NLP and Human Resources

If you have been following this series then by now you have probably, like me, come to realise the great many benefits that an understanding of NLP can bring to every area of business.  Human Resources is no exception and here you will find some of the major tools that participants from the world of HR on my NLP programmes take away.


A key area of responsibility for HR professionals is the dissemination of information, often sensitive and confidential.  One of the first skills developed on the journey of NLP is that of skilful and elegant communication.  By studying specific language patterns, such as the Milton Model and Meta Model, one is able to craft documents, letters, e-mails, presentations etc in such a way as to ensure clarity and understanding whilst also, where desired, influencing the mindset of the recipient.


About six months ago, I spent a day with a client organisation, exploring different areas of the business and much of my day was spent in the company of a Manager from the HR Team.  One thing that came across very clearly to me was the amount of planning that went on in that office – recruitment, assessment, inductions, performance reviews, training schedules, holiday cover, budgeting, the list went on and on.  I remember thinking how much easier they would find it once we had spent some time together on their NLP Practitioner programme as it would help them to develop a range of skills for objective and effective planning – as well as resolving problems before they became problems.  When we met two months after the programme, I was informed that, by their calculation, they were saving around three hours per week each just by being able to plan more effectively using some of the skills and techniques they had learned.


All of the HR professionals that I know spend a large percentage of their time in direct contact with people – internal to the organisation, prospective employees, external service providers etc – and that means building effective relationships that work for both parties.  The Rapport skills that we teach on my NLP Practitioner programmes enable relationships to be kick-started smoothly, giving a firm foundation upon which to build.  This is done through understanding that NON-verbal communication is just as important as the verbal kind and often has a greater impact, particularly when connection is short as in interviews.  One of my past students wrote telling me how she uses her Rapport skills to put interview candidates at ease very quickly, thus enabling her to ask more searching questions and really get “inside” the interviewee.

Assessment and Selection

A key area of HR work these days, and one in which some of my friends are constantly engaged, is that of Assessment and Selection.  Organisations are keen to employ people on a right-fit basis through understanding competencies and personality and, for those already in the family, to have those people in the right role.  One area of NLP that helps tremendously with this is the understanding of Values and Metaprogrammes.

Values – at an individual level, this is about what inspires and drives a person.  When all things are equal, what will make them want to go the extra mile, to work the extra few hours, to commit for more than money?  Once you understand the individual’s values, you can then look at how they fit (or not) with those of the team and the organisation.  I have come to realise that much of the stress experienced by people is caused through values conflicts. Part of the NLP journey involves coming to understand our own Values and how they can interact with others to create lasting relationships – or not.

Metaprogrammes – an area of NLP that has long fascinated me is that of this set of filters in our unconscious mind that work on the way in which we perceive our world and how we make things “fit” our model.  The simplest demonstration of this is the half-full Vs half-empty glass.  Some people see the glass as half full and we are often told that this is “good” because its “positive thinking”.  Others, however, may notice a half-empty glass and we are told this is “bad” and “negative”.  The simple fact is that both versions are correct. If the glass IS half full then it IS half empty.  Neither is good or bad, right or wrong.  It’s simply how the observer notices things.  This is just one of a number of these “filters” that can impact on how we perceive the world, communicate, make decisions, prioritise, give or receive feedback, solve problems and much more.  Participants in my NLP programmes quickly learn to see others with a whole new pair of eyes and to recognise them for what they are – individuals with great strengths that can be utilised very effectively.

Personal Development Planning

All of the above can be brought into play in the matter of creating individual Personal Development Plans.  In seeking to capitalise on their investment in the resource we call “people”, organisations are, more and more, becoming involved in creating Personal Development Plans for employees.  This brings several key benefits:

  • Greater involvement of staff
  • Morale and motivation is enhanced because people feel valued and noticed
  • Organisations benefit from enhanced performance and realisation of potential
  • Lower staff turnover means longevity, better performance and, of course, financial saving

How to do this? Develop the people you have.  Look at the areas above and you quickly realise that NLP will not only lead to better performance; it will also bring reduced costs.

Giving and receiving Feedback

I ceased, some time ago, to be surprised by the number of participants on my NLP Practitioner programmes who include Feedback as one of the best skills they developed.  The reason for this is that I have, over the years, witnessed feedback that has ranged from elegant to downright demonic with one instance where I actually witnessed a brawl between two men because one of them had given some “direct” feedback and the other had taken exception – with extreme prejudice.

I teach my students a range of models for giving feedback so that they may choose an appropriate style for the situation.  These may include day-t0-day feedback, dealing with a first-time unuseful behaviour, repeat “offenders” and those who’s behaviour may be better defined as “disruptive”.  I also share ways in which to receive feedback, handling those who give it elegantly and those who’s style is rather less friendly.

There is no doubt that effective and elegant feedback is a major tool in most areas of a business and HR is no exception.


These are just some of the areas of Human Resources Management that are enhanced by the use of NLP.  There are others and I’d be delighted to hear from readers who have used NLP successfully in business, whatever area.