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Who's familiar with NLP?

The Excellent Trainer: Putting NLP to work, Di Kamp - Gower, 1996

Successful communication through NLP: A Trainer's Guide,
Sally Dimmick - Gower, 1995

Inspirational Training, Ron Cartey - Gower, 1996

Review by Mark McKergow

A collection of training and NLP-related titles from arch-training publisher Gower form the basis of our business book review this issue. All these books are about successful training, and two of them are overtly about applying NLP to training. How do they match up? The covers of one of these books make the claim that "most trainers are familiar with the principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming" - we'll also see how these books substantiate that claim.

Di Kamp's book, according to its blurb, "shows how NLP technicques can be directly applied to the business of training." Not a promising start, but fortunately the actual book is rather more helpful than it might appear. Kamp aims at those already engaged in training, and seeks to position training as enabling learning to happen, rather than as providing information. Interestingly, she also thanks John Grinder in the preface - not a frequent act, in these days of rampant Bandlerism.

The book proceeds through the Context for training (a nice outline of the presuppositions of NLP and their impact, different learning styles, etc), and examines an "excellent"trainer (in particular self-beliefs). We then look at the training process, through phases of preparation (her suggestion to develop learning activities to include V, A and K elements could be usefully followed by some NLP trainers!), implementation and follow-up. Kamp concludes with a look the developing trainer - including self development and time management.

The book contains about 10 self-development activities, and is an excellent and thought-provoking examination of the frontier between NLP and training, with some good ideas and a clear exposition. My concern (as usual, sigh the regular readers...) is the rather dense text presentation, with scarcely a picture insight. In this case, this might affect the usefulness of the book- I can think of quite a few trainers who would benefit a great deal from reading the book, but would be unlikely to get past the contents page before they wrote it off as too heavy to bother with. Which is a great shame, as Di Kamp has produced a good and vaulable work.

Sally Dimmick's "Successful Communication Through NLP" takes a different route. After the usual preamble about "what is NLP", with the usual eye movements and unreferenced verbal and non-verbal communication statements, Dimmick takes Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic in turn and examines ways to use the modality in training work. Within this framework Dimmick produces a lot of solid work on various aspects of training, with many useful, if rather didactically presented, ideas and tips. The material is variously applicable - I for one won't be taking too seriously her suggestion that more than three colours in a picture are distracting (sorry Vincent, too many colours mate....stick to blue, red and green if you wanna be a success, you mark my words...).

The book is better laid out than Di Kamp's, with simple graphics interspersing the text. There are exercises at the end of each chapter, and the book has a more user-friendly feel. Having said that, it's not really about NLP at all. It's about some useful tips in using VAK in training. And what mention is there of responding to learners in this guide to successful communication - why, none, of course. Dimmick has a one-way view of communication, and that alone is reason to pass on as quickly as possible.

Ron Cartey's "Inspirational Training" makes noclaim to be an NLP book. It's very much an experienced trainer who has noticed what works for him, and has written it down. For Cartey, the trainer's role is "to inspire the learner to apply what they learned", which sounds reasonable to me.

Cartey starts off with a section on "bio-rapport",which makes no particular reference of rapport as NLPers know it, but rather seeks to focus on winning acceptance as a professional. Some of his ideas are useful, others ("always do up your jacket") less so. Body language is covered in the outdated (and now getting rarer, thank goodness) way of examining which gestures are domineering, which are submissive. I must say that this sort of thing makes me glad to be using NLP in my work, rather than other schools of communication theory.

Cartey progresses to "communication that works" - ie some forms of communication he's found to work, including logical presentation and subliminal influencing. The latter topic ranges from some simple language patterns (useful) to different handshakes communicating different things (twaddle). He finishes off with some views on helping learners to learn, including relaxation and goal setting.

I found this quite an interesting book - in that it offers a well-written description of what works for this author, who has some relatively unconventional ideas. It might make interesting reading to anyone (and there seem to be quite a few) who are setting out to model excellent trainers.

So, on the basis of these three books, are "most trainers familiar with the principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming"? Many of the trainers I come across who are not NLP-trained (and sad to say some that are) would indeed claim that they know about NLP. They then tell me about VAK and eye movements. I think there's a lot of work for us to do in getting as a more useful message about NLP across to the wider audience, and people who write books about VAK and eye movements aren't helping. In my view, Di Kamp comes closest to the useful message by some way.