Neuro linguistic programming is a new area of study and basically deals with the way in which we live our lives, the way we behave and the way we communicate. These patterns include what we think, what we do and our mental make-up. NLP also relates to our emotions and our senses. As such NLP encompasses a huge area and has its applications in a variety of fields.
Simply put, we can see NLP as a method towards personal development where it is used as a tool for performance improvement. NLP also gives us a better model for effective communication both with self and others. NLP uses ‘modelling’ or creating models for human behavior. The approach has been very powerful and successful. The behavior of highly effective performers is studied after which the results are converted into easy to use techniques. These techniques are used in workshops to help people learn in a short while, what might take years otherwise.
One of the biggest reasons why people are interested in NLP is because it gives the individual the ability to bring about the kind of transformation they want in their lives. NLP provides an insight into others’ way of thinking and behavior, based on which you can develop the techniques you need to make a positive change. You get the skills to run your life effectively by using your mind, body and emotions actively.
The knowledge body of NLP grows continuously, constantly coming up with techniques to improve the way we think, behave and feel. Developing NLP skills gives you the ability to
• Be better at what you do
• Develop the necessary skills and attitudes to do things you want to do
• Develop clarity of thought
• Communicate better
• Be more effective at managing your thoughts, moods and behaviors
The main focus of NLP is to study and understand the factors that lead to success and failure in any given situation.
Understanding What NLP Is
In neuro linguistic programming, ‘neuro’ relates to the brain and its network of nerve cells. These nerve cells perform the function of sending, receiving and storing signals that translate into information for the brain. ‘Linguistic’ relates to the use of language. Thus, neuro-linguistics is about how the nervous system and language influence each other. Programming means carrying out a planned sequence of actions to achieve an expected result. We can therefore define Neuro-linguistic programming as the use of language in a planned manner to get a pre-planned result.
We tend to react to various things based on our past experiences and feelings. Thus two people could see the same thing; yet react totally differently to it. It depends on what kind of experience they have had in the past about this. When they process information about what they see mentally, the factors that play a role are experiences both good and bad, their opinions and value systems, etc. As a result, the interpretation of what they see can be totally different.
NLP therefore seeks to find what makes top performers tick. Based on this, models are made and methods are worked out through which the same results can be achieved with average performers. So, if you wanted to, for example, find out someone’s proficiency in mental mathematics, you would need to find out how he or she does it using effective communication so that you do not lead them. Thus, effective communication skills are an essential element of NLP.
The Ingredients of NLP
• Rather than going into too much technical detail, we can summarize by saying that NLP is made up of the following ‘ingredients’:
• A set of beliefs that guides you on communicating with people
• A clear-cut model for questioning and listening skills
• An approach to influencing skills, language and metaphor usage that draws from the area of clinical hypnosis
• An effective group of exercises that assist in behavior change in people
• Powerful techniques for rapport building
NLP is mainly to do with how people do things and not the rationale behind what they do. So if someone finds it difficult to play an instrument, NLP will identify the limiting factors that are preventing the person from playing the instrument, rather than why the person is not learning. Once these limiting factors are known the next step is to get rid of them so that learning results.
The History of NLP
NLP had its birth in the 1970s when Richard Bandler, a psychology student and John Grinder, a linguist together came up with the approach. The two of them observed that people with similar education, background, training and experience varied in their performance. This led them to research what differentiated the effective, successful people from their mediocre counterparts. The idea was to make a model out of their findings so that it could be duplicated in those who were mediocre to achieve success.
They studied the behavior and communication characteristics of these effective people. This helped them create a pattern of thinking that contributed to the individual’s success. The assumption was, that the brain is capable of learning patterns of behavior to produce positive physical and emotional results. This came to be known as Neuro Linguistic programming.
Bandler and Grinder explored different techniques and skills and with a group, began to develop different approaches and models, in their quest to figure out what worked and what did not. From these, one model, called the Meta Model, which turned out to be a very powerful tool in problem-solving. Around 1974, the first ever NLP book called ‘The Structure of Magic’ was published.
Subsequently, Bandler and Grinder modelled world famous hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson and the way he used metaphors and stories to assist people in ridding themselves of phobias etc. the Milton Model was thus born emphasizing on the role language plays in influencing people. Workshops were run, resulting in an NLP book for the layperson called Frogs into Princes, which explained what NLP was all about and how it could be used effectively. Gradually, NLP evolved to become even more specialized and today, it has its applications in sales, training, management, coaching, therapy and almost every area where effective communication plays a role.
How NLP Works
The basis for NLP is that we reveal the way we subconsciously see our problems through the words we use. A skilled neuro linguistic practitioner is capable of analyzing each word or phrase used to describe the state of the person’s health. Facial expressions and body movements are also examined. Once problems in the individual’s perception are identified, the practitioner’s next step is to help understand the root cause. Following this, thoughts and mental associations are remodelled to deal with preconceived notions that might be the obstacles to the person’s success. Finally, NLP will help rid the person of these negative traits and replace them with positive thoughts and patterns, which in turn, will help achieve positive results.
NLP presupposes several things. The emphasis is on concept that should work rather than concepts likely to work. So if you are trying something and it doesn’t work, then obviously you should try something that does. Since people are different from one another it is important to be flexible. The focus of NLP is results.
NLP is powerful. Most of the techniques work best when tried with faith and with the right attitude. For example, if you said ‘I will be better’ is a sad tone of voice and a physical stance to match, obviously the progress is going to be slow, since the faith is missing. Instead, if you had a mental image of what you intend to become, associated a similar time when you did get better and go on to say it with belief, then you are likely to put in the right effort and reach your goal.
How NLP Can Make A Difference In Our Life
To have NLP work for us, we must understand our personal map of reality and make the change in order to get what we want. NLP gives you maps used by successful people, and by adopting the same thing, you too can achieve what you want to achieve by emulating a similar thought and behavior pattern.
Thus, NLP can play a vital role in improving our relationships, whether personal, intimate or professional. We get the tools we need in order to build the connection with ourselves, as well as with others. The interesting thing is that we have probably used similar techniques without being aware that it is NLP. So NLP is a toolbox with a variety of tools that can help with various situations to make them better. Here are a few situations to illustrate how NLP makes a difference for the better.
If you are involved in sales, you will know that rapport building is a vital skill where you put the other person totally at ease so that you can get along with them and thereafter be successful in what you set out to do. Those who cannot build rapport cannot sell. To probe and understand what the prospective customers wants, the sales person can use the effective NLP “Meta Model’ of questioning. Sales people need to be motivated and NLP provides the tools that help in self-motivation as well as motivating others thereby taking the person’s levels of energy to a lasting higher plane.
People management calls for a variety of skills. NLP helps managers understand what motivates others, so that they can manage them better, encouraging them to give optimum performance. Management involves change management where employees must be eased into change and made to realize that it will benefit them. NLP tools enable effective change management.
Customer support personnel have the job of finding out what the customer wants and then making sure that these needs are met. If the manager sees the customer as a nuisance, this attitude filters through to the rest of the team and spoils the company’s reputation. NLP is very effective in training customer staff to be more customer-orientated. Customer service personnel can be coached to develop rapport building and probing skills that can be used positively.
Sportsmen need to be highly motivated so that they can always show their best performance. While most athletes do show outstanding performance, they must be able to do this whenever they want to. With NLP a model of excellence can be repeated over and over. Since athletes must be motivated and develop the determination to focus on their goals, NLP can give coaches a tool to ensure that the athletes make the best use of their inner resources to give the best performance at all times.
Training does not stop with teaching someone how to do something. It goes far beyond this where the trainer not only helps the learner through the process of learning, but also does it in a way that has the maximum effect.
NLP has the tools to improve confidence, make you more creative and imaginative so that you can produce more ideas. With the help of NLP you can increase your confidence by recognizing what stops you from reaching your set goals. If they are limiting beliefs, then NLP helps get over these. NLP improves memory skills and helps build a strong base of positive beliefs and methods that work, with the help of these memory techniques.
Neuro linguistic programming is thus a minute study of our subjective experiences. Since it is subjectivity that determines our individuality, even if we go through experiences similar to others’, it is the way we perceive these experiences that differentiates us from others. Several workshops are run by organizations with experienced NLP therapists and practitioners with the aim to help people cultivate the kind of perception they want, to build the skills they want and to achieve the performance they want. Used in the right manner, NLP is a powerful approach that can make a major difference in our lives and in the way we communicate.