Meet Michael Grinder

Difficult Beginnings | Exploration in Spirituality | Building a Career, Family, and Love |
A Company is Born | MissionReflections

Michael Grinder has authored 13 books, translated into 7 languages.

Michael Grinder is a master of, and world renown expert in, the power of influence — the science of non-verbal communication, non-verbal leadership, group dynamics, advanced relationship building skills and presentation skills.

After years of experience as a teacher, Michael has been speaking at conferences and conducting seminars on his areas of expertise across the world.

He has, for years, been seen as America’s educator of educators and is an expert on learning. His work with many education districts and schools has transformed the levels of teaching and learning.

Difficult beginnings

Raised outside Detroit by Jack and Eileen Grinder, Michael was born the second child out of 9 children. His earlier years were marked by sickness and setbacks – born with eczema, he suffered from earaches every winter and asthma every summer, requiring the family to spend the summer months living outside of Detroit.

Michael as a baby, with his mother Eileen.

Also plagued by dyslexia and ADHD, Michael ended up graduating high school at a 4th grade reading level.

Once out of high school, and attending a seminary that had no academic requirements, Michael spent the first two years of University studying to be a Catholic priest. He quickly became concerned that – due to his disorders, lack of sophistication and education – people would not listen to him from the pulpit.

To remedy this, Michael got ahold of the 100 most read novels by doctors and lawyers in America and began teaching himself to read. For two years, Michael woke up an hour before he was allowed to, snuck into a closet, and used the light inside to read. Despite finishing these great works of literature, Michael still prefers to write rather than read.

Exploration in spirituality

A young Michael at his typewriter.

His time in seminary was an opportunity for him to slow down and discover an inner space, a place of prayer and reflection.

Compared to his fellow seminarians, however, Michael felt that he’d never had a personal conversation with the Lord. Because of this, he thought he didn’t have a spiritual basis for being a priest. Additionally, priests are not allowed to get married, and Michael believed that he needed to be married to be a good teacher.

In his own words: “I knew in high school I wanted to be a teacher/coach. My teachers were priests, so in retrospect, I probably mixed up teaching with being a priest. When in seminary, I reflected on how most priests had great rapport with a class – almost a marital relationship – but they couldn’t hold the class accountable for fear of losing their primary relationship. I was convinced that, to be a good teacher, I had to have a primary relationship outside of school. This would allow me to hold the students accountable without feeling like I lost my primary relationship.”

Building a career, family, and love

Michael, Gail, and the family

The credits Michael earned in seminary were only transferable to a Catholic university, which meant he ultimately ended up at Loyola-Marymount University of Los Angeles.

At this university, Michael earned a BA, MA, and teaching credential. He became a student teacher in Watts and Compton in Los Angeles, then began teaching in southern California.

Around this time, Michael met the love of his life, Gail. The two fell in love and married. He moved up to the central Oregon coast and taught for 2 years, then settled the family in Battle Ground, WA where he taught for 6 years.

In 1979, Michael designed and built his home on a tree farm, which has been home for him and his family ever since. Michael and Gail have 3 children and 10 grandchildren, and spend the majority of their social time with family.

A company is born

Michael and Gail Grinder with their dog Mac.

The Michael Grinder & Associates office is on their property; it was a mom-and-pop operation for 30 years, but has grown now to a staff of 6 people. The stated purpose of Michael Grinder & Associates is to fulfill Michael’s dreams while he continues to stay in love with Gail. While Michael has talent, he claims he is successful because he compensates for his weaknesses.

Michael Grinder is the pioneer in teaching others how to perceive non-verbal communication in a group setting. He spent his life studying, dissecting and teaching the complexity that underlies all communication. He has developed a unique, new science of influence through non-verbal communication that is rich in practical, immediately applicable skills.

He was personally trained by two well-known experts in the field of communication: Carl Rogers, the wellspring of rapport and relationships, and Michael’s brother Dr. John Grinder, co-founder of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Michael is National Director of NLP in Education.

Mission of Michael Grinder

In a recent interview, Michael was asked about his “mission in life.” His immediate response:

  • Be in love with Gail (Michael’s wife)
  • Balance my life with relationships and work

Reflections (by Michael Grinder)

Michael spent his life studying, dissecting and teaching the complexity that underlies all communication.

You can find a distillation of 40 years of my applied research by watching my video House of Communication.

These are some of the things that I’m interested in right now: 

  • I’m fascinated by perception, how to understand and predict individuals, pairs, and group dynamic interactions
  • The differences in influence versus power
  • The differences in permission versus authority
  • Training design where coaching in one’s professional setting
    is a requirement of the program
  • The use of video taping to study timing and perception training
  • Design of courses for people meeting over a span of two years

One of my favorite quotes these days is…

“Quality of Feedback begins with
Quality of Observation.”