NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming

What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming’, or NLP for short, looks at the way in which we think and process our thoughts (Neuro), our language patterns as  well as non-verbal communications (Linguistic) and our behaviours (Programming). It explores how these interact to have a positive (or negative) effect on each individual – ourselves and others.

Originally a modelling technology, NLP began in the 1970s when John Grinder, a Professor at UC Santa Cruz, and graduate student Richard Bandler, studied some of the world’s most effective communicators. They studied the ‘language of excellence’ – how highly successful people spoke and behaved, and they identified its structure for others to emulate.

Some thirty years later, as the practice developed and expanded, Grinder offered a broader definition: “NLP is an attitude, methodology, and technology that teaches people how to improve the quality of their lives. It is an educational tool that teaches people how to communicate more effectively with themselves and others. It is designed to help people have personal freedom in the way they think, feel and behave.”

The Four Principles of NLP are:

  • First, know what you want. In any situation, have a clear outcome of what you want to achieve.
  • Be aware and alert. Have sufficient sensory awareness of yourself and others to know when you are moving towards or away from your outcome.
  • Have sufficient flexibility to be able to keep changing your behaviour until you get your outcome.
  • Take action now.

An NLP practitioner works with a number of NLP techniques (such as, the Milton Model; Representational Systems; Well-Defined Outcomes; The As-If Pattern; Reframing Beliefs & Opinions; Mistakes Into Experience) to support people in many areas. Those who reckon to have benefitted include: managers, salespeople and other business professionals, teachers, entertainers, politicians, counsellors and therapists. NLP had its origins in therapy and is now applied in all areas of human endeavour – education, health and healing, sports and performance activities, commerce and, ultimately, interpersonal relations.

NLP is a multi-faceted tool for change; as co-founder of NLP Richard Bandler put it.”Why be yourself when you can be someone better?”

What to Expect

When you visit an NLP practitioner,  he or she will be working together with you to help you to make the changes you want, by experiencing the different choices you make in the way you think. The practitioner looks and listens to the way that you think and access memories, and helps you re-frame or re-pattern your thinking to achieve the results you want. A session generally begins with you saying what changes you want and what problems you want to overcome.

You simply sit, relax and allow your mind to explore different thought processes while the practitioner will work with you through the appropriate exercises. The practitioner is like a detective, trying to piece the bits together and find out which interventions to perform. The NLP practitioner uses several tools provided by NLP in this process: Meta model, sensory acuity, system representation and sub modalities are some of the popular tools.

You may be given some ‘homework’ intended to help to adjust to the changes made during your NLP session and experiment with your new choices straightaway. When you return from your next session, you give feedback  on the changes and improvements you’ve noticed after your last treatment and when ready, move on to the next change you want to make.

Even at the first session, the practitioner will not spend a long time asking for details of the your history, because NLP works on finding solutions rather than analysing causes. Forget what is ‘true’. Focus on what ‘works’. NLP aims for practical application and results.

Effects & Benefits

NLP is not so much a treatment as a set of tools which can be used to facilitate powerful, swift and lasting change both in individuals and organisations. The skills and principles people learn from NLP can be applied in lots of different areas. Some of the more familiar applications of NLP are in personal development, business, education, sports and coaching.

In personal development
NLP techniques can clarify personal goals and enable change. The NLP attitudes and techniques can provide freedom from old habits, fears and limiting beliefs. The methods  had proved successful with issues of confidence and self-esteem, increasing motivation and interpersonal skills. When you have more options you can make better decisions.

In business
Many business leaders have adopted aspects of NLP for inspiration in organisational development, change management, conflict resolution, strategic planning and in building and inspiring their teams. Business settings can make use of standard NLP tools to enhance communication and relations with bosses, staff, customers, and can derive benefit from specific NLP skills such as rapport skills, advanced communication and influence techniques, rapid conversational personality profiling and tools for modelling success. NLP skills are the basis of effective negotiation and modelling is being used by with sales teams with success, and better communications in customer service.

In Education
A basic knowledge and understanding of NLP can help teachers and learning mentors appeal to each individual child’s style of learning, whether they best respond to visual, auditory or kinesthetic directions. There are principles for accelerated learning, strategies for mastering skills such as spelling and memory, and the principles for teaching people at conscious and unconscious levels.

In sport
Many athletes, amateur or professional, and sports coaches learn NLP to help them take their game to the next level. NLP offers the opportunity to motivate, eliminate nerves or limiting beliefs, set achievable goals, and visualise victory.

In coaching
Listening and understanding, and helping clients to set goals they can achieve – all these fundamental skills of coaching can be enhanced by applying many NLP techniques: the most effective ways to communicate, powerful ways to set outcomes and encouragement to help clients identify their goals and achieve the results they want.

There are many other areas in which the tools and underlying philosophy can be applied: overcoming anxiety and stress, stimulating creativity, conquering fears and phobias, improving parenting skills and promoting health and wellbeing.

Fascinating Facts on NLP

  • Presidential support can be claimed for NLP, which has been utilised to make powerful communications impact in politics. It was apparently used by U.S. President Bill Clinton extensively during his successful Presidential campaigns.
  • It is not a fact that NLP can be used to read and control minds. One of the main and highly emphasised lessons for NLP practitioners is to never fall victim to “mind reading”. A mind read is when a meaning is assigned to someone’s behaviour or language. For example noticing someone shiver it can be assumed that this someone is cold. But we often neglect the fact that this someone could be angry, afraid or half a dozen other things.
  • It is claimed that NLP is successfully employed to increase productivity and efficiency by the U.S. Olympic Team, the U.S. Army and Navy, and many major international corporations.
  • NLP asserts that the way that we move our eyes reflects our thinking, and the directions in which a speakers eyes move, up, down, to right or left, horizontally or diagonally, are all mapped with a meaning. For example if are looking at someone and their eyes move up and right (as we look at them), they are accessing an image of something they are remembering. If their eyes move up and left as we watch them, they are creating a visual image. The way we move our eyes is neurologically linked to the part of the brain we use to access different types of information.
  • NLP techniques can be used effectively to enhance performance in job interviews, by calming nerves through self hypnosis and persuading the interviewer through the choice of words, construction of responding sentences and manipulation of past examples of success.
  • Some practitioners specialise in using the technique for job hunters by giving techniques for CV writing and interview techniques, for instance, one claims: “… you can turn a CV in to a very trance like document simply by opening anticipation loops”.
  • Celebrities who have previously used NLP for their self-development include;Tony Robbins, Lily Allen, Gerri (‘Ginger Spice’ Girl) Halliwell, and  No. 1 talk show host Oprah Winfrey: “NLP helps me to manage audiences and motivate them. It is just amazing.”

Professional Organisations

Association for NLP

The Association for NLP’s mission is to collectively make a positive difference to society by promoting the positive benefits of NLP and encouraging Individuals and Training Organisations to deliver their NLP in a professional, responsible and congruent way. ANLP is independent and not linked with or controlled by any NLP Training Company. The ANLP Accreditation Programme is overseen by an external verification panel.

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