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About NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)

     Before you decide to join our Chat-Room or Message-Board, you maybe want to read something about the topic.
     The following articles of well known NLP-Masters and Trainers explain the basis of NLP from slightly different points of view:

About NLP
     NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) is a technology of human behavior that can be used to help people make important changes, eliminate unwanted behaviors or acquire new skills.
     It is based upon the premise that experience has structure, and that by altering the structure, you can change the experience.
     For example, let's consider an person who finds it difficult to speak in public. There are a number of possible ways that someone could go about having such a problem.
     Here is a possible scenario:
     We'll call him John. He is the second of two presenters at an important business conference. The first presenter is addressing the audience. John is distracted as he anticipates his turn. He begins to talk to himself internally. He says, "I'm not really sure that this speech is very good ... I should have worked on it a little more." Then he looks at the speaker on the platform. He says to himself, "Look at his suit. ... If only I were able to dress that well ... they're never going to take me seriously." He feels a tightness in his stomach. He begins to wonder if his hair is in place. He looks out at the audience who seem (to him) to be VERY engaged in the presentation they're listening to. He listens to the speaker and says to himself "His presentation is SO polished, and he's such a dynamic speaker!" Then his mind wanders to a high school speech class when he talked clumsily for ten minute without realizing that his fly was open. He remembers how humiliated he was when the class started laughing at him. He looks out at the audience again. "They'll probably laugh at me too," he says to himself. And in his mind's eye he visualizes himself speaking while the entire group whispers with one another about how dull and unprepared he is. His heart starts to race. He imagines losing his job as a result of his poor performance and sees himself penniless and begging for change on the street. He becomes depressed. Then it's his turn...
     Having run these thoughts through his mind has left him in such an unresourceful state, that he is destined to do a poor job. And even if his presentation was good, he probably would realize it.
     In NLP when we talk about the structure of experience we are talking about the pictures, words and feelings - The internal images we make (John picturing his high school class), the things we say to ourselves (John's self-talk), and the feelings that we experience.
     A woman who had once been a professional bowler came to see me because her game was suffering.
     "What seems to be happening," I asked her.
     "Well," she replied, "this picture keeps popping into my head when I'm about to deliver the ball and I just can't seem to get rid of it."
     "Oh?", I asked with apparent curiosity.
     "I keep remembering a time when I tripped in my approach, fell on my face, and slid half way down the alley!" she said.
     "Is it a little picture off in the distance?" I asked.
     "Of course not!" she replied almost indignantly. "It a very large picture and it's right up in my face."
     "I can see how that would work to stop you," I said. "Would it work if it were a small, black and white picture?" (This question has the effect of inviting her to "try on" a different structure -- a different way of thinking.)
     "Not at all," she said after a moment's reflection. "In fact," she added with a smile." I think I could handle that just fine."
     Her game recovered (and in fact improved) when she changed the internal processes that had been causing the problem.
     NLP is about learning how to run your brain (rather than letting it randomly control you) to get the results you want for yourself. There are a number of processes used by NLP Practitioners to elicit and adjust the structure of experience. Images, sounds and feelings are only a few of the many structural elements of human experience that NLP is concerned with.
     Beliefs and Values, for example, play a key role in how we experience our lives.

Presuppositions of NLP
     Tad James, a noted NLP Trainer says, "NLP is an attitude and a methodology that leaves behind it a trail of techniques." This is especially useful in that it expresses the fact that NLP is not its techniques, but the attitude out of which those techniques (and more to come) are developed. An NLP Practitioner applies a number of presuppositions as he works with clients. These presuppositions are the foundation of the NLP approach:
     The map is not the territory
     There is a vast amount of information coming to us in any given moment. More than we can possibly contain. We "filter" this information (and thereby assign meaning to it) through our attitudes, moods, perceptions, beliefs, values, and other criteria. We use this filtered information to construct "maps" or models of reality. In our ongoing experience, we don't operate in the world directly, we operate within our "maps" - our understanding of the world and what the events around us mean to us. By changing a person's map, we change their experience of reality.
     People work perfectly. No one is "wrong" or "broken". Traditional approaches to change look at what's wrong and try to fix it. NLP doesn't operate this way. We assume that people are intrinsically healthy and in good working order. Consider a computer analogy. If you are running a program that is poorly written and doesn't produce the results that you want, you wouldn't go out and buy a new computer. You would look for a better program. By the same token in NLP we understand that the results people have in their lives (either wanted or unwanted ones) make sense given the way that they process the information and organize their thinking. In San Francisco where I live, I have been called upon to work with people who have phobic responses to driving across the Golden Gate and Oakland Bay Bridges. Looking at the structure of this experience I often find that these people have images in their minds of their car going over the side of the Bridge and into the bay. Then they experience a state of panic. Just as it makes sense to be frightened when you're watching a horror film. It would make no sense at all not to panic when you are thinking about being killed. We assist people to change the programming that they use to produce desirable results.
     People make the best choice available to them.
     People do the best that they can given the resources available to them.
     The issue is making more resources available.
     Choice is Better than no choice According to John Grinder, one of the two creators of NLP, "One choice is no choice, two choices is a dilemma, and three (or more) choices is choice." Many people feel that they do what they do because there aren't any other options or "they just can't help it". In NLP we help people develop more choices for themselves.
     Everyone has the resources needed to accomplish what they really want, the problem is, these resources may not be available in the context where the client wants them, while they may be fully available somewhere else. I can recall a client who needed to be "brave" in a decisive meeting with his employer, and this same man had rescued a child from drowning only two weeks earlier. He had the quality he needed, just not where he needed it.
     There is no failure, only feedback.
     Every response that we get has value in that we can learn more about what adjustments to make. The only way to fail is not to learn. In fact, there is no failure until we have given up. We simply need to try something different.
     There is a positive intention beneath every behavior.
     Even unwanted habit are indication that a part of us is trying to get something of value or to accomplish something for us. We can use NLP to discover just what that "something" is and find other, more effective ways to get it.
     The meaning of your communication is the response you get.
     In an InMind-course, given by Peter Wryckza, it is stated in a slightly different way: "The meaning of my communication to another is reflected in the response it elicits." Notice that we aren't talking about what you intended to communicate. We're more interested in what was experienced or received by the listener. If what you are trying to communicate doesn't get the response that you intended, it only makes sense to adjust your communication until it is "received" the way you want it to be. (Another tenet in NLP is If you don't get response you want, try anything else.)
     Communication is redundant.
     It is more than the words we say. We are always communicating non-verbally as well as verbally. These non-verbal elements of communication consist of the implications, physiologies, tonalities, actions, and much more.

Applications of NLP
     The applications of NLP are far reaching. The communication skills of NLP have been applied successfully in such professional areas as negotiation, sales and marketing, education, medicine, management and others; as well as proving invaluable in
strengthening personal relationships with spouses, lovers, family and friends. The therapeutic applications of NLP have been used to help individuals develop greater personal resourcefulness, change unwanted behaviors and limiting responses, accomplish important goals and achieve greater health. Using the technology of NLP, people have been able to:
  • Eliminate Phobias
  • Resolve the Past
  • Deal Effectively with Grief/Loss
  • Gain Confidence
  • Change Procrastination into Motivation
  • Relieve Allergies
  • Stop Smoking
  • Lose Weight
  • Overcome Compulsions and Obsessions
  • Develop Greater Creativity
  • Learn More Effectively
  • Ease Transitions
  • Reduce Stress
  • Eliminate Migraines
  • Achieve a sense of well-being
  • ... and many other things.

     NLP has become the 'people skills technology' of choice as we approach the 21st century. It has massive benefits in the worlds of business, education, counselling and personal development. It i notoriously difficult to define, but here are some useful ways to think about it:
  • NLP is the art and science of human excellence.
  • NLP has a highly effective 'technology' for accelerating personal and professional development.
  • NLP is an instruction manual for the mind.

     In the mid-seventies, Tom Peters was looking for the strategies for excellence in organisations. At about the same time John Grinder and Richard Bandler were looking for the strategies for excellence at the individual level. Under the influence of the profoundly original British thinker, Gregory Bateson, John and Richard modelled the skills of some of the leading masters of communication and personal change. They called what they were doing Neuro-Linguistic Programming
     'Neuro' refers to the neurological processes of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting, which form the basic building blocks of our experience.
     'Linguistic' refers to the ways we use language to represent our experience and communicate with others.
     'Programming' refers not to programming, as in computers, but rather to the strategies we use to organise these inner processes to produce results.

NLP identifies and defines how our minds work. By developing a practical understanding of these processes we can learn how to achieve results that often seem magical.
     Put simply, the world we perceive is not the real world. We each construct a unique model of the world in our heads at an unconscious level, and then live in the model as though it were real. Most human problems derive from the models in our heads rather than from the world as it really is. As you develop your practical understanding of how these inner models work, so you can learn to change unhelpful habits, thoughts, feelings and beliefs for more useful ones. NLP skills offer specific and practical ways of making desired changes in your own and others' behaviour. NLP is the 'know how' that works for human behaviour. So now you can ask yourself:
"How would I like to redesign my life?" and "What would I want to achieve in both my personal and professional life if I knew how?"
     At the heart of NLP is understanding how people do what they do well. This is called competency modelling or modelling the structure of human excellence. When a person does something exceptionally well they will be conscious of some of the thoughts and moves they make, and can pass tips on to others. However, some aspects of excellence will typically be unconscious. It could be said of a top performer 'that's just the way they are'.
      NLP modelling identifies and defines the thought processes and mind patterns used by top performers. It enables us to discover the difference between competence and excellence in any given area of human activity. It is used in training, business, management, sales, coaching, counselling, education, sport and the performing arts.
     NLP increases awareness and choice. The skills offer you a practical way of achieving a highly generative learning ability with which to produce better results in the areas of your choice. Learning to learn anything more effectively may be one of the best investments you can make in a world of accelerating change.

     Whether your interest is personal or professional, this could be the most powerful personal development course of your lifetime. Here are a few of the benefits that our trainees report:
  • Professional trainers appreciate the quantum leaps in their effectiveness at, and in their enjoyment of, training others. They especially like the wide range of skills and techniques that they can use to improve their own courses.
  • Consultants benefit from improving their relationships with clients. They like the value added by their increased ability to deliver what the client really wants through precise communication.
  • Managers notice their enhanced ability to motivate themselves and others as they communicate more effectively. As their management skills improve, stress decreases and results improve across areas as diverse as coaching and decision-making.
  • Sales people discover how to sell more effectively with integrity, adapting the presentation to the customer, making sales that benefit both the customer and themselves.
  • Educators find inspiration as well as powerful new ranges of methods to engage students more fully in learning.
  • Coaching and Counselling professionals gain a range of the most effective intervention skills.

     People in general find that NLP skills enhance quality of life and help them discover new direction, specifically gaining:
  • Increased earning potential
  • Enriched job satisfaction
  • Fulfilling personal and professional relationships
  • Vital physical health
  • A network of influential contacts
  • Greater creativity
  • Endless problem-solving ideas
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Better use of time
  • Enhanced flexibility

What is NLP?
by Robin Allenson

     So... you've maybe heard of NLP, but you don't know what it is, or you've already done some work, but you'd like to read some more. Either way, this article walks you through some of the basics of NLP. NLP is based on just a few really important distinctions. Learn these and you'll understand the rest of the processes that are called 'NLP' a lot more easily. Note that after this article, you should have some conscious understanding of what other people have done with NLP. To do NLP is a different matter. Throughout the text, you'll see little Test! signs. Use these exercises to have some practical fun, and find out how what you've read actually applies to yourself. You'll also find book suggestions along the way.
     NLP stands for "NeuroLinguistic Programming", and it started in the early '70s with Dr John Grinder and his graduate student, Richard Bandler. Many others joined and the 'field' grew dramatically. Not everyone with NLP agrees with everything else said by everyone else. Such is the way of most things.

Taking Things Seriously
     Well, there's the first thing -- or not. NLP is a body of knowledge on how to do things. So, NLP is a process, not a thing! It's difficult to buy and sell NLP, although some try to do that. And to talk about NLP like it's a something (like we're doing now) is also dangerous, because you can very quickly fall into the trap of believing what you're saying because the language allows you to say it. You might already know that many other words have been turned into nouns from verbs. These are sometimes called nominalisations. More on nominalising later.

     But then, what do we do when we do NLP? The answer is that we model. Now, this kind of modeling doesn't involve dressing up for a photo shoot, instead we take a human activity and extract just what makes it tick -- the essentials. How we do that is part of the technology called NLP. As an integral part of the process of modeling we test that the model works.
     Many of the early models that were produced with NLP are used by many people and also, curiously, called "NLP". For instance, if you do an NLP practitioner course (the most basic course to get a qualification), much of what you'll be taught may be some of the techniques derived from study twenty years ago. Other courses (and this does very much depend on with whom you train) will teach you how to model and how to create your own techniques.
     Richard Bandler has described NLP as "an attitude leaving a trail of techniques behind". It's up to you whether you decide to learn how to use someone else's techniques (very useful somewhere else, and possibly useful for you), or whether you decide to learn the structure behind the attitude, and be able to use it anywhere. This web site will introduce you to many of the techniques, some new, some old. Many people who do NLP often suggest them by name -- "I'd just use the fast phobia cure on that one", or "You might try some timeline work, some belief changes and then use a swish". Initially, it can all seem very complicated. This site has introductory articles on most of the commonly used techniques, but the best way to learn is being with someone who can do it all smoothly and precisely -- exactly what you'll find, amongst lots more, at any good training.

Basic mechanisms
     NLP is based on a number of basic mechanisms: representational systems, anchors and strategies.
Representational systems
     Representational systems are different modalities: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling (good!). Within each of these rep systems, or modalities, there are further classifications, or sub-modalities. They're just the different ways of describing the qualities of phenomena within the representational systems (or rep systems, or modalities). Submodalities are some of the ways that your mind uses to code information about a situation. The coding is often information about the state that you're in when you think a thought. A state is an internal position of bodymind -- like emotions or directions in thought.
     Everybody has different codings, and one of the first things you'll do on an NLP course is to find out how you and your fellow students code information about happy events (amongst many others). The powerful step in using sub-modalities is to apply them to memories, or thoughts, with different associated feelings.
     For instance, something that makes you feel sad can make you feel curious, or happy, or blissful, or satisfied, or anyone of a nearly infinite range of states. It can simply be a matter of changing the coding. Sometimes life can feel like you're a character in a bad movie, with the same familiar emotions running through you. NLP allows you to very quickly rewrite the script. Once you find that you have a script, and how it's written, it's hard to resist writing yourself in for more fun, excitement and pleasure in the future!
     An excellent introductory book, that includes how to use submodalities is Richard Bandler's Using your Brain for a Change.
     Anchors are ways of 'recording' useful states, that we use unconsciously all the time. Your body and the submodalities of your thoughts (including what the prominent modalities are) all go to make a memory. And you are learning all the time. Simply placing your body in a certain position, changing it in subtle ways, can very powerfully change the way that you feel -- your state. Similarly, changing both what you're thinking of and how you think about it can change the way you hold your body.
     Strategies are sets of steps that all unconscious processes can be thought of. When we model, we frequently produce strategies. Each step of a strategy is often represented by a representational system.

Two useful models
     Two of the earliest models have been added to the very foundations how NLP is done. They are both models of language, the ways in which we can use it and the responses that this gets us. One model, the Milton Model, is a way of being vague without sounding it. The second model, the Meta Model, is a way of specifying, of cutting through generalisations. The two models are inverses of each other and can be used together, one to specify exactly what is desired (using the Meta Model) and the other to persuade, or install that idea (using the Milton Model).
     © Robin Allenson 1997

What? is NLP
by Carole Taylor, MA, PhD

     I heard a funny story some years back about a student on one of Richard Bandler's trainings who complained that Richard was teaching something different to what he'd said in one of his books. Richard fixed the student with gleaming eyes and replied (in a tone that said it all): "I changed my mind."
     This little anecdote always makes me chuckle because in my own way I know where that student was coming from. I, alongside a whole generation of students of NLP in the early '90s, kept searching for ways to answer the question: "What is NLP?"
     I'll return to this. But first three anecdotes of my own, to illustrate how I've taken NLP into qualitative market research, advertising, and women's history, which will probably go further to answering the question than any dictionary definition can.

I. NLP in qualitative market research
     In 1996, I and a colleague read a paper at the annual Conference of The Market Research Society (UK) titled "Analysis and Interpretation of Qualitative Data: unpacking the mysterious." Using the modelling technology of NLP, we had explored with some of the best market researchers in the business, precise cognitive processes that are at work when they interpret qualitative data.
     We asked our researchers how they came to the decision they had reached a satisfactory interpretation of qualitative market data. While we might have focused on content, we chose instead to take an NLP approach and explore parallel linguistic structures in our researchers replies. Here are two brief! Excerpts, and our analysis, to give you a flavour of the project:

First respondent:
     You worry about something when something doesn't fit....[or] you can't find a place for it....framing and framing and framing.... until you find the bit where you've got the right frame on it, and the picture all falls into place.
     The unspecified something -- ie, the something which is "framed and framed" is, of course, the data.

Second respondent:
     It's testing off against the various facets that you've don't stop until the answer makes sense from all these facets.... what we're doing is saying 'here's an idea, here's an idea, here's an there's a 'yes' factor.... we tend to go 'yes,that feels right'.
     We can identify a core parallel structure in both of these examples:
     ...framing and framing and framing...and the picture all falls into place...'s an idea, here's an idea, here's an idea...we tend to go 'yes, that feels right'...
     Moreover, in both examples information (data) is being conceptualised through content as a thing. Information takes on many if not all of the attributes of concreteness or thing-ness; hence it can be manipulated sorted, sifted, tested off against, fall into place, etc.
     Drawing on material from eight depth interviews we argue in our paper that analysis and interpretation, like so many human processes, is mysterious simply because we understand so little about it.
     See; David Corr and Carole Taylor, "Analysis and Interpretation of Qualitative Data: unpacking the mysterious', 39th Annual Conference of The Market Research Society, London: The Market Research Society (1996), pp.65-76.

II. NLP in advertising
     A colleague and I are working with a client to identify how advertising agencies can more ethically sell to consumers what they really want. With training in NLP we are particularly well placed to help individuals consciously connect with their core values The premise, still to be systematically explored, is that with a more conscious awareness of their internal world the consumer can respond to advertising from a place of core values rather than from conflict or addictive habits.
     Advertisers and their clients stand to win as well, informed by what consumers as individuals want in contrast to the cultural messages they are constantly receiving from the outside. The cultural codes are what I think classic market research is best at describing; I am working at the opposite end of the scale. Cultural codes are the group story, NLP is how an individual expresses that story.
     NLP remains the primary discipline that systematically utilises our sensory experience to improve human communication. When someone says: "I see what you mean" they are literally making pictures in their mind's eye. When people talk about being "in tune with the times" they are, in a very literal sense, engaging with their experience of sound. And if someone says "I'm in touch with the situation' or 'get a grip on yourself', their language is borne out of past experiences in the kinaesthetic system.
     Qualitative testing instruments typically come up with a model of what people mean What NLP reveals as closely as anyone can, are the representations that are behind the models. You just can't get this anywhere else.

III. NLP in women's history
     I began my professional career as a historian of Handel and the Italian Opera in eighteenth-century London. After my introduction to NLP, I became so intrigued by the idea of incorporating some form of sensory based analysis into my historical work, I moved into the twentieth century so as to be able to engage in face-to-face dialogue with my historical subjects.
     Using the methodology of NLP and oral history, I am now researching and writing a book on successful businesswoman in Britain still living whose careers in business life first flourished before about 1970; that is, before the current wave of feminism led to an increase in the number of women participating in business life at a managerial level. The project includes Christina Foyle (bookseller), Livia Gollancz (publisher), Liliana Archibald (Lloyd's broker) and Mary Dilnot (magazine editor) among others. They are thus engaged in a variety of businesses.
     The aim of the project is twofold. The first is to record and classify the life histories of this group of successful businesswomen, as well as the obstacles they confronted and overcame. Secondly, their life stories might well provide useful information for women seeking careers in business today.
     These three areas represent some, but by no means all of the ways I bring NLP into my working life. For those of you who skill want a proper answer to the question, "What is NLP?" here are a few that work for me:

  • NLP studies the sensory-based structure of our thinking
  • NLP is about states of mind and focused attention.
  • NLP is not just detective work. It is, on the other side, enabling people to be creative in a focused way.
  • NLP is what human interactions linguistically, are about.

     But beware: to paraphrase Richard Bandler, "I may change my mind."
     Carole Taylor runs Peregrine, a research and training consultancy specialising in business performance and communication. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at The Graduate Research Centre in the Humanities, University of Sussex, and a licensed trainer of NLP.

What is NLP?
by Peta Heskell

     It's a question that can have as many replies as the number of people who answer it. Here are some definitions. When you have read them you may begin to ask yourself what does NLP mean to you?
     NLP is the art and science of and re-applying outstanding results derived from the investigation and analysis of top performers in different fields.
     NLP is an ever-increasing assortment of dynamic and interactive technologies and models through which the skilled practitioner can conjure up multi-dimensional magic from everyday human experience. The tools of NLP can be used alone or combined with other disciplines to create an infinite variety of applications.
     NLP is a philosophical and psychological tool for personal change.
     NLP is a powerful potion of attitude, awareness, language and action that can be used to facilitate evolutionary, quick, covert and lasting changes in oneself and others.
     NLP is a way of questioning that allows you to uncover missing, hidden or unconscious information, so that you can understand a communication more fully and influence people while maintaining your integrity and respecting theirs.
     NLP is a model for behaviours such as coaching skills, leading by example and open, authentic communication that builds and maintains trust, commitment and responsibility between employees.
     NLP is………
     Which description turns you on?
     When Turner painted a landscape he created magic from everyday artists' materials. Those of us who are not geniuses of Turner's ilk could probably knock up a painting using similar materials, yet it is unlikely that our creation would stir the hearts of humans and fetch millions at a Sotheby's auction. Why? What is the difference that makes a difference?
     What did Turner have that allowed him to create that special, unique magic? As a true artist, Turner possessed a deeply honed sensory awareness. He was at one with his ingredients and he knew instinctively how to mix and match them in a way that translated for the outside world his internal images, sounds and feelings. Each time Turner observed the world around him, stirred his paints and put brush to canvas he created something magical, unique and of the moment. Whatever the field of creativity, it takes an expert to produce that special magic.
     NLP is an elegant art form that is also a scientific programming construct of human experience.
     The methodologies, tools and models of NLP can, with the right attitude and in expert hands, be used to define or refine organisational maps, organise, analyse and utilise the multi-layered structure of collective ideas, facilitate learning, resolve conflict, enhance communication and fashion unique prototypes from which to develop extraordinary individual and corporate success.
     The range of applications that can be created is as unlimited as the client's commitment to the achievement of supremacy, and the programmer's ability to utilise their mastery of language, neurology and programming skills to design a landscape for successful and evolutionary change.
     Beware of trainers who claim to produce successful solutions by applying a rigid set of NLP techniques in a step-by-step manner. They will be ineffective. You will waste your money and you will suffer. The wise and canny purchaser authenticates a work of art before signing the cheque.
     NLP is the Registered Trademark of the Society of Neuro Linguistic Programming. Richard Bandler, the original developer of NLP, describes it thus:
     "NLP is an attitude characterised by the sense of curiosity and adventure and a desire to learn the skills to be able to find out what kinds of communication influences somebody and to look at life as a rare and unprecedented opportunity to learn. NLP is a methodology based on the overall operational presupposition that all behaviour has a structure and that structure can be modelled, learned, taught and changed [re-programmed].
     NLP has evolved as an innovative technology enabling the practitioner to organise information and perceptions in ways that allow them to achieve results that were once inconceivable"
     NLP is not what it was yesterday and tomorrow it will not be what it is today. It is a constantly evolving aesthetic science. Choosing a Society-licensed NLP professional to work with you will ensure that you are on the receiving end of the latest developments in this technology. Making that choice will enable you to move at phenomenal speed beyond these changing times into a future of eternal hope, endless possibilities and immensely rich landscapes.
     Now ask yourself what can NLP do for me?
© Peta Heskell 1997. First published on the McKenna Breen website.


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