NLP Made Simple (Part 1 of 2)
So, What Is NLP?
NLP, Neuro-linguistic Programming, has been around since the 1970s. It was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California in the USA. These founders claimed there was an intrinsic connection between how our brains work, our spoken words and our behaviours. NLP concepts are based on the assumption that our behaviours and habits are learned through our experiences. NLP tells us that these behaviours and habits can be changed to reach goals or eliminate unwanted thoughts and emotions.
Increasingly used across the globe as an approach to psychotherapy and personal development, NLP has been shown to be successful in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and disorders. Phobias, anxiety, depression, nervous habits such as tics, allergies and many other neurologically based illnesses have all shown improvements after treatment using NLP. Some practitioners claim that NLP can be successful after just one session.
NLP is used extensively as a stand-alone therapeutic approach, and also as an addition to traditional hypnotherapy. It’s also a popular tool used by life coaches and professionals delivering motivational seminars, marketing and sales training.
The acronym NLP comes from Neuro, neurological process; linguistic, language and Programming, the human brain’s ability to reprogramme learned behaviours.
So, what are the basics of NLP and what do they mean for us? In the following two articles, we review some common NLP terms along with some examples of how the described technique may be used. In this first article, we look at The Modalities, Rapport, Incongruence, Anchoring and Leading. Then in the next article, we continue to look at Multiple Description, Framing, Association, Disassociation and, finally, Future Pacing.
1. The Modalities
In NLP, the term refers to how your brain processes information and the way in which you think. Knowing how someone is likely to think enables NLP practitioners to utilise that approach when designing therapy.
According to the original observations made by Bandler and Grinder, your eyes move in certain directions as you access various information within your brain. This is one of the ways an experienced NLP practitioner can tell what your preferred modality is. The modalities are as follows:
VR – Visual Remembered – remembering images seen before.
VC – Visual Constructed – imagining images not seen before.
AR – Auditory Remembered – remembering sounds heard before.
AC – Auditory Constructed – imagining sounds not heard before.
K – Kinesthetic – Imagining how something feels.
AD – Auditory Digital – Talking to yourself in your head (internal dialogue).
Rapport is the easy style of conversation that develops when two people are similar to each other. According to a study by Mehrabian and A and R Ferris in 1967, 38% of communication is tone of voice and 55% is physiology. This implies that most of what is communicated between two people is outside of what is actually verbalised. Body language, then, is extremely important. Always be aware of what your body is telling someone as much as what you are actually saying!
Incongruence refers to a feeling of internal conflict and not being truly sure of your own motivations. People who experience incongruence often feel very hesitant about life decisions and unsure of their commitment to aspects of their personal and professional life. This can manifest as saying one thing, yet doing another. Sometimes someone can verbally express one opinion whilst subconsciously non-verbally saying something entirely different. Incongruence points to areas of your psyche that need to be ‘worked on’.
Anchors are like triggers which cause a certain emotion or state of mind. An anchor can be a sight, sound, smell, sensation or taste which immediately causes you to feel a certain way. Many anchors are involuntary. For example, the smell of cough medicine may instantly evoke childhood memories of feeling unwell.
Anchors can also be voluntarily established to create positive states of mind. For example, when you feel particularly happy, you could get into the habit of touching your thumbs together. Repeating this pattern of behaviour pairs the emotion, the happiness, with the physical sensation, the thumbs touching. NLP suggests that the feeling of happiness can be stimulated at will in the future by using the anchor of touching the thumbs together.
In NLP terms, leading is linked closely with rapport. If a good rapport is established between two people, one of them is able to change some aspect of their behaviour or speech and the other will subconsciously follow them and match their behaviour. This is particularly seen between a good NLP practitioner and their clients. For example, using leading as a technique, the practitioner may slow their speech down, prompting the client to do the same. This may help the client to establish a feeling of calmness and self-control.
This technique can be used in daily situations, such as job interviews, to gain control over the pace of the conversation.
NLP is a fascinating tool with many applications. There are hundreds of techniques used by skilled practitioners. However, by simply familiarising yourself with a few of the key basic techniques listed here and in the next article, it’s possible to make significant improvements to how you experience life events. Our perception of both ourselves, and our external world, shapes what we expect to happen. By changing our expectations, it’s possible to positively influence the outcomes of many situatiions.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, read the next one here.