This is a great presupposition of NLP. Presupposition is a fancy way of saying that this is an assumption that we believe to be true in the field of NLP.


When I took linguistic classes my professor said, “If you ask for something and don’t get it, then you did not ask the right way.” In other words, there are simple and basic things that you can learn about communication. If you are attempting to communicate something that requires a response, the response becomes a measurement to the effectiveness of your communication.


For example, if you ask your kid to clean his room and he doesn’t, that is a clue. Something was missed in the communication. Now I have two kids. I love this example, because many parents practice an interesting strategy. They ask their kid to clean the room. And when they don’t, they ask louder in the exact same way.


Unfortunately saying something louder is not necessarily going to fix the issue. Have you ever been yelled at? How did that feel? Better or worse? (Hoping you said worse…)


So what am I saying? If I ask my son to clean his room and he doesn’t, I ask him what happened to cause him to skip it. Maybe something came up? Maybe he was doing homework? Or maybe he didn’t realize I meant now. If it is the last one, I will be more specific. “Go clean your room now please, and be done in one hour.”


If that doesn’t work, I will add in a wonderful motivation such as a threat to remove computer access.


What I won’t do is the same thing that I did before. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different response is the definition of insanity, right?


This also works with employees you manage. Why have the same meeting over and over? What about in relationships? One student in the Master Practitioner training I am teaching now said her husband doesn’t do something that she wished he did. I asked if she told him and she replied, “I give him more than enough hints.”


“Well, let me be blunt, your husband doesn’t seem like the type that gets the ‘hint thing.’” She laughed and said, “You are so right, he never picks up hints!”


I looked at her and said, “So you know he is hint-impaired, yet you choose to keep hinting something you want. Who has the problem here?”


She smiled and got it.


Yes, I do know that there are times where things can be deeper than that in a relationship. Why not change your approach and see if you get the response you want?


She did my suggestion that night, came in the next day, and had a great experience!


Next time you communicate with someone and want a specific response, then remember that their response is more important than the words you use. If you want a specific response and you don’t get it, change your communication. When you get the right response, celebrate! You did it!


Dr. Matt


Photo by kjunstorm