6 Simple NLP Tools Top Negotiators of Conflicts Taught Me


As an NLP trainer I have trained specialists in negotiation in places conflicts on 4 different levels:

  • People who manage or negotiate conflict representing countries or organizations. The people who negotiate guns for lives.
  • People who manage conflicts in the business arena.
  • People who manage and negotiate conflicts in people personal or romantic lives.
  • Lawyers at all levels from small town divorce attorney’s to those who work for the International Criminal Court (ICC, war tribunals in The Hague in The Netherlands.)

I had the privilege to not only teach them negotiation and conflict management but also to learn from them. And get inside their head. To use NLP, to find out what NLP they are already (naturally and unconsciously) using.

NLP tool 1: Dissociate

There are two things that I heard all top negotiators I have trained say; one of them is the ability to dissociate. Meaning you step out of any emotions you have.

You do this by imagining you are floating your mind out of your body, and you see yourself. The you over there is experiencing these emotions.

Physically you can do this by:
Take a deep breath, and count to 10 (this scientifically is proven to help.)
Step away from situation/location briefly.

NLP tool 2: Proper use of Association

The second tool they all mention is checking for association which is the opposite of dissociation. This is about what you are seeing, hearing, and also feeling. The point is whatever feeling I have must be neutral. I can not be on any side.

Professional negotiators do not work with people they know or thing close to their hearts.

The rule:
You do not negotiate if you are personally involved.

NLP tool 3: Perceptual Positions

You could consider association, the first perceptual position (self.)

The second perceptual position relates to another person. What are they seeing, hearing, feeling, and believing? What is that they are after? Need? What is important to them? What is not (as) important to them? What is the bottom line?

When you negotiate or manage a conflict, you need to understand in detail what each party is after. And when you don’t know, you interview them to find out.

Dissociation is the third perceptual position which we already covered.

The 4th perceptual position is about what a group is after. This is not just the group of party 1, or party 2. Are both parties part of a large group? For example, a divorcing couple may be pat of a larger group called family, including children. Or, when two parties argue, an entire continent could be affected.

The fifth perceptual position is the god view, the greater good, a space of love, oneness. This is an important piece; sometimes, the answer is in spirituality or a sense of wanting to do the right thing.

You travel all these perceptual positions, not just on the spot. This is how you prepare.

NLP tool 4: Asking Questions & Chunking-Up

The most frequently used questions, to figure out what each party is after can also be found in NLP.

The question: what specifically?

But not necessarily to get more details, but what it is that they get through having their way. If a country wants arms, it may not be about the weapons but the feeling of safety. And when a mother wants 100% custody, she may be afraid to lose her children or for them to not be raised properly. Or for her to be alone. Rather than believing they are in danger.

A good question is:
What specifically is that you get through having…….?

NLP tool 5: Using Neutral Language

Meaning, dissociated language. That aren’t propelled by emotions, that lead to critical thoughts and judgments.

For example, rather than:
“You are always late.”

“Our daily appointments start at 9, this week you twice showed up at 9.30.”

Instead of:
“You never do anything on the weekend. I have to do everything. You are a failure.”

“You played golf every Saturday and Sunday the last 3 months, she did all the house chores, shopping, and took care of the children and was unable to leave the house.”

NLP tool 6: Using the Milton Model

This relates to chunking-up. Rather than trying to get people to agree on the details, meaning apples. Maybe get them to agree on “healthy food.” Rather than getting people to agree right off the bat how many days each get to have the children after a divorce. To first have them agree, what they want for themselves and the kids that is more higher level, happiness for the kids and happiness for themselves. And happiness for the kids can only be achieved, if both parents are happy and in their lives.

Clearly, top negotiators who work with conflicts use many more tools, but these are the most important ones I found between them.