Big or small…how do you like your chunks of information?
“Excuse me could you tell me how to get to Martha’s Mad Kitchen restaurant?”
“Martha’s Mad Kitchen restaurant? hmm, yes yes of course, ok first you just keep driving along this road just like you are.“
“Yes ah huh”
“ Then keep going until you get to a traffic light, when you get to the traffic light just go through it, well if it’s red stop, but when it turns green go through it, and then you’re going to see a gas station on the right…”
“ Just keep going past that, then there’s a tea house on the left and then a grocery store on the left…it’s the Valu Mart. There’s a whole bunch of other shops and stuff in between, but those ones you should notice,”
“ah huh?” sigh
“Then you’ll come to a second light, when you can, turn right at the second light. Now that light is about 2 kilometers down the road, so don’t think you’re going to hit it right away.”
“Then you drive, and keep going and you’ll see the old elementary school on the right, they’ve closed it down, the kids use it for skate boarding and playing. Just past the school is a street, now it is your one, two, your third right after the right turn right at the second light. Keep driving past Bob’s Bar, Sally’s Sweet Shop and then you’ll see Martha’s Mad Kitchen on your left. You should be there in 10 minutes.”
“Ok so I turn right at the second traffic light, and then right onto the third street and Martha’s is on the left?”
“Um….yes, you drive here until you come up to the second traffic light. You turn left at the second traffic light and then turn onto your third street on the right, and Martha’s is on your left after Bob’s and Sally’s…yes that’s right.”
“Thank you very much”
“You are very welcome, you have yourself a nice day you hear?”
In the above dialogue I expect that…
It must be pretty clear that the person giving the directions is a small chunker, a very visual, small chunker.
If it were me asking for directions, as grateful as I would be for the information it would have been all I could do not to nod off and take a nap while they responded.
As a very auditory and very big chunker it would have suited me just fine to hear:
“Ok so I turn right at the second traffic light, and then right onto the third street and Martha’s is on the left”.
What does it matter really?
Well if you happen to be a small chunker, even maybe a micro chunker (and I know this particular group of Practitioners there are some micro chunkers amongst you) and you happen to have a very big chunker as a boss, co-worker or spouse, more often than not if you don’t make adjustments to your chunk size when talking to them at the very least you’re going to lose their attention and quite possibly if you keep giving them information they don’t want or didn’t ask for you may soon lose their respect too.
On the other hand if you happen to be a big chunker, maybe even a massive chunker (and I know this particular group of Practitioners there are some big chunkers) and you happen to have a small chunker as a boss, co-worker or spouse, more often than not if you don’t make adjustments to your chunk size when talking to them at the very least you’re going to lose their attention and quite possibly if you keep skipping big pieces of details you’re going to lose their attention and you may soon lose their respect too.
As a big chunker…
That’s how I like to get my information. Depending on what we’re talking about I may want more information, and I will ask very specifically when I do.
Socially my chunks are much larger than when I’m working. When I’m working it’s necessary to keep in mind others, and what they will require for clarity. The larger the chunker the larger the possibility of generalizing, deleting and distorting to occur on behalf of the listener. The last thing I’m going for is the people I work with to start making up what they think I said.
For small chunkers they can do the same, give tons and tons of details and say nothing that is clear to the listener…too much information. Especially when the small chunker is generalizing, deleting or distorting, it becomes almost impossible to sort through what the heck they are talking about.
The point is people like to get their information the way they “give it”. Ah ha there is the first clue to becoming proficient at matching chunking.
Here’s some steps to help you practice matching chunk size
- Listen to the speaker (with your ears and your eyes!).
- If you initiate the conversation start as you would naturally.
- Pay close attention to the listeners’ responses. Do they look confused or perhaps are they asking for more information?
- Notice if they start paraphrasing you (as I did in the dialogue example above) and if they do, is it much briefer than what you offered?
Becoming proficient at providing appropriate chunks requires practice and calibration.
Just like anything else in life worth keeping, your NLP skills are a gift, use them, practice them and respect them and they’ll keep getting better and they’ll be with you for the rest of your life.