How Employee and Manager Can Speak the Same Language (Infographic)

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I’ve been attending a course in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and this month I’ll be a certified NLP Practitioner. Yeah! Baby steps is everything. Just keep walking…

Anyways, in regards to this I decided to write today’s post based on one of the most important premises of NLP:

The map is not the territory.

The map is what? Which territory? I think this post is not for me... Hold on! Before you start thinking like this, stick with me. It’s easy to digest and.. there are some nice infographics coming ;-).

As the title suggests, we’ll have a look at the communication between an employee and a manager. 

A good communication goes hand in hand with good rapport. Rapport is basically a connection between two or more people that is based on mutual understanding of each other’s feelings or ideas. You will agree with me that any relationship needs good rapport. The relationship between manager and employee is no different. A good rapport between them ensures a smooth communication and collaboration.

However, if the rapport – the understanding of each other’s worlds – is not good, problems are on the way. What’s the root of wrong understanding? It’s that both parties have a different view on things, based on many factors. Our previous experience, opinions, temperament, character and many other things form our view of the world, that is, our map of the world. Each of us have their own map, and every map is unique.

The problem starts when every person takes into consideration just their own map. Where our maps overlap, we tend to understand each other better, as we identify with the other person. Where our maps don’t overlap, there is a bigger tendency for friction and misunderstanding.

The territory (objective reality) is the same.

The interpretation of the territory – our map (subjective reality) differs.

Let’s have a look at concrete examples.

(1) Infographic: 1 world (territory), 2 ways to look at it (maps)


Imagine that we analyse your map of the world and your manager’s. Say that there are certain things you both have in common, such as similar hobbies and similar temperaments and the same understanding of punctuality and productivity at work. These are the elements where you share the same map. However, there are many other important aspects where your maps differ, as in your values. personality or motivation.

The consequence is that in some topics you may agree and find rapport easily, while in other topics you clash.

To set an example, you’re motivated when your manager expresses appreciation for your hard work. Your manager, however, doesn’t know what motivates you but he knows what motivates him. So he tries to convince you that if you work well you’ll have a great career in the company, which isn’t at all what you want. That’s the first friction that occurs – when one person projects his or her map onto the other person.

Now a second example.

(2) Infographic: 1 term (territory), 2 interpretations (maps)


In the first infographic we analysed a deeper level of understanding, based on values, experiences and other fundamental factors that form our view of the world.

The second infographic analyses a more superficial level of understanding – the interpretations of words, concepts, utterances. The pattern is the same: while the actual phrase is the territory (the objective) the interpretation of it depends on the map of each person (the subjective).

While in some cases the maps are very different and create more friction in understanding (“Don’t work harder, work smarter.”), in other cases the maps overlap more and ensure a better understanding between each other (“I want to have more flexible working hours.”)

What’s the main takeaway? 

The awareness that misunderstanding has its roots in not seeing (or not wanting to see) that the other person’s map of the world is different. The territory is the objective reality, but that the objective map doesn’t exist. There are only subjective maps, our individual ways of looking at things. This is true for deep concepts such as every person’s values, as well as for more superficial concepts like the understanding of a word.

What’s the best way to build rapport?

It’s taking into consideration that what’s obvious to us is not obvious to the others. What motivates John doesn’t have to motivate Jane. What Jane understands about the word “competent” may be completely different to what John thinks it is. We need to be aware that our interpretations differ. If we want to be sure, we ask the other person what she means with what she’s just said.

How can an employee and manager build a good rapport and speak the same language?

By understanding what I explained in the previous question and by being honest and open with each other. It’s the job of the manager as well as the employee to make sure fundamental things are explained well and understood by the other party. And I would add that it’s the manager’s job to establish a relationship where honesty and different opinions are encouraged and appreciated. This way employees can be open about their values, motivations or opinions.

They’ll be encouraged to build good rapport and learn to speak the same language. 

 Did you like this post? You may like this one as well: Directive vs. Coaching Leader (Infographic)