PNL – Article “NLP and employability”

By Isabelle David

In the 1970s, at the University of Santa Cruz in California, Richard Bandler, psychologist and John Grinder, linguist, founded the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), an approach that allows us to change our perspectives towards a conflict situation or when facing a new challenge.

It’s a fact that these situations are common in the field of employability: young dropouts, single mothers, official immigrants, ex-prisoners, 45 years & older, layoffs, etc.

The limitative beliefs of the clients and some non-helping attitudes represent additional difficulties to their reinsertion and hiring. These beliefs can appear through the use of some expressions, limiting their capacity of being hired and their level of hope:

– « I am too old »
– « I don’t speak English »
– « I don’t have experience in Quebec »
– «The employer doesn’t pay much, he is a profiteer »

But then, how should we use, get round or even change these expressions in order to help the clients achieve their objectives? Whether true or false, they do limit the clients because they have an impact on job interviews, e.g. as creative predictions, i.e. as a true reality because « I predict it and make it happen ». These self-realizing prophecies prevent achieving results and limit the clients with their possibility of assuring themselves to find work.

Besides, to complicate things a little bit more, as per Rosenthal & Jacobson’s study, the Rosenthal effect, i.e. our own creative predictions towards the clients determine our unconscious behaviors towards them. So, if I think it is going to be difficult to find a job for my client, I will act accordingly without having to say a word… Chances of finding this client a job will diminish accordingly.

This study shows that school results are influenced whether teachers believe that their students are from enriched or regular levels. Students of enriched level, but whom teachers believed they were from regular levels, saw their grades go down compared to a grade increase for the regular level students, for whom teachers believed that they were of enriched level. What we think of our clients, whether true or false, plays a big part in their job search outcomes.

It is true that some clients are more difficult to place than others, but the following expressions coming from intervening persons do not make the task much easier:

– « This person won’t be easy »
– « We’ll have to watch him »
– « He’s going to drain me »
– « He’s going to quit »
– « He’s going to disturb »
– « He does not have what it takes for the job he’s looking for »
– « He’s not realistic regarding the money »
– « He won’t be able to make phone calls »

In order to help us understand the support we can offer to our client, we must be more conscious of our own beliefs and attitudes. This will assist us in assessing the energy needed for the situation, in assessing our comfort or discomfort zone and the unconscious messages sent to the client. If the client has many limitative beliefs, our task will be more demanding if we also express self-realizing prophecies towards this person. How can we hope to change the client’s limitative beliefs if we also have this kind of beliefs towards him or her? In fact, we can change easily our own attitudes towards a client in recognizing, for example, that this client already has the resources he needs to be successful, even if they are still hidden in the unconscious. This basic presupposition of NLP allows us to see the client as a person with abilities, strengths, resources and a great potential that lie within himself, and that they will help him to find a new job.

We must guide the client from his current situation to the desired one, called current state and desired state in the field of NLP. In order to support and to advise the client, we shall avoid questions related to the « why », to the past and to problems, because they often create justification with a feeling of being accused. We will favour questions on « how », based on future, solutions and empowering actions. Instead of asking the client « Why don’t you have a job yet? », we could ask him to talk about the present situation and about the steps taken as of today. Then, continue with questions like « From your point of view, what do you think is preventing you from finding a job up until now? », « Inform me of what you need in order to get a job » and, in conclusion, after a conversation, « Let’s take a look together at which employment type would be more suitable to your abilities and resources.»

We will also use reframings of limitative beliefs by reformulating them with questions, such as:

Employers are “back-stabbers”

– « What makes you say that? »
– « How do you explain this? »
– « What does the word “back-stabber” mean to you? »
– « Do you think all employers are like that? »
– « What are your expectations from an employer? »
– « What is your definition of a good employer? »
– « Do you know someone who has a good employer? »
– «Have you ever had a good employer? or a good work experience? »
– «What would you do if you were an employer? »
– «Would there be other employers that would act like you? »

By reformulating with questions, the client will be able to find in his own words the counterexamples and opposite justifications of his first belief. If he responds that he would be a good nonprofiteer employer, it’s because he then agrees that it’s possible to find a boss like him. The door is open to ‘shake’ a non-helping belief and to avoid creating a negative projection at the time of the interview. If my belief is that my future boss wants to abuse me, I will act accordingly at the time of the interview. But, if I believe that he may be different from the others, then my chances of having a great interview and getting the job will increase. And not to mention that I may keep this job for a longer period of time, now having a good boss.

NLP in the field of employability helps to reformulate our attitudes and beliefs and helps to achieve our work objectives. From awareness to simple reformulation, this approach is an additional tool for any intervening person involved with a discouraged, frustrated and disabused clientele, having little hope of finding a job.

To learn more about this approach you can read « Être au coeur de la PNL », éditions Quebecor and « Des mots et des phrases qui transforment. La PNL appliquée à l’éducation » éditions Chenelière/ McGraw-Hill.

Isabelle David, NLP Master Trainer from INLPTA and ISNLPT / SIEPNL


Note : Ces articles sont disponibles pour diffusion. Si vous souhaitez publier un ou des article(s) d’Isabelle David dans un journal, périodique, magazine, etc., veuillez nous contacter. Merci. / Those articles are available for diffusion. If you wish to publish articles written by Isabelle David please contact us for permission. Thank you.