What Is NLP?

What Is NLP?

Date: 8/29/1999

What is NLP?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) has been defined as "The Study of Human Excellence ". What are the thought processes, the beliefs, the physiologies, the communication patterns of people who do something exceptionally well, or have overcome some difficulty? By modeling these people and adapting their formulas to our personal situations we can begin to maximize our potential and help others to maximize their potentials in any given area. Similarly, if we excel in one particular area, we can apply our own formula to areas where we are less successful. NLP is used in virtually every field including business, public relations, therapy, education, sports, the arts, as well as in "everyday" situations.

NLP techniques work with thought process, changing the way we relate to life events so that we can feel and behave in a way which supports achieving the results we want.

Some of the basic techniques are:


  1. Anchoring (gestures or words that produce stimulus-response patterns)

    Submodalities (improve our audio and visual internal representations)

    Strategies (thought sequencing)

    Language Patterns (work with how we represent things to ourselves)

    Metaprograms ,Values, Self-Beliefs (are ways we understand and relate to the world and form the basis of how we make decisions).

    How does NLP work?

    Let's take an example of someone who wants to improve their ability to speak in public. We could be dealing with someone who is already an accomplished public speaker and wants to upgrade their performance or with someone who has stage fright.


    , we might find out what the person's self beliefs are. Do they believe "I just can't stand up in front of an audience! It's not my nature"? If so, the person is unconsciously sabotaging his or her ability to improve. Even a belief such as "I am an okay public speaker" may prevent the person from realizing their potential.





    Sixth, the person would replace the old strategy for the new one by using an NLP technique. At this point the speaker would have the ability to speak in front of an audience.

    The seventh step might be to teach them language patterns and metaprograms to make the speech appealing to as many people as possible. Or, if the audience is a homogeneous group, how to make it appeal to that specific group.


    One Interesting Illustration

    of NLP took place in the 1980s when the United States Army hired an NLP Practitioner to improve the soldiers' shooting skills. First he worked with the best marksmen to ascertain what thought processes they had: what they visualized and said to themselves internally. What self-beliefs did they have? What were their physiologies? Next, he had the less successful soldiers replicate these. The result was a significant growth in the number of soldiers who became expert marksmen--and a decrease in the time and money to train them.


    Business Applications of NLP:

    Metaprograms, Values and Beliefs help corporations understand the needs of employees and what motivates them to work well. They are also valuable in sales and in advertising. Language patterns are very useful in facilitating negotiations, in sales, and in wordings for advertisements and slogans.

    One of the Metaprograms determines if a person is more self-oriented or more other-oriented. Flight attendants have to be other-oriented. One of the major U.S. airlines had it's flight attendants each give an informal talk while the other flight attendants sat in the audience and listened. They thought that they were being judged by their speeches. In reality, it was the audience who were being judged according to their body language to discover who was other-oriented and who self-oriented. Those employees who were other-oriented remained flight attendants while the rest of the employees were given different jobs in the company. The airline had received too many complaints about the service on some of it's flights and wanted to know who was unsuitable for this kind of job.


    Education applications of NLP

    With students who are having learning difficulties, we can improve the student's learning strategy (the thought sequence the student is using to learn--or to not learn). Also, it is important to know the student's learning style. Visual learners learn best when they see the material on a page or on a blackboard; they like demonstrations of the material. Auditory learners learn best when they discuss the material. Kinesthetic learners need to do projects and to be actively involved.

    There are Metaprograms which determine how much routine and how much variety a particular student needs. Does the student tend to see how things are the same or how they are different? Is the student a global learner (who looks for the big picture, trends, patterns, cause/effect) or a specific learner (who likes details, facts, hard data, the bottom line)?

    There are NLP techniques to help students develop balance in their learning styles and to aid teachers in working with different kinds of students. NLP also has methods to assist people with Attention Deficit Disorder to develop organizational skills, the ability to focus and not be distracted, and to reduce impulsivity.

    , we would replace the old belief with the new belief by using an NLP technique. Any new self-belief has to be congruent with the person's value system and something the person can actually believe right now. "I am already a terrific orator" would usually be unacceptable as a new belief.fourth step might be to find out what is the person's speaking strategy is. That is, what do they visualize, what do they say to themselves, what sensations do they feel when they go out on in front of an audience? If, for instance, the speaker pictures the audience yawning and looking at the clock, while commenting how boring the material was or how monotonous the speaker's voice tone was, they're not likely to feel very good about speaking in public. And this is certainly going to have an effect on their performance.fifth step would be to develop a resourceful strategy. Here, too, the new strategy is tailored to each individual. A typical strategy for public speaking might be imagining an interested audience who comment on how informative the material was and how well the lecturer spoke. Then, we could find an area where the speaker already feels confident and comfortable about their ability to improve and have them reproduce those sensations when going out on stage.
    , we would develop a new belief that supports self-improvement. Exactly what it would be and how to word it depends on the individual. Typically it might be something like "I can learn to speak in public. I've learned many new things in my life and I have overcome many situations where I was initially afraid. I can do it now, too".