Michael Grinder: “To understand Russian, I need six visits to Russia!”

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A short interview of Michael Grinder by Irma Kaplan

In preparation for Michael Grinder’s upcoming training in Moscow, Russia (see here for more information), Sergey Igoshin’s informational partner Irma Kaplan asked Michael a few questions.  See his answers below!

Irma: Michael, are the ideas of Robert Dilts’ Sleight of Mouth left in the past for you?  Or do your methods complete the ones that Dilts offers?

Michael: Robert is one of my mentors in NLP, and NLP taught me how to model.  When I was trained in it, I was a teacher.  I found that most models of communication operate from the inside out – that is, “change the person’s internal state and they will operate differently externally.”  This was not appropriate for the educators I was training. Therefore, I switched to an “outside-in” model – change their behaviors and they change their self-image.

The second major adaptation from NLP that I did was moving the traditional style of one-on-one communication to the group setting that teachers deal with in their classrooms.

The third adaptation was to focus on Non Verbals instead of verbal communication.


Irma: How did NLP change you and your life?

Michael: The single most beautiful gift that NLP gave me was the ability to see and hear patterns of Non Verbal communication.


Irma: When, how, and why did you decide to study Non Verbal aspects of communication?  Why have you been finding it to be worth studying for 40 years?  What is so special about this subject?

Michael: Research indicates that somewhere above 80% of our communication is found in the Non Verbal aspects of the message.

I was training in West Berlin – the year before they tore down the wall – where I found and copied down a spray-painted message that said: “we are in love with the influence of power.  And we need to be in love with the power of influence.”  I have made a study of the difference between the Non Verbals of Power and the Non Verbals of Influence and when to use each.


Irma: What were the most surprising and unbelievable results of Non Verbal influence that you remember?

Michael: I have a commitment to studying communication and packaging patterns in such a way that other people can get results – not just myself. I openly tell people that to be a Non Verbal communicator at its highest level, you have to accept that you’re in the business of manipulation.  But the manipulation is with the control of your own eyes, voice, body, and breathing. There’s some days I cannot manipulate myself as well as I can on other days.  To summarize: “I manipulate myself to influence others.”


Irma: Could you share with us 2-3 examples of situations when you yourself were amazed by the outcomes which proved to you the efficiency of your method and showed that it could give people magic and super-power?

Michael: The most advanced level of Non Verbal communication has been perception.  To teach perception, I use a model that I call the “Circles of Humanness.”  The first impression people have of each other is “appearance,” which is replaced in a few minutes with “behavior.”  The third circle is “style,” the fourth circle is “values” and the inside circle is called “core identity.”  I have discovered 14 behavioral moments (the second circle) when the individual reveals to you their “style” and “values.”  That has been the most amazing thing – to be able to package this approach so that other people can be more respectful of the people that they communicate with.


Irma: What are the differences of Non Verbal Communication that you noticed while working in different continents?  Could you please give us an example to illustrate the fact that Non Verbal Communication differs from place to place, just like the languages? Or, on the contrary, demonstrate the fact that there are no differences, and that after studying the basic nuances one can become a friend to every stranger without any words)?

Michael: Each culture has different baselines: The Northern Germans gesture very close to their torso and sometimes just with their fingers; Bavarians gesture, at most, with their elbows at their side; people in Mediterranean culture extend their arms out from their torso so that the elbows can be straight.

Once the baseline of each culture is understood, all of our 21 patterns of Non Verbal Communication can be applied.  For example, let’s look at voice patterns.  The Northern Germans have a flat voice and Mediterranean cultures have a rolling voice.  We know that the flat voice, referred to as credible, sends information; while the rolling voice, called approachable, elicits information or increases dialogue.  With the establishment that Northern Germans have a flat voice, we can now say that those who have the least flat voice are the more approachable ones.  With the Mediterraneans, the person with the least rolling voice is the more credible person.  In summary, establish the cultural baseline and then the 21 patterns of Non Verbal Communication apply.


Irma: While organizing your Russian training, did you study any special features of the Russian Non Verbal Communication?  If so, what materials did you use (movies, news, communication with Russian friends)?

Michael: When learning a new culture, the number one skill is to suspend any interpretation of what you see.  I find it takes me six visits before I can even start to approximate accurate interpretations.  This will be my second visit to Russia so I will be observing.


Irma: Do you know anything about Russian NLP and its representatives?  If so, what is your opinion?  What do your colleagues who have already been to Russia with trainings say about Russian students, their main requests and difficulties?

Michael: I hope to meet people of the Russian NLP community.  I look forward to my learning.


Irma: What are the main differences of Non Verbal patterns for communication with 1-2 persons and an audience of 100-1000 people?  Are there a lot of such differences?  Are they significant?

Michael: The number one variable when moving from one-on-one communication to group communication is the ability to increase your peripheral sight… you have to be able to see where you are not looking.  Secondly, groups can be categorized by the following variables: “unformed”, “formed and functional”, “temporarily dysfunctional”, “chronically dysfunctional”, and “healthy”.

Group dynamics can be understood through the symbol of a triangle.  A triangle has three sides; it is the strongest geometric shape we have because pressure on one side is felt equally by the other two sides.  The top corner is the person-in-charge, the bottom left corner represents the individuals, and the bottom right is the group as a whole.  By using the four categories just mentioned, the person-in-charge has more options in terms of when to facilitate, when to support, when to manage, and when to discipline.


Irma: Why are you coming to Russia with your training program this year?  Is it because you have time for international trainings, or do you believe it is the right time now for this particular training?  Or are there any other reasons that made you plan your first Russian Trainining for Summer 2016?

Michael: As a true social scientist, I try to disprove all the models and patterns that I packaged.  Coming to the Russian culture will help me figure out which patterns need to be altered so that cross-cultural communication can be better understood. We do need to speak and understand each other’s languages; yet peace is often times found when we respect each other’s Non Verbal customs.


Irma: In your perspective, what are the differences between American, European, and Russian NLP-models?

Michael: Setting aside NLP, American culture tends to believe in the individual to make a huge difference.  The European culture of leadership tends to believe that the system can make a difference.  I’m still waiting to learn about the Russian model of leadership.


Irma: Do people who want to attend your training in June need any “base” (knowledge of psychology, NLP-trainings) to do it?

Michael: There are advantages and disadvantages to knowing NLP when you attend one of my programs.  For example, the people trained in NLP – and those who know my last name – will wonder why I do not use language like “anchoring” and instead use “long-term memory.”

Contact Irma

Email: irmakaplan@ya.ru

Website: http://irmakaplan.ru/

Interview also posted on this site.

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