10 Things you need to know about NLP
1) NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming
- Neuro refers to the neurological pathways in the brain
- Linguistic refers to the primary way we, as humans, share experience
- Programming refers to 'repeatable' behaviours (generally of an unconscious origin)
2) NLP is about Subjective Human Experience
How individuals respond to the 'reality' that is 'out there', turn it into a reality which is 'in here' (pointing to my head) and relate to that experience is the primary interest of NLP
3) NLP was created by John Grinder and Richard Bandler
For the most part this is true, if an oversimplification. NLP refers to the set of tools and approaches defined and collated by Bandler and Grinder in the 1970's which were directly influenced by behaviourist approaches to human learning; post-modern philosophical ideas like radical-constructivism and the Human Potential Movement.
Key in the development of early NLP 'models' were Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls whose technique and communication patterns were studied by Grinder, Bandler, Pucelik and others.
4) NLP is about Change
Change is the only constant in the universe. NLP is about supporting change within the individual, change in their behaviours and change in the way the relate to themselves and others. The various NLP tools and approaches support the individual in exploring how their beliefs, attitudes and attitudes drive their perceptions and responses to the world.
5) NLP is about 'excellence'
NLP practitioners often talk about excellence and the notion of 'modeling' it. There is a presupposition that if one person can do something, finding out about HOW they do WHAT they do could be of benefit to others. By modeling communication patterns, behavioural responses and thought processes insights into effective and affective behaviours can be gained.
6) NLP makes broad sweeping generalisations
This is true in as far as the presuppositions which lie at the core of NLP are simply statements of possibility. They are ideas about the nature of perception, behaviour and the way the world works. They are linked by a question which seeks to discover "what would happen if this generalisation were true...?" or "what other choices would be possible if this were true?"
7 NLP is Solutions Focused
NLP is not about the historical causes of a particular issue or challenge, it is about the current responses to it and the changes that could/can be made to reach/define a more desirable outcome. In this respect NLP challenges current attitudes and possible resistance to change and helps chart a course to a more resourceful future.
8 NLP is about questioning
One of the 'key' models in NLP is called the "Meta Model". This is a framework which is used to connect what is being said by a person to the deeper meanings or truths not stated and the implied values and belief systems. What we say is a short hand version of what we could say or might want to say, feel or would like to feel, think or might want to think. An experienced NLP Practitioner will ask a series of questions, some playful some provoking a lot of thought. in order to connect the 'words' with the 'internal experience'. In doing so the individual can explore the choices they make and the behaviours they adopt.
9 NLP is generative
NLP is always about creating choices and exploring those choices. There is the fundamental belief that the person with the greatest behavioural flexibility will perform better in a range of tasks, challenges and situations.
10 NLP is Holistic
NLP considers the link between Mind and Body; Emotions and Experience; Behaviours and Values. As such it recognises the importance of an individuals belief system. As an approach it will support the individual in questioning any limiting beliefs, behaviours and attitudes and defining empowering beliefs, values and attitudes.
NLP in the therapeutic context can help support people who have a range of behavioural challenges - these would include issues surrounding habits, phobias, self-confidence, inter-personal communication skills, dealing with emotions (anger management) and so forth.
NLP in the coaching context can support individuals, teams and organisations in managing and inspiring change. It helps define targets and goals and the behaviours required to meet those targets and goals.
NLP in the educational context is about teaching, learning, memory and thinking. It is about being able to ask questions, motivate learners and define outcomes.
NLP in the business context is about communicating values, messages and ideas to others in effective, relevant ways.
NLP is an attitude to life - a way of thinking about the world which encourages reflection, focus and action.
Dr Alan Jones PhD, FRSA