What is a Definition of NLP?
NLP is a subjective interpersonal communications model, comprised of a grouping of insights and skills that help you to be in charge of your life by giving you control of your thoughts and feelings. This NLP can be viewed as creating more choices or options in people’s lives.
In a nutshell it is the study of the dynamic between mind and language and how that interaction impacts upon our behaviour and our body. People who can understand this dynamic are able to enhance their performance and focus by controlling their mental state.
Neurology – our body
Language – interaction and communication
Programming – subjective perception
What is NLP for?
NLP is widely used in the fields of coaching, therapy and business but that is not all it is for
NLP provides a means to improve overall effectiveness – rather than offering a specific skill to be applied to a specific situation to produce a specific result.
NLP is about improving and developing not ‘putting out fires’ or fixing something broken. It helps you find new and more creative approaches to life’s challenges
Who Uses NLP?
NLP is for people who are motivated to do better, who want to move beyond their own limits and beliefs
It is for people who want to learn and model advanced interpersonal skills and create a developmental mindset so they can achieve what before may have seemed impossible or very difficult.
How can NLP Help You?
You may wonder if you should learn NLP, how could it be useful for you?
NLP has been around for over 40 years. Since it’s inception it has become very popular across the world. NLP is used most notably in the fields of coaching, therapy, sports performance and personal development.
NLP is put into practice by both individuals and organisations. In organisations it is often learned as NLP Coaching.
NLP is a model of interpersonal communication that connects patterns of behaviour and thought that lends itself to self-awareness and the ability to change patterns of mental and emotional behaviour.
At NLP’s core is the concept that the map is not the territory. In other words, we can never truly know reality, we only know our perception of reality and we interact with this perceived reality through our sensory systems.
This interaction is what gives our perception of reality meaning, not reality itself. Reality then is not what limits us, it is our perception of reality that does.
What are the main applications of NLP?
The power of NLP is not only in its way of enriching the choices you have but also of those you perceive to have. From an interpersonal perspective our lives and minds can be viewed as systemic.
Our interactions between each other and our environment mutually influence one another, creating series of systems and sub-systems that are impossible to individually isolate.
Highly effective people have a map of the world that enables them to perceive the greatest number of choices and perspectives around them.
At a high level people learn NLP techniques, processes and strategies because they want insights and the tools to:
Core NLP Concepts
Since it’s inception NLP has evolved with many interpretations and this innovation is what has kept NLP at the forefront of personal and professional development.
A good way to understand the spirit of NLP is to become familiar with some of the core concepts and presuppositions.
1. The Map is not the Territory
An NLP foundational presupposition is that we can never be capable of ever truly knowing reality. We can only know is our subjective perception of reality.
We interact using our sensory systems with our perceived reality and it is only this interaction that gives any meaning to our perception of reality – not reality itself.
A good example of our differing maps of the world is to imagine taking a stroll down the street with me.
I might notice a bird in the tree while you focus on a neighbourhood dog barking at the bird.
I notice the smell of coffee from my favourite café while you smile at the friendly barista.
At any one time we are using our sensory systems to filter out a multitude of information and deciding what we focus on. What we are left with after filtering out a huge amount of information is our ‘Map of the World’.
The most effective and successful people have a map of the world that allows them to perceive the greatest amount of perspectives and therefore benefit from the increased choices around them.
2. Models of The World
The empowering revelation then is that reality is not what causes limitations in our lives, it is only our subjective perception that really limits us because we don’t actually live in reality, but rather live in our own internally created ‘Model of the World’.
This model is very different between people; this is why we have two very different experiences when we walk down the road together.
Our interpretations and the meanings that we derive from situations or experiences are all internally constructed it is just that we aren’t usually aware of this perception process.
NLP is so powerful then because when you have understanding of your own internal perception of reality and how you have created this version of reality you can then work with this perception and transform it in a way that will work best for you.
3. Behaviour Modelling
We now know about the principle of our ‘Models of our World’.
But NLP is not just about realising our internal subjective reality, it is also about improving our lives.
NLP first grew out of the process of ‘Behaviour Modelling’.
In the 1970s – Grinder, a linguistic professor and Bandler, a student of psychology – wanted to study the thinking and behaviour skills used by particularly effective and successful people.
Virginia Satir, Fritz Perls, and Milton Erickson were initially chosen because they were known to elicit amazing results from their therapies for their clients.
They thoroughly analysed the work and success rates of the therapists and out of this came some of the principles and methods still taught today as part of NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner Training such as anchoring, sensory acuity, satir styles, reframing etc.
So it is a skills based discipline that is useful as well as practical.
By making changes to your own experience of reality, you increase your ability to build on strengths and make changes when you understand your own weaknesses.
4. NLP Communications Model
A major NLP breakthrough was the discovery that there is structure to our subjective experience.
Our interactions between each other and our environment influence each other, this creates a series of systems and sub-systems none of which are able to exist in isolation.
The mind itself is an example of one such complex system.
When an event or interaction occurs and is filtered through the beliefs we hold that limit us or create possibility our representational systems i.e. how we process information such as sight, sound, smell etc. and our Meta Programs. The event or interaction is processed, distorted, generalised or erased before eventually becoming Internally Represented.
If you consider this process in the context of a person’s Mind State or Physiology, then you get an idea of the wide variety of responses possible and if you alter or change any of these factors then you can get many different possible internal responses to a single event or interaction.
5. Meta Programs
Meta Programs are the highest-level filters that guide our motivations, aims and purpose, this is the direction that the conscious mind will then focus attention towards.
They are the way that you process information and how you construct your internal representations and therefore your behaviour.
They determine how we make decisions, motivate ourselves, why we buy things, how long we stay in a job or relationship, problem solving, personal effectiveness, what we are interested in.
They are patterns in thinking style and strategies employed by a person and they are in effect what others perceive as our personality.
The truth is that these are things we do rather than who we actually are and because Meta Programs are processes rather than traits we can change them.
It does not take much imagination to understand how profound it can be to understand your meta programs and how to change them.
6. Belief Systems
We each live in a self-created and subjective reality, and a lot of what we know about our reality is shaped by our beliefs.
The beliefs we have about ourselves, other people and how the world works are to a large extent how our map of the world is formed.
When we become aware of our beliefs and make shifts to some of them we can make significant changes to our lives.
Our beliefs (and therefore our Values) are not fixed and you can achieve major improvement in self-growth by identifying and changing your limiting beliefs.
7. NLP Meta Model
The metamodel is a linguistic tool based on the knowledge that we perceive the world to be form an internal representation or map based on our sensory system. The three universal modelling processes are Distortion, Generalisation and Deletion.
Distortions – the process by which you manipulate sensory data i.e. bring information into your mind and then playing with it in your mind to create new ideas or understandings – a way of imagining the future that causes you either pleasure or pain.
Generalisations – the process by which you take an element of your map of the world and use it to represent an entire category of experience. This can work for and against you, e.g. having a bad experience with a teacher does not mean all school teachers are the same.
Deletions – the process of selective attention. It is obviously impossible to pay attention to each and every point of information that reaches your senses.
Whether consciously or unconsciously at some level of awareness you must decide what to pay attention to.
Deletion can be useful in some contexts or may inhibit your experience in others. E.g. if you delete positive comments from your boss and instead choose to focus on any criticisms then you may feel undervalued at work.
By understanding and using this model to question you or others language or words you can enhance the quality of communications as well as gain insight into how you or others think.