Analyzing language and behavior in Top Performersand its uses in the employment area
Patrick E. Merlevede, M.Sc This paper has been written for the International Colloquium on New Technologiesbased Learning and Employment Support, held in Belgium from 17 to 19 September1997. This colloquium was a joint project from theLaboratory for Applied Epistemologyof the University of Gent and the Laboratory for Cognitive Sciencesfrom the University of Mons - Hainaut.
From someone's language in an interview, we can successfully predict how he or shewill behave in a given situation. The main idea is to analyze the top performers in thecompany for the structure behind their excellence and to use this structure for theemployment of other persons that have a similar job profile. Several series of testshave been developed in recent years for this purpose. This paper discusses the teststhat are based on the Motivation Traits and Working Traits, coming from the field of Neuro-Linguistics. It will show how to use these tests to recruit people, to coach themand to train them, based on the knowledge from the company itself.
The theory behind the model
Neuro-Linguistic modeling is derived from the fields of Cognitive Science. It wasstarted in the early 70's at the Santa Cruz Campus of the University of California,where scientists of the different fields worked side by side. Among other things, itapplies research methodology from cognitive psychology and techniques fromknowledge acquisition for building models.In fact, a "problem" of AI & Cognitive Science is that they try to make abstraction of physics or biology, by mapping human thinking on machines. For buildingapplications, we can use the results of research without this "abstraction", since weintend to apply to humans anyway! However, following the example of AI andCognitive Science, we stress on the structure of the cognitive processes.
Definition: Neuro-Linguistic Modeling consists in using tools that have their origins inAI and Cognitive Science research with the goal of making a model of excellentbehavior, for transfer to other persons.Its technology basis comes from combining linguistics, AI & Neurology, more specific:
the theories of transactional grammar as developped by Chomsky and asrepresented in Santa Cruz by people such as professor John Grinder;
the area of systems thinking, as started by Korzybski and extended byBateson, known from the School of Palo Alto, but residing at Santa Cruz in the70s;
the field of cognitive science with persons as Miller, whose models have beenput into practice for Neuro-Linguistic Modeling.
Based on structure, not content
When companies hire people, manage them or train them, they mostly focus on thecontent. This content will be typically different from person to person, whichcomplicates the situation. For instance, examples given in a training often do notapply to the particular situation the participant finds himself in, and it is difficult tofind out how to convert the principle behind the example so that it can be applies. Instead, Neuro-Linguistics focuses on the structure that is the same. In the training, wewill stress on the principles, and explore how to apply them with the participants.Below, we explain which structure elements are taken into account.For analyzing language and for bringing the person closer to the actual experience,we use 3 types of questions, based on 15 language patterns discovered by Chomsky(1965) and Grinder (1973). The first type of questions helps us to questionunspecified nouns, the second type serves for finding out what is behind unspecifiedverbs and a third range of questions explores the limit of the world-view of theperson for a specific context (modal operators). The language-patterns used by