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 of NLP 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 in NLP, 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knows how such programs are structured in the mind and how to access them through conversation (language) so that outdated programs and autopilot behaviors can be changed.
How does NLP work in real life?
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.
Let’s make this simpler with another example.Have you ever tried to communicate with someone who didn’t speak your language, and they couldn’t understand you? The classic example of this is when someone goes out to a restaurant in a Foreign country and they think they ordered steak, but when the food shows up, it turns out they actually asked for liver stew. This is the kind of relationship that most of us have with our own unconscious mind. We might think we are “ordering up” more money, a happy, healthy relationship, peace with our family members, and being able to stick to a healthy diet…but unless that’s what showing up, then something is probably getting lost in translation. In NLP, we have a saying: the conscious mind is the goal setter, and the unconscious mind is the goal getter. Your unconscious mind is not out to get you–rather, it’s out TO GET FOR YOU whatever you want in life.
SO, What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
The other 93% of communication. NLP is a system for understanding and using the 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.
LET'S STUDY The NLP Breakdown of Inner Communication
Inner communication is made of images, sounds, and feelings . 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.
Pillars of NLP
These are the four pillars (foundations) of the neuro-linguistic programming
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.
2. Sensory awareness
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.
3. Outcome thinking
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.
4. Behavioral flexibility
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.
In fact, go ahead right now and think of, if there was one thing you could change, one habit you could break, what would it be?Would you remain calm during work presentations?
Quit procrastinating and spending so much time on Facebook?
Not devour a whole bag of potato chips or tub of ice cream in one sitting?
Whatever it is, realize that your unconscious mind only does that because it thinks that’s what you want. (“Sir, here is your procrastination along with a side of anxiety. I’ve also told the valet to bring up your emotional baggage as per your request. Will you be needing anything else?”).
Neuro-Linguistic Programming is like a user’s manual for the brain, and taking an NLP training is like learning how to become fluent in the language of your mind so that the ever-so-helpful “server” that is your unconscious will finally understand what you actually want out of life.