To be an effective NLP Practitioner requires the ability to ‘read’ the thought processes and emotional state of a client. Unfortunately, no two people are identical and no matter how skilled you become at the skills of observation and focus you cannot assume that what you know about one person works identically for the next.
Within NLP, Calibration is the process of learning how an individual processes the world in relation to your NLP knowledge. Matching an individuals behaviour to Eye Accessing Cues, or micro-expressions, an individuals perception of time and person spacing, preferred representation system and so on.
Before you can be effective with a client you need to Calibrate your awareness with their particular set of behaviours. The way an individual accesses memories, processes thought and emotions and experiences the world is unique. They are similarities, we all use (barring disability) our eyes to see, ear to hear and skin to feel and within that there are limitations that we, as human beings, have, but it is important to remember that these are similarities and not hard-and-fast rules that you can apply across the board.
Be a Keen Observer
Whenever you meet a client (or for that matter anyone with whom you are practicing NLP) you will need to build up your own internal map of how they process the world. As a Practitioner you will be aware of the NLP Eye Accessing Cues which you can use as a baseline for your calibration of their thought processes.
Their primary modality for representation can be deduced by listening to the language that they use and the way that they approach personal interactions. Watch for personal space issues and their placement in a room as this will also hint at their preferred style.
There are a whole host of attributes that you will need to consider when calibrating to a client some obvious, such as handedness, or breathing; some less so, detail orientation for example.
Calibration is an important part of the communication process, but it isn’t the communication itself and it should be kept in ming that calibrating is only part of the process and it can be easy to lose oneself in the process of measuring and lose sight of the main reason for the interaction.
A Word on Generalisations
Over the years a great deal has been taught about NLP and the various parameters about how people behave. Eye accessing cues, representation systems and the like have been transformed from what were originally Generalisations into what now appears to be ‘rules’.
When Richard Bandler & John Grinder began NLP training courses back in the 1970’s they made it very clear that their guidance were General-Lies-ations, they were not rules but observations made about groups of people that appeared to fit very well. Their ideas were never meant to be a ‘one-size fits all’ approach, and it was down to the practitioner to use their intelligence and experience to identify what worked and what didn’t with each client.
Calibration is the act of taking the knowledge of NLP and using your judgement and wisdom to make alterations to YOUR map of a client and not try and force them into a construct that you learned on a course.
To be the best practitioner you can be requires you to be flexible in your responses and approach to meet the needs of your client. You can’t do this until you alter your perceptions to their reality, and that is why Calibration is such an important part of the therapeutic interaction.