Book review

Words That Change Minds

by Shelle Rose Charvet

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A detailed and hands-on look at the different patterns of behaviour that make up the Language And Behaviour (LAB) profile. Each pattern is explained, together with some guide questions that will allow you to determine how the participant fits against the profile. The patterns themselves are derived from NLP, and there has been some good work to establish that they are consistent within particular individuals in a particular context, and also that different interviewers will spot the same patterns in a person.

Understanding the patterns is very useful for a number of things. For example, if you’re interviewing for a particular job, you could usefully think about the characteristics of the job – do you need a creative person, or one who follows processes very well, for example? Each of the patterns will help you think about the role, and give you some very useful questions to ask candidates. Or if you’re selling a product face to face or online, thinking through the characteristics of your intended buyer will help you shape the language you use in the sales pitch. And I first came across the LAB profiles at work, where a consultant interviewed my management team and some of the staff and produced a very helpful set of profiles that allowed us to reshape the organisation to be much more effective.

As a particular example, some people are “towards” motivated, while others are “away” motivated. So when you ask someone why they did something in a particular context (e.g. why they took their current job), if they are “towards” motivated they might say “because of all the great opportunities this job offered”, whereas if they were “away” motivated they might say “because my old boss was quite difficult and I didn’t like the commute”. Both are likely true, but people will focus on one or the other depending on their towards/away inclination in the work context. Some jobs require “away” motivation (health and safety), while others are more suited to “towards” (sales).

Overall this is a very useful practical guidebook more than a pop-psychology book. Having said which, it’s hard to read the patterns and not think about where we might fit on them, and if you are reasonably insightful you’ll make a pretty good guess! My only negative comment would be that I read my copy on a kindle, and the formatting was a bit screwy at times – lots of tables and text boxes, which didn’t always come out perfectly. If I were to need to refer to this book a lot, I would likely buy a paper copy.

Full disclosure: I received a free ARC softcopy of this book. My comments and rating are accurately reflective of what I felt reading it.