Sue France details some of the tools that she has learnt about in her journey to become an NLP practitioner

From 2002 to 2009 I was working as a PA to a successful international motivational speaker and a Master Practitioner in NLP, Bill Docherty MBE. It was whilst working with Bill that my curiosity for NLP started me on a fascinating journey. I learned a lot from Bill through helping him put his presentations together, organising and attending his seminars and allowing him to practice on me! After Bill nominated me and I won the Times Crème DHL PA of the Year Award, both Bill and I were asked to present together as executive and assistant at conferences abroad and in the UK.

I have recently been studying for my NLP Practitioner Certificate after successfully completing my diploma. I have found it extremely insightful and helpful in helping to build relationships, give presentations, communicate effectively, motivate myself and others, think positively and create actions that make a difference.

Here are just a few of the NLP tools that you can learn from and use in your everyday life at home and at work.


Match and mirror your body language as well as your verbal language with your boss and those around you to help build successful relationships. Is your boss a visual person who may say things like “I see what you mean” or auditory who says things like “I hear what you are saying” or kinaesthetic who says things like “I feel that this will work”? Subtly use the same language and body language and build rapport quickly and easily.


Focus on the positive steps needed to achieve your goals and objectives. What is important to you? What will you and others gain when you achieve it? They should be stated positively, be clearly defined, and make sure you have the resources you need. Use “SMARTER” goal setting – Specific, Measurable, Agreed (with boss), Realistic, Timed, Evaluate goals and Revise them when appropriate. Think about what will happen when you achieve it.


NLP states “if what you’re doing isn’t working then do it differently”. Modify your behaviour if things are not going the way you want. You can spend a lot less energy on changing yourself than trying to change someone else. The bonus is that you will find that when you change your behaviour – others start to change theirs. “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got!”

There is No Failure, Only Feedback

Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes have setbacks in what they are trying to achieve. People need to realise that all they need to do, is to take the learning you have taken from the feedback or setback and learn from those mistakes to move forward and help you to be even better at whatever it is. Some people perceive that they have failed and become disheartened when in fact it is just a learning curve and these experiences will help you develop.

Your ‘World’ is Different From Mine!

“The Map is not the Territory” – NLP teaches that you process information in your own little world inside your own head. A different person experiencing the same event or meeting as you will have interpreted and perceived things differently from you. We all take millions of pieces of information into our brains at any one time from what is going on in the environment we are in, to what someone is saying and how you interpret it and what is going on in the background etc, we filter these pieces of information as we take them all in and we either distort, generalise or delete information and we all do it differently from each other.

When you understand that other people have a different experience from you (a different map of the world), you should be flexible and try to understand and empathise with their point of view and your rapport will be greater. When you have rapport, you can learn how to talk to them, how to present ideas and how to persuade and influence.

The Meaning of Communication is in the Response You Get

We all have to communicate and how well we communicate is directly linked to how successful we are. It is imperative that an assistant communicates with his/her boss and takes 100% responsibility for getting their point across. Whatever a PA says or a boss says it will affect the way each other respond.

Misunderstanding in communication happens a lot and causes conflict and problems. Therefore we have to communicate verbally and non-verbally in a way that produces the results we are looking for and look for congruence between non-verbal and verbal communication. People will respond to what they think you mean, which may be an accurate or inaccurate interpretation of your intended meaning. Check to see if they misunderstood not only what you said but what you meant as well.

People Are Much More Than Just Their Behaviour

Martin Luther King once said “I’m talking about a type of love that will cause you to love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does”. The point is that behaving badly does not make someone a bad person. Separating the behaviour from the person is really important. People can behave badly when they don’t have the inner resources or ability to behave differently in that instance. It is possible they find themselves in a situation that prevents them from being the best they can be. When your boss is behaving badly say to yourself “Don’t take it personally!”

The Mind and Body Affect Each Other

Your mind and body interact and mutually influence each other. It is not possible to make a change in one without the other being affected. When we think differently, our bodies change. When we act differently we change our thoughts and feelings. Therefore if you want to feel confident – find out what your confidant stance is. For example, for me I have my head up, shoulder back, stand with strong planted legs, breathing comes from the abdomen and my arms feel strongly and are slightly away from my body with palms facing forwards. When I take on the stance which is confident for me, my mind will believe my body and I will feel confident! Try it for yourself!

Modelling Successful Performance Leads to Excellence

Share knowledge with each other and do not reinvent the wheel. If one person can do something it is possible to model it and teach it to others. In this way everyone can learn to get better results in their own way, you do not become a clone of the model – you learn from them. Learn from people you admire either through job shadowing, taking on a mentor or coach or attending seminars and workshops.

Individuals Have All the Resources They Need to Achieve Their Desired Outcome

This means that we all have the capability and potential to grow and develop. It may be that we have to go externally to get help in developing ourselves but we are capable of seeking out resources to achieve our goals.

Enabling and Limiting Beliefs

Our beliefs can be positive and enabling or negative and limiting. For success your beliefs should be enabling and saying to yourself “I can do that”; “I’m good at”; “let me have a go” and “being different is good” etc. Our beliefs are formed unconsciously and have been formed throughout our lives and some have come from our experiences, from our parents, and our teachers etc. As soon as you identify the negative beliefs that are limiting, you can change them.

For example, if you want to go to networking meetings but you are afraid to walk into a meeting room full of strangers on your own, it is probably because your parents told you “Don’t talk to strangers!” when you were a child. This thought then creeps unconsciously into your mind when you think about attending a meeting full of strangers. My tip to you is to tell yourself that now you are grown up and no longer a child it is okay to talk to strangers, in fact, it is good to talk to strangers, to network, share knowledge and enjoy yourselves.

Sue France FCIPD/INLPTA is passionate about the development of all Assistants, having been one for over 30 years. She has owned her own training company since 2009 working in over 36 countries with thousands of assistants, both face-to-face and virtually ... (Read More)

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