NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is so spot-on that most people wish they’d learned it in primary school. By the end of this article you’ll know the answer to what is NLP?
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?
Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a set of skills that reveal the kind of communication that matters most – on the inside and out.
For many, it’s clarifying to offer a definition by showing what we mean by the words neuro, linguistic, and programming. Here you go:
Neuro: Referring to the mind or brain, particularly regarding how states of mind (and body) affect communication and behavior. NLP teaches a structural way of viewing mind and body states, developing mental maps that show how things happen and how to change course.
Linguistic: Meaning that our mind and body states are revealed in our language and non-verbal communication. Language is the tool we use to gain access to the inner workings of the mind. Neuro-linguistic programming language patterns teach us how to access unconscious information that would remain vague and unknowable otherwise.
Programming: This refers to the capacity to change our mind and body states. You’ve heard the term living on autopilot, right? To someone trained, this would mean that you are living according to your programming, which consists of habitual thoughts, feelings, reactions, beliefs, and traditions.
Someone trained in neuro-linguistic programming knows how such programs are structured in the mind and how to access them through conversation so that outdated programs and autopilot behaviors can be changed.
How does NLP work?
During conversations, most of us fixate on words. What does this person mean and what shall I say in return? It’s been long established that words are the least meaningful aspect of communication, conveying just 7% of meaning (Mehrabian, 1972).
For example, when someone tells you they’re willing to help you organize a social gathering, but their voice is flat and their facial expression looks like you just invited them to an evening of electric shock torture…it’s obvious something else is going on. Their words said YES, but the non-verbal communication – the other 93% – said SOMETHING ELSE.
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming? The other 93% of communication. It is a system for understanding and using the kind of communication that really matters. Master non-verbal communication and you become a communication master!
But here’s something even more interesting:
Most people don’t realize that communication is made of so much more than interactions between people. There exists an entire world of communication within your mind and body. Inner life – your mindset, attitude, and feelings – is an active form of communication.
The most important communication is not between people but within people.
Inner communication is a strong suit of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which was originally known as the study of the structure of subjective experience. This is a fancy way of saying that NLP breaks down what’s going on between your ears so that you can do something constructive with it. Here’s a taste of how it works.
Let’s say you’re having friends over for dinner and you’re feeling extra tense. You’re not sure why. Everything seems fine, but you’re feeling on edge. An NLP Practitioner could figure out how you’re creating this tense state in a few moments. It’s all about how you’re communicating with yourself on the inside.
The NLP Breakdown of Inner Communication
Inner communication is made of images, sounds, and feelings (the VAK Model). Finding out what’s giving you tense feelings is a matter of discovering which images and sounds go with the tense feeling. As you turn your attention inward, looking for what you see and hear on the inside, you might discover that you are imagining things about the dinner:
• You’re seeing your house all messy as the guests arrive.
• An inner voice that says, “They’re going to hate your dinner.”
• Looks of disgust on their faces as they eat.
• You’re sitting alone in your house because no one showed up.
And so on. The point is: You probably weren’t consciously aware of all the inner communication channels. If you’re feeling tense about dinner, you’re probably imagining how badly it could go and responding to this unconscious imagery and sound. The tense feelings are a mirror of the other channels.
This is why Neuro-Linguistic Programming claims that people are not broken. We simply respond to inner communication, whether or not we’re aware of it. So, if you’re picturing bad things, happening at your dinner party, you’re going to feel tense. You’re working perfectly.
When you become aware of how you are perfectly creating a mindset you don’t want, you can change it. Neuro-Linguistic Programming offers a vast library of methods to change our mindset once we identify it. Transforming the inner communication so that you feel better is the Programming aspect of NLP.
History and Origins of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP)
Although Jon Grinder and Richard Bandler often receive most of the credit for originating Neuro-Linguistic Programming, NLP was actually founded by a group of people who made consistent contributions. This group includes Grinder and Bandler as well as Frank Pucelik, Robert Dilts, Judith Delozier, Leslie Cameron, David Gordon, and others.
At the University of California, Santa Cruz in early 1970s this enlightened group set out to discover the specific communication patterns that enabled outstanding psychotherapists – including Milton Erickson (famous psychiatrist/hypnotherapist), Virginia Satir (founder of Family Systems Therapy), and Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt Therapy) to achieve uncommon results with their clients.
By direct observation and videotape analyses, they were able to break down these practitioners’ effective patterns of communication and teach them to others.
The process used to discover the magic in transformative communication was called modeling. Many consider modeling to be the heart and soul of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. When you know how to create models based on the expertise of others, you can learn and teach any new skill in its essential form.
Popular NLP Techniques
NLP – Predicates
Their first discovery was that Stair matched her predicates (verbs, adverbs, and adjectives to those of her clients without being aware of doing so. Some clients would use visual predicates mainly, while others used auditory or kinesthetic predicates. This led to the proposition that for any person, one of the senses (seeing, hearing or feeling) is more highly valued and is reflected in the words that he or she selects.
When Stair matched her words with the predicates her clients used, the clients appreciated that Satir understood them. This created rapport, which made her interventions more acceptable.
NLP- Eye Accessing Cues
For instance, when a right-handed person looks up towards the left, he is probably remembering visual images.
Subsequently, Grinder and Bandler, after studying Milton Erickson, refined the linguistic patterns used by therapists to effectively influence people’s behaviors.
NLP provides an important gift to build relationships with other people. Rapport can be described as connecting quickly with others. Creating rapport creates trust from others. Rapport can be built quickly through understanding modality preferences, eye accessing cues and predicates.
Sometimes when you walk into someone’s home, you notice that the colors, smells, and sounds are subtly quite different from yours. Neuro-linguistic programming enables you to notice that your world is much richer when you deliberately pay attention to your senses wholly.
An outcome is your goal for doing something. Outcome connects to thinking about what you want, as opposed to getting stuck in a negative mode of thinking. The principles of outcome approach may help to make the best decisions and choices.
Behavioral flexibility means being able to do something differently if the way you’re currently doing it isn’t working. Being flexible is a key aspect of practicing NLP. Learning NLP helps you to find fresh perspectives and to build these habits into your repertoire.
Neuro-linguistic Programming Training (NLP Training)
The main reasons a person may take an NLP training are to:
- Be a powerful and inspiring communicator
- Be skilled at reading non-verbal cues
- Increase your subconscious and sensory awareness
- Master and be in control of your thinking and emotions
- Alleviate fears and phobias
- Motivate and empower
- Develop depth in personal and business relationships
- Attain success and achievement
- Rectify unwanted behaviors in yourself and others
- Effectively communicate and get information from others