What do NLP techniques, applications, and models have in common? What makes them NLP?
Not a core theory of how the mind works. NLP doesn’t have one.
Not field of application. NLP gets used for therapy, business, sales, seduction, negotiation, writing, sports, education, personal coaching, and more.
Not origins or developers. Lots of people developed and expanded NLP. Many NLP models (including the first formal NLP pattern, the Meta-Model) got imported into NLP from other disciplines or modeled from experts in other fields.
Given that, what makes a model or technique an NLP model or technique?
If you’re like most NLP Practitioners I talk with, your training included a lot of elicitation, and little or no NLP modeling.
That’s unfortunate, because modeling is the core skill of NLP. In fact, Richard Bandler and John Grinder used it to create Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP’s rich array of techniques, models, and applications got developed and refined using modeling.
How ironic that NLPers so rarely learn NLP’s core skill and strategy. But fortunately…
Today I’m going to remind you of a simple NLP pattern that can help you:
- Make friends and keep them
- Become more popular and attractive to others
- Get dates and keep partners
- Reduce conflict and negativity in your life
- Get more support from others
- Keep people around you happier
You already know this skill. You learned it during NLP training, and use it during interventions.
But you probably haven’t generalized it to everyday life. (Most NLPers don’t.) This subtle shift in language can make a big difference.
This is an NLP modeling, research, and development blog. In a previous post I defined NLP modeling. In future articles, I’ll write about my process for modeling, and reveal modeling tips and tricks. Today, I discuss how NLP and modeling relate.
What is NLP?
When most people talk about NLP, they mean:
- NLP techniques, such as anchoring, pacing and leading, and the Fast Phobia Cure;
- NLP applications, such as applying rapport skills to sales; and/or
- NLP models, such as timelines and eye access cues.
However, I and most NLP developers regard another aspect of NLP as more important:
- NLP modeling, NLP’s process for figuring out the specifics of how someone does a skill in enough detail that other people can achieve similar results.
In a previous post, I discussed the problems of learning skills and attitudes from role models who aren’t competent. In this post I’ll discuss how to find real experts to learn from.
What makes an expert?
To find good exemplars (examples of a skill or ability) to learn from, evaluate their results. Ask:
- How good are the person’s actual results? It doesn’t matter if Rowena thinks she is the world expert in good relationships; it matters whether she has good relationships. Judge only by results, not by what you, she, or other people think will work, does work, or should work.
- Does this exemplar get consistently great results? Someone who has excellent relationship skills will tend to have lots of good relationships: with their spouse, parents, children, friends, neighbors, etc. They’ll also have minimal problems with bad relationships, quarrels, firings, and people doing nasty things to them.
Imagine that you are about to learn to drive race cars or speed boats. You probably wouldn’t pick as your driving teacher:
- The town drunk
- A blind person
- The neighbor who has crashed their car into every trash can and sign pole in the neighborhood.
And yet most people learned at least one important life skill from someone that unqualified to teach it.
Definition of NLP modeling
NLP modeling is a methodology for turning a skill that one person can do into a “recipe” that other people can follow to achieve similar results.
For instance, Richard Bandler famously developed the NLP Fast Phobia Cure by modeling people who used to have phobias, but had gotten over them. Many of NLP’s therapeutic techniques were modeled from successful therapists — most famously Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erickson.
An NLP “recipe” for a skill is called a model.
It always amazes me that NLP, a field that studies and teaches good communication, uses so much confusing jargon. Including the name “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” itself, of course…
I like jargon — when it’s useful. Words like “submodalities” and “anchor” express distinctions that otherwise might take a paragraph to explain.
However, I object to jargon that causes communication problems.
As an NLP modeler, I’ve learned to ask “How do people do that?” about nearly everything. Often the most mundane, taken-for-granted behaviors yield the most surprising and intriguing results.
Unresourcefulness, for example. It’s not surprising that people can get unresourceful when they have no clue how to do something, or have failed in the past. Especially if the task or project is important, or has large consequences.
It is surprising that people get unresourceful about skills they know they can do, and have done successfully many times before.
How a person structures “now” on their timeline has a big effect on their quality of life. Two important distinctions about now are:
- the degree to which the person is “in time” or “observing time”, and
- the physical size of “now.”
If now is physically small, the person is likely to feel pressured or harassed, as though there is literally not enough time to get things done.
If now is spacious, they are likely to experience of having plenty of time, even when they have a lot to do and not much actual time available.
If now is enormous, the future may seem irrelevant because it is so small and far away. This works well for meditating, but can cause significant problems in day-to-day life.