with an external check. That is, we use our own values, beliefs, visions; outcomes etc. as our stabilizing gyroscope and regularly look outside of ourselves to see how it fits with the world of others and the state of knowledge. We then feel centered in ourselves, in our values, standards, beliefs, understandings, visions, goals etc. and then fully open and responsive to information and perceptions outside of ourselves.” Steve Jabba
“How sensitive you are to other people’s opinions and feedback determines how much you are affected by the achievement culture. “ Joseph O’Connor
“Have you ever noticed a person who, when making a suggestion in a meeting, glances in the direction of someone from whom they are seeking approval? It may not be the person to whom they are making the suggestion but it is the person whose feedback and acknowledgment they rely on for feedback on how they are doing.” Sue Knight
“To identify whether your children are internal or external ask them a question such as ,”At school, how do you know you’ve written a good essay?” An internal child may say, “I just know or it feels right.” An external child may say, “My teacher needs to give me a good mark, say nice things or smile at me.” Roger Ellerton
We seem to be in age where other people’s opinions almost garner more importance than our own as we seek out Facebook Likes, Follows on Twitter and other Social Media and huge list of contacts on our mobile phone. As soon as there is a decision to make we can be sharing it with friends and ‘googling’ options. This is called being externally referenced and it is an option; the other being internally referenced. They both lie on a continuum and it is for you to decide where you want to operate depending on the situation or decision in hand.
Being internally referenced means that we go inside ourselves to interpret how we feel, what we want to do, how to respond or decide. An externally referenced person would instead, ask someone else for advice if they were auditory, notice other people’s reactions if they were visual and sense their reactions if they were kinaesthetic. This is rather a sliding scale rather than being bipolar. In some situations we might look to others for a response whereas in some situations, perhaps when and where we feel more confident, we would rely on our own judgement and decision making ability. If however you find yourself regularly at one end of the scale or the other it might be refreshing to consider being more flexible.
We make decisions based on our interpretation of the situation. As something happens we filter it in various ways. We may delete parts of what happened based on whether we tend to focus on what we see, hear or feel. We also tend to respond according to the language that is used. Perhaps the way something was communicated really annoyed you or the tone sounded offensive or it was spoken so fast you couldn’t quite follow it or so quietly you struggled to hear it.
It also gets distorted when we assume intentions that may not be there, almost mind-reading the situation. Then we might generalize, telling ourselves that this ‘always happens’ or that ‘no-one ever takes any notice of what we say’. The next filter that comes into play is that we set the event against our values and beliefs about what is important to us, what is right and what is wrong. These come from our upbringing and experiences in life which constantly change but core values tend to remain constant. Around most subjects we have acquired attitudes from reading and discussions which have built a fund of knowledge which we can apply to the event that has occurred. Again attitudes are constantly changing as we meet new people and learn new things and this event is part of the learning process.
Past experiences and memories also play a part in forming our response to this event as we recall what happened in the past and whether you want to repeat the process this time or do something different.
People who are internally referenced go through these processes to interpret events and on the basis of the internal processing they then respond with little regard to the opinions of others. This can result in a rather abrupt, even rude response which might even be hurtful but those who are internally referenced won’t be so concerned about that aspect. When you are externally referenced little processing takes place, instead other people’s opinions are sought through various means such as posting on Social Media, texting, asking immediately ‘what do you think’ or waiting to see what others do and following. Whilst in some situations this latter approach may be workable it doesn’t encourage any independent thought or feeling which means that you may be unprepared for situations when this is required.
As a parent we forget, however old our children are, that they have an opinion. Even parents of grown up children with children of their own can sometimes internally reference because the relationship being parent/child, this is what they’re used to. This is sometimes how young people get to be so externally referenced because no-one has ever encouraged them to make their own mind up.
When our parents were children themselves they had much more freedom from parental control and had to take responsibility for themselves in a way their own children can’t. If you have to get yourself to school and are used to playing in the street or unsupervised, you’re going to be much more aware of the implication of your actions.
However old you are, when communicating with others it is not OK to do the thinking for them. Instead work on building rapport and mutual respect by eliciting their opinions, expressing your own and being willing to sit in the middle of the internally/externally referenced scale where you learn from others and can be flexible and responsible.
Judy Bartkowiak is an NLP Trainer, Coach and Author. She can be contacted here