NLP – The Simplified Version
How can NLP help me?
There have been many books written about NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) its origins, usage and benefits. This short article is aimed at people who have come across the term NLP and want to know, in simple terms, what it is and what it does. One NLP myth that you may have heard is that “NLP is therapy”. Well it isn’t. This confusion is understandable because many NLP techniques can be, and are, used in therapeutic practice. This is because NLP techniques can help improve how the brain works and enables the production of good brain chemicals. This enables NLP techniques to be used as a part of a therapy treatment for overcoming such things as phobias. However NLP skills can equally be effective in, say, enabling students to be able to learn more effectively and elegantly. Over the years the use of NLP has spread and particular techniques have been developed to help specific groups of people e.g. learners, athletes, workers, families and so on. However the growth and success of NLP now means that the various skills and techniques can be used to improve all aspects of life. It is fair to say that some of the techniques have been used to help people before NLP was developed, however, in those days it may have been known as “common sense”, “sound judgement” or intuition!
The term Neuro Linguistic Programming signposts the areas in which the techniques are deployed. Neuro refers to the brain, Linguistic being to do with language and how it is used. Programming refers to a concept of being able to reprogram the way our brain works. Some of these areas may initially be worrisome as we generally know very little about the brain and how it works. So be re-assured that NLP does not delve into the workings of the brain in either a medical or psychological way. NLP Practitioner Training is concerned about getting an individual’s brain working in a beneficial way taking into account the wishes and desires of the individual and ensuring that the outcomes are ecologically sound, safe and beneficial impact.
So how is this achieved? The co-creators of NLP (Richard Bandler and John Grinder) started to make their NLP discoveries by studying and modelling the behaviour and work of other great experts and respected leaders in various fields of work that involved communication and interacting with others. Bandler & Grinder initially studied the language patterns used by these specialists and from this derived a model of how we use language to build up our perception of our reality of the world. NLP practitioners use this and other NLP linguistic techniques to help them when they work with others. This can be illustrated by some simple examples. If a person says “I can’t do maths” then they are missing bits out of the statement. Do they really mean all maths, they can’t even count money? NLP uses techniques which delve into what was actually meant by the statement. Other NLP linguistic models serve to influence a listener. For example the statement “Will you do your homework before tea or just before you go to bed” makes a presumption to the listener that they will do their homework. NLP linguistic techniques are very powerful and can be used to improve the impact of what is being said or change what is being perceived.
Some of the interesting and developmental areas of NLP work have been the understanding of differing ways we process, recall and use information. We not only recall what is said but we also are capable of interpreting and remembering information from all of our senses. The realisation that such things as visual images, sounds, smells, taste and what we feel are part of our learning behaviour brain process means that they can dramatically impact on our perception of situations. For example how many times do people re-live an awkward situation by visualising something different happening or having a small nagging voice saying “what… if… “. Just as linguistics can change the perception of the spoken word then it is possible to modify the information from our senses. NLP techniques work to positively and permanently influence these sensory information channels.
There are many other areas of NLP technologies that a skilled practitioner will use. These will include the ability of being able to manage a positive state so that it generates the desired effect in others. Linked to this is the capacity to create and generate good feelings and enable these good feelings to be accessed at any time. Another important NLP area is the use of the concept of time and how this can be used to improve the future and limit any negative influences from the past.
Finally there is a link between some NLP techniques and hypnosis. This is not to say that all NLP is hypnosis! Consider that hypnosis is a state which we all use sometimes ( you may call it day dreaming, meditating, or the like ) to relax, maybe fantasise about great things. It is recognised that the visionary Leonardo Da Vinci used this state to visualise some of his greatest inventions. In a similar way NLP can use relaxation and suggestion techniques to help re-enforce any NLP learning that have taken place.