Recommended    Reading

Web Links



In this section you will find a range of interesting articles we have written . We've also Recommended some reading materials whichh Is a good place to start when finding out about NLP. Also below are connections to quality providers of complementary products and services.




Adding to your bottomline : The top 10 skills service industries most needs to develop

Pick up any recently written management book and you’ll quickly read about the difference between management and leadership. You’ll find lots of talk about management becoming softer, less hard-edged and more people centred. In this article trainer, facilitator and executive coach Helen Drake explains what is meant by soft skills, and gives a broad overview as to why they are important. In subsequent articles Helen will talk in more detail about each particular element, giving practical examples of what difference it makes when people have these skills.

To begin with, service industries provide their clients with a service. So we are talking about people as opposed to mass-produced widgets. Typically service industries use their resources to create ‘products’ to meet the needs of particular clients. So, given that the people costs are amongst the highest element in the management budget, surely that gives us a clue. Yes, people really are a company’s most important asset. Try implementing any strategy without people and you’ll soon find out just how important people are. The search for corporate excellence leads inevitably to excellent people – all of whom are individuals.

Broadly soft skills divide neatly into two categories. Firstly how you communicate with yourself and others. We all know that as much as 70% of communication is non-verbal so this category includes both verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Other communication skills include listening, giving and receiving feedback, motivating yourself and others and delegation. Secondly, how you behave towards yourself and with others. This might include how to get a well formed outcome, behavioural flexibility, leading and influencing others and taking responsibility.

Soft skills defined - Understanding communication

At the heart of effective communication is rapport. That means meeting other people in their model of the world so that they feel acknowledged and valued. At your next team meeting begin to look for examples of strong rapport and good pacing and leading skills. That means beginning to notice how people in rapport tend to adopt the same physical posture. In effect, they are mirroring one another. Watch how the matching extends to facial expression, speed, volume and tone of voice. Sound weird? Try it out. You’ll certainly notice how difficult communication can be when communicating with someone whose body posture is very different from your own or whose pace and tone is different. The ability to build and maintain rapport with people and pace and lead is a skill that is easily learned. The payoffs are significant. They range from helping to put a nervous interview candidate at ease to pacifying an angry customer, boss or colleague, persuading a colleague who is sceptical, energising someone who is lethargic or getting a person who is taking an issue light-heartedly to treat it more seriously.


The whole concept of chunking is useful in delegating. Exactly what chunk size bits of information do your people need. Yes, we are all different. Some of us see the big picture, others of us see the details. Knowing how to ‘chunk up’ so that those who need large chunks get what they need and those who need small chunks also get what they need is a very powerful skill indeed. Again, language and how we use language is crucial and an indicator of how to match the needs of those for whom you want to delegate to.


Listening is one of the skills we are very seldom taught. Listening in a way in which we are engaging with the sensory specific information being communicated leads to being us being heard, which leaves us feeling acknowledged, valued and respected. Strong rapport, good pacing and leading and highly developed listening skills are at the heart of effective coaching and people development – all skills with very powerful consequences which are easily learned.

Giving and receiving feedback

Giving and receiving regular feedback is the stuff that high performance teams are made of. It’s the glue that binds good teams together. Giving effective feedback is a highly developed skill, it requires the person giving the feedback to be able to separate out what you do, and therefore what you need to do differently from who you are. In other words having the ability to separate the person’s behaviour from their identity. In that way the recipient’s identity, values and self-esteem are preserved. This means that the person giving feedback needs to avoid using generalisations. It also means the person receiving feedback needs to be skilled at asking for specific feedback about a particular behaviour.

Motivating yourself and others

Motivating yourself and others is a result of understanding your own thinking strategies and those of others. One person describes what they want, another describes what they don’t want. Some people talk about moving towards something, for example achieving a goal, while others talk about moving away from things, for example avoiding a disaster. When it comes to recognition some are motivated by inner standards of success, others by the need for external recognition. Some people are great and enjoy generating lots of options, others tend to like the process, for example the procedure. Once you know how to identify your own and others triggers or language patterns, you can then identify the language to use to capture your own and their interest.

Achieving what we set out to

Human behaviour is purposeful. Think about why you are reading this article? What is your outcome, what is it specifically that you want to achieve? And how will you know when you have achieved it? What will be your evidence? Without knowing what you want, it’s difficult to begin to define what success is. Indeed without clear outcomes, you are much more likely to be blown off course by external factors. So, here’s a few tips on setting effective outcomes: make sure they are expressed in the positive, stating what you want, not what you don’t want, determine what you and others have to do, make the outcome specific and within deadlines and be clear about your evidence for achievement.

Behavioural flexibility

Behavioural flexibility is all about being able to adapt our behaviour in order to achieve our desired outcomes. Yet how many times do we repeatedly do what we’ve always done and as a consequence got the same result. Hence, the person who is most able to flex their behaviour is frequently the most able to achieve their particular outcome.

Creative problem-solving

Adapting behaviour to achieve specific outcomes was the hallmark of Walt Disney. His whole creative strategy and indeed his success depended upon his ability to cycle between states of enthusiasm and focus while interacting with different animators – again skills that are very powerful and easily learned.

Leading and influencing others

Leadership is about getting things done through people. It’s about a leader leading others towards a goal within a system. Another way to think about leadership is to think about our own individual state and how we are in ourselves and our own capabilities with respect to the perceptual filters and motivations of others in order to define and achieve a particular set of objectives in a given environmental context. So, leadership is really about influencing with integrity. That means acting with personal purpose stemming from a centred sense of self, resulting in behaviour that is naturally aligned with who you are and what matters to you.

Taking responsibility

Taking responsibility is an area that comes up time and again. The language you hear in the corridors gives us a clue. Ever heard stuff like “they won’t give me the budgets”, “they won’t ……”. But what about “I ……… Begin by asking yourself, “are you on the cause or effect side”. Your language will give you a clue.


So, it isn’t about suddenly acquiring a whole raft of brand new skills. It’s about learning and constantly refining skills that can be applied in different ways. Indeed the links between all 10 are very strong. Developing excellence in soft skills pay handsome dividends, both for individuals and for corporations. Happy customers and happy staff is the result of attitudes, which reflect what’s important and possible – about the company and the service it provides. Creating and living these as an organisation is what differentiates the excellent from the good.

Helen Drake

For further information, contact Helen Drake at Point Taken on 020 8995 2864 or by email at helen@pointtaken.com



How to give constructive feedback and take criticism


One of the regular complaints I hear from people at all levels in different organisations is that they lack feedback. And the feedback that they do get is often only at appraisal time or when a customer complains. Worse, when it comes it is often delivered with good intention but comes to the receiver as an assault on their very being. Often, the result is that feedback fails to produce any kind of purposeful result. Yet, effective feedback is at the heart of learning and development and forms part of the glue that binds together successful organisations and teams.

The Purpose

The purpose of feedback is two fold. Firstly motivational feedback tells a person that good performance has been noticed and gives recognition for it, so helping their confidence and motivating them to repeat the good performance in the future. Developmental feedback is to help a person modify and improve their performance by telling a person what needs to be done better next time. Both types are important and so to is the timing. Regular feedback reassures people that they are on track, it helps affect immediate change and often removes the ‘charge’ and anxiety associated with the appraisal process.

Difference between feedback and criticism

The differences between feedback and criticism can be subtle but broadly speaking a useful definition is: “if it helps it’s feedback and if it hurts, however well intentioned it was, it’s criticism.” It seems that many managers, however senior in the corporate pyramid, often have very few skills in some of the “how to’s in giving and receiving effective feedback. Here’s a few to consider.

Points for Giving Feedback

Ensure you have good rapport – be mindful of your body language - remember that your words only convey as little as 10% of the meaning of the communication

          Make it regular – feedback isn’t just about appraisals and customer complaints, use it as a tool for on-going natural development

          Be specific, emphasise outcomes and watch your language, get clear about what you say so that the receiver understands precisely what you are saying and invite their comment. Avoid qualifying words such as quite, almost

          Be constructive and remember the function of feedback – to acknowledge, support and develop, not to criticise

          Pay attention to the results of feedback by seeing, hearing and feeling the result of feedback given

          Separate out a person’s identity from their behaviour Feedback should be about actions, about what you do or need to do differently not about who you are.

          Tailor feedback to the needs of the recipient recognising that some people need lots of feedback, others little, some need public acknowledgement, others more private

          Speak to the person directly, not about them

          Find your own role models - hang around with people who are good at giving feedback and learn from them

Points for receiving feedback

          Genuinely accept all feedback as useful, even if it is malevolently intended. Listen for the detail so that you really do know what the other person is talking about.

          Don’t take it personally – you will encounter incompetently delivered feedback at some stage

          If you find yourself under attack focus on getting the most from the situation and ask yourself ‘how can I make this work for me so that I never have to hear this sort of attack from anyone ever again

          Learn from your experience and ask yourself ‘what can I learn about the way this feedback was delivered to me to make sure I never do this to anyone else?’

          If you are unclear about specifics, ask questions of clarification, particularly those beginning with “what”

Proper well-intentioned feedback with a two way exchange of information is one of the vehicles for supporting and helping colleagues to prosper. Handled well, it can boost performance, forestall future problems and inspire greater effort. It is a critical tool for all managers, particularly those responsible for developing their most important asset – their people.

Helen Drake

For further information, contact Helen Drake at Point Taken on 020 8995 2864 or by email at helen@pointtaken.com


Developing leaders for today’s complex and changing environment : Seeing the ship from the eyes of the crew

Ever heard the expression “inventories can be managed, but people need to be lead”? But exactly what is it to lead and be lead; why are leadership skills so important and why are companies putting so much emphasis on leadership skills in developing their people? Helen Drake of Point Taken takes up the challenge to respond to some of these questions.

Leadership : we all have our own interpretations

Ask anyone about leadership and a plethora of different interpretations soon emerge. Some talk about inspirational business leaders, citing those such as America’s Bill Gates or Sir John Harvey Jones. Others cite people such as Nelson Mandela, Ghandi and the like. Yet others look to themselves and specific situations in which they are effective leaders. In truth any involvement with others provides an opportunity for leadership. We all have times when others look to us for direction, guidance and support. Whether we are managers, partners in a relationship or as parents, we are all leaders at certain times. And, we all have very different styles and strategies of leading.

What is leadership?

Leadership means different things to us all. At the core of leadership is the ability to influence with integrity – the ability to influence firstly ourselves and then others. Not surprisingly, being able to influence means having an ability to build and maintain rapport firstly with ourselves and then with those around us. Just think for a moment – effective leadership requires the co-operation of those who choose to be lead. Surprising though it may seem, leadership is not about strength, force, determination and courage. Just take a look at some of the role models available. What is it that is common to all leaders? Look first to their values and beliefs followed closely by a careful examination of their behaviour. Talk to anyone with great influencing skills and they may not be able to tell you exactly what they do; but they’ll give you a behavioural demonstration by showing you. Watch what they do and notice their traits. Boil them down and ask yourself “what is it effective leadership really all about? Johnson argues strongly that it’s about acting with personal purpose stemming from a centred sense of self resulting in behaviour that is naturally aligned with who you are and what matters to you. In short, having rapport with oneself and therefore others. But why is leadership so important? particularly today when business operates in such a complex and constantly changing environment?

Why is leadership so important?

Irrespective of our titles, business is about getting things done. Most businesses today operate in a complex and constantly changing environment. Leaner organisational structures and global competition requires radically different skills and attitudes from all individuals in the workplace. In plain language, that means more than ever before the need to develop effective leadership and communication skills. Broadly speaking this typically includes skills such as behavioural flexibility, an ability to be clear about outcomes, sensitivity to others and rapport. These are the areas that many now consider absolutely critical to effective management development.

What does today’s workplace need from its leaders?

Organisational flexibility and responsiveness are critical says Helen. Again, look to those models of excellence and what do we notice? Effective leaders are constantly evolving, developing, learning and pushing the boundaries even wider. Typically they lead by example through operating out of a clear sense of purpose for themselves and the organisation. Viewing every member of staff as a source of valuable ideas, they often demonstrate high levels of tolerance with ambiguity and uncertainty. Often driven by a sense of passion, their commitment to their own learning and that of others is paramount. So too is their ability to build relationships and encourage the building of networks.

Lots of skills and attributes - the most effective leaders are those who are themselves. Leadership comes from within.

Helen Drake

For further information, contact Helen Drake at Point Taken on 020 8995 2864 or by email at helen@pointtaken.com


Recommended Reading

General Reading

NLP : The New Technology of Achievement
Steve Andreas and Charles Faulkner
ISBN: 1-85788-122-2



Frogs into Princes : The Introduction to Neuro Linguistic Programming
Richard Bandler & John Grinder
ISBN: 1-870845-03-X



Turtles all the way down: Prerequisites to Personal Genius
Judith De Lozier and John Grinder
ISBN: 1555520227



The Art of the Possible
Dawna Markova
ISBN: 0-943233-12-7



Change your Mind and Keep the Change
Steve Andreas and Connirae Andreas
ISBN: 0-911226-29-X



Heart of the Mind : Engaging your Inner Power to Change
Connirae Andreas and Steve Andreas
ISBN: 0-911226-31-1



Reframing : Neuro Linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning
Richard Bandler and John Grinder
ISBN: 0-911226-25-7



Making Contact
Virginia Satir
ISBN: 0-89087-119-1


Applications of NLP to Business



NLP at Work : Neuro Linguistic Programming : The Difference that Makes a Difference in Business
Sue Knight
Second Edition
ISBN: 13: 978-1-85788-302-2 & ISBN: 10: 1-85788-302-0



Influencing with Integrity : Management Skills for Communication and Negotiation
Genie Z Laborde



Precision : A New Approach to Communication
Michael McMaster and John Grinder
ISBN 1555520499



Applications of NLP to Psychotherapy. Counselling & Health



Handbook of Ericksonian Psychotherapy
Edited by Brent Geary and Jeffrey Zeig
ISBN: 0-9716190-1-8



Taproots : Underlying Principles of Milton Erickson’s Therapy and Hypnosis
William Hudson O’Hanlon
ISBN: 0-393-70031-3



The Courage to Love
Stephen Gilligan
ISBN: 0-393-70247-2




Core Transformation : Reaching the Wellspring Within
Connirae Andreas and Tamara Andreas
ISBN: 0-911226-33-8



Beliefs : Pathways to Health and Well Being
Robert Dilts, Tim Hallbom & Suzi Smith
ISBN: 1-55552-029-4


Web Links








Discover NLP
 11th September 2020 Autumn 2020

 25th September 2020 Autumn 2020

NLP Practitioner

NLP Master Practitioner
  Starting April 2020

Hello For inspiration and updates sign up for our newsletter

    View Helen Drake's profile on LinkedIn    © Point Taken Ltd.
21 Stilehall Gdns, Chiswick,
London W4 3BS
020 8995 2864