Forget Mind Reading, Calibrate Instead
Before being trained in NLP, I assumed straight away that I knew what state people were in.
“Why are you so grouchy?” I would ask.
“But I’m not grouchy!” They would reply.
“Yes you are! I can tell!” I would insist.
And this counter-productive dialogue would continue on and on until I gave up arguing, absolutely certain that I knew how they felt and knowing they weren’t admitting it.
How stupid of me.
During my very first NLP training, I learned that I absolutely cannot know what’s going on inside a person’s thoughts just by looking at their face.
Or maybe I can…
To do that, I first have to link up what they’re displaying on the outside to what’s happening on the inside. And to do that, I have to talk to them. There’s really no way around it.
So now, whenever I see a new face, I ask about it.
“What are you feeling right now?”
If I get an answer, bingo! I have now linked up the internal state to the external behavior.
What does that mean?
Anytime I notice that behavior (facial expression), I know what they are feeling. This is called calibration.
Of course, this principle works in any sensory channel. You can link a particular intonation to a specific state. You can also link the strength of a handshake to a specific state.
The key here is to use external behavior to monitor the internal experience of the person you’re interacting with.
With experience, you’ll be able to point out very specifically what the other person is processing.
I do this all the time with my wife. I’ll look at her and ask:
“Honey, why are you making so many calculations right now?”
She’ll look at me in disbelief (not any more now, she’s used to it) and scream:
“GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!!!!”
Calibration is undertrained and underestimated. It is one of the most critical skills you must develop to master NLP.
To further your calibration skills, get acquainted with the work of Eric Robbie and Rex Sikes — now known as The Amazing Rex. Rex’s mentalism work revolves around absolutely exquisite calibration skills, of which he is a master.
And the next time you notice a particular cue in someone — facial expression, voice tone, skin temperature — don’t assume you know what state they’re in. Ask. Then link up the two.