For several years I’ve been trying I’ve been trying to find a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) book that provided a simple and clear explanation of what it is and how it works. With “Relationships Made Easy for the Business Professional” – Dr David Fraser scores well on the first and not as well on the second.
The book’s strength comes from David’s practical business background which he uses to ground his writing and examples. The book fails when its attempting to explain how NLP works.
David describes a 12 step process to help
- Attention to others
- Attention to yourself
Most of the steps David describes make perfect sense and I’m trying to apply them. The book falls down when David attempts to explain why these ideas work:
Whenever you feel you have run out of mental flexibility, try some physical flexibility, such as a stretching exercise or moving around. Going for a walk when you have a problem to think about gets the left and right sides of your brain communicating. (location 1054)
While going for a walk is a great tactic when you’re blocked it has nothing to do with getting the left and right sides of brain to communicate. They’re going to do that not matter what. From David Rock’s, “Your Brain at Work”:
Stellan Ohisson, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. explains how when facing a new problem, people apply strategies that worked in prior experiences. This works well if a new problem is similar to an old problem. However, in many situations this is not the case, and the solution from the past gets in the way, stopping better solutions from arising. The incorrect state becomes the source of the impasse.
Handing the problem off to your unconscious by taking a walk or starting another activity is an effective approach. There are left/right brain distinctions but they have nothing to do with “blockages”. See, Elkhonon Goldberg “The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World” where he makes the claim that the left hemisphere deals with routine situations and right with novel. The details of what’s happens and the evidence to support the claim is several chapters long, so I won’t summarize it here.
David Fraser says:
If a meeting becomes strained, try having everyone move around. Use flexibility in the physical dimension to unblock the mental processes. A time-out” can actually speed up a meeting.
Again this might be a good idea but I’ve not seen any example of “blocked mental” processes in my reading nor a study that explains why movement might be effective when people are interacting in a meeting. The best discussion I’ve seen for our interactions comes from Rock’s, “Your Brain at Work” see Act III Collaborate with Others.
Finally Fraser says
Develop physical flexibility to increase your mental flexibility. Learning T’ai Chi, even at a very simple level, is one effective way of doing this.
I’ve not found any evidence yet about a relationship between physical and mental flexibility. In fact I’m not sure we really know how to characterize mental flexibility. The closest I can find is John Medina and Brain rules: “Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.” (brainrules.net). David Rock also has more on exercise and the effects on neurogenesis (grow new neurons). Finally there is some interesting evidence around meditation and its benefits (a quiet mind), but nothing to support the claims Fraser makes.
In a nutshell, an interesting book with many good ideas. However the flaws in the science make it difficult for me to read. I suspect I wasn’t the intended audience for the book. If you don’t mind these issues then you will find the book valuable.