Published: 02/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5958 Page 31

If you find it hard to get your point across, the chances are you could do with some neurolinguistic programming. It is not as painful as it sounds - it studies the principles that link how people think and communicate and looks at these in the context of people's behaviour.

Tees and North East Yorkshire trust helped nine of its managers in its centre for learning, development and innovation do exactly this by commissioning a certification programme in neurolinguistic programming.

The managers wanted to enhance their communication skills in relation to specific challenges. Because they were working in roles that involved organisational change, there was a high learning need, whether for facilitation skills or a more pro-active leadership style.

At a personal level, the aims of the programme were aligned to professional goals. Many objectives were related to improved personal relationships through improved self-awareness and confidence.

The course involved 65 hours of face-to-face teaching over eight days. But before that, the delegates had to complete 65 hours of preparation.

Course assessment included a written integration paper on the material learnt, inter-course practical assessment of application of the learning, and feedback on the key learning points.

Most of the delegates identified greater awareness of communication processes, and their own effectiveness in influencing others. One said: 'I am more aware of my own language and non-verbal communication and feel better equipped to listen to what others are saying and how they are saying it.

'I now realise how much I already knew about, for example, change management and workload management.

I am more confident about when to suggest such techniques and, if I am asked for advice, how to do them .' The learning themes that proved most useful were the use of 'perceptual positions' (a training method that helps participants see things from others' viewpoints) and using positive language before and during change implementation.

There were further evaluations at three and six months. These found delegates had been much more pro-active in using the programme's material and had been creative in applying it in the workplace.

For some successful participants, the programme's teachings were already becoming second nature.