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Independents' Day

Career coach - Neurolinguistic programming

Dr Pam Brown looks at a technique that can help busy GPs.

Dr Pam Brown looks at a technique that can help busy GPs.

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is a toolkit for ‘modelling excellence' and can be used to improve communication skills and facilitate personal change and development.

• There are four pillars of NLP:

– Building rapport – improving the way we interact with patients and colleagues.

– Developing sensory awareness – using all the senses to take in information from our environment.

– Outcome thinking – starting with a clear idea of our goal.

– Behavioural flexibility – doing something different when what we are doing isn't working.

• People have preferred thinking styles or representational systems. They are:

– kinaesthetic – using ‘feeling' words (eyes tend to look down)

– visual – using ‘seeing' words (eyes look up)

– auditory – using ‘hearing' words (eyes look sideways).

• NLP can be used to improve rapport with patients. You should use representational system words and subtly match the patient's posture, breathing pattern and voice characteristics.

When you are ready to finish a consultation, breaking this rapport sends a clear message to the patient's unconscious that the discussion is over.

• Representational systems can influence learning styles – visual people enjoy PowerPoint and flip charts, auditory people prefer to listen, and kinaesthetic people learn best by doing things.

When giving a talk or lecture, use all three representational systems to build rapport and get the whole audience involved. Use different types of media and allow the more kinaesthetic people to be hands on.

• When setting goals for yourself or for patients, use the ‘well-formed outcome' questions:

– Is it stated in the positive?

– Is it self-initiated and within my control?

– How will I know when

- I have achieved it? What will I see, feel and hear?

– Where, when and with whom do I want to achieve it?

– What resources are needed? Do I have these or can I get them?

– Why do I really want this? Is it compatible with the rest of my life?

– What is the first step?

• When you feel happy or confident, anchor these states by squeezing the thumb and little finger of one hand together. Doing this repeatedly builds a strong anchor to this hand movement, which you can consciously ‘fire off' to recreate the state again in the future.

Dr Pam Brown is a GP in Swansea

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