In communication it is usually assumed that you are transferring information to another person. You
have information that 'means' something to the other person and you intend for the other person to
understand what it is you intend to communicate.
Frequently a person assumes that if they 'say what they mean to say', their responsibility for the
communication is over. Effective communicators realise that their responsibility doesn't end when
they finish talking. They realise that, for practical purposes, what they communicate is what the
other person thinks they say and not what they intend to say. Often the two are quite different.
In communication it is important what the other person thinks you say and how they respond. This
requires that the person pays attention to the response they are getting. If it is not the response
they want, then they need to vary their own communication until they get the desired response.
There are several major sources of 'misunderstanding' in communication. The first arises from the
fact that each person has a different life experience associated with each word in the language.
Frequently, what one person means by a word (their complex equivalence for that word) may be
something different from what another person means by it. The second misunderstanding arises
from the failure to realise that a person's tone of voice and facial expression also communicate
information, and that the other person may respond to these as much as they do to what is said. As
the old saying goes: 'Actions speak louder than words,' and in NLP people are trained that when the
two are in conflict, the person should pay more attention to the actions.
nlp presupposition 2 - map and territory
Good communicators realise that the representations they use to organise their experience of the
world ('map') are not the world ('territory').
It is important to distinguish between several semantic levels. First there is the world. Second
comes the person's experience of the world. This experience is the person's 'map' or 'model' of the
world and is different for each person. Every individual creates a unique model of the world and
thus lives in a somewhat different reality from everyone else. You do not operate directly on the
world but on your experience of it. This experience may or may not be correct. To the extent that
your experience has a similar structure to the world it is correct and this accounts for its usefulness.
A person's experience, map, model or representation of the world determines how they will
perceive the world and what choices they will see as available to them. Many NLP techniques involve
you changing your representation of the world to make it more useful and to bring it more into line
with the way the world actually is.
nlp presupposition 3 - language and experience
Language is a secondary representation of experience.
Language is at a third semantic level. First is the stimulus coming from the word. Second is the
person's representation of experience of that stimulus. Third is the person's description of that
experience by way of language. Language is not experience but a representation of it. Words are
merely arbitrary tokens used to represent things the person sees, hears or feels. People who speak
other languages use different words to represent the same things that English speakers see, hear
or feel. Also, since each person has a unique set of things that they have seen, heard and felt in
their lives, their words have different meanings from each of them.
People are able to communicate effectively to the degree that these meanings are similar. When
they are too dissimilar, problems in communication begin to arise.
nlp presupposition 4 - body and mind affect each other
Mind and body are parts of the same cybernetic system and affect each other. There is no separate
'mind' and no separate 'body'. Both words refer to aspects of the same 'whole' or 'gestalt', They act
as one and they influence each other in such a way that there is no separation.
Anything that happens in one part of a cybernetic system, such as a human being, will affect all
other parts of that system. This means that the way a person thinks affects how they feel and that
the condition of their physical body affects how they think. A person's perceptual input, internal
thought process, emotional process, physiological response and behavioural output all occur both
simultaneously and through time.
In practical terms, this means that a person can change how they think either by directly changing
how they think or by changing their physiology or other feelings. Likewise, a person can change
their physiology or their emotions by changing how they think. One important corollary of this, which
will be explored later, is the importance of visualisation and mental rehearsal in improving the
conduct of any activity.
nlp presupposition 5 - widest range of behaviours or choices controls the system
Control in human systems refers to the ability to influence the quality of a person's own and other
people's experience in the moment and through time.
The person with the greatest flexibility of behaviour - that is, the number of ways of interacting -
will control the system. Choice is always preferable to no choice, and more choice is always
preferable to less choice. This also relates to the third general principle of NLP, mentioned
previously. This principle is that a person needs to vary their behaviour until they get their desired
outcome. If what you are doing is not working, vary the behaviour and do something else. Anything
else is better than continuing with what doesn't work. Keep varying your behaviour until you find
something that works.
nlp presupposition 6 - behaviour and adaptation
Behaviour is geared towards adaptation. A person's behaviour is determined by the context in which
that behaviour originates.
Your reality is defined by your perceptions of the world. The behaviour a person exhibits is
appropriate to their reality. All of a person's behaviour, whether good or bad, is an adaptation.
Everything is useful in some context. All behaviour is or was adaptive, given the context in which it
was learned. In another context it may not be appropriate. People need to realise this and change
their behaviour when it is appropriate to do so.
nlp presupposition 7 - present behaviour is the best choice
Behind every behaviour is a positive intent. A person makes the best choice available to them at any
moment in time, given who the person is and based on all their life experiences and the choices
they are aware of. If offered a better choice they will take it.
In order to change someone's inappropriate behaviour it is necessary to give them other choices.
Once this is done they will behave accordingly. NLP has techniques for providing these additional
choices. Also, in NLP we never take away choices. We only provide more choices and explicitly
contextualise the existing choices.
nlp presupposition 8 - context of behaviour
You need to evaluate your behaviour in terms of what you are capable of becoming. You need to
strive to become all that you are capable of being.
nlp presupposition 9 - resources to change
People have all they need to make changes they want to make. The task is to locate or access those
resources and to make them available in the appropriate context. NLP provides techniques to
accomplish this task.
What this means in practice is that people do not need to spend time trying to gain insight into their
problems or in developing resources to deal with their problems. They already have all the
resources they need to deal with their problems. All that is necessary is to access these resources
and transfer them to the current time frame.
nlp presupposition 10 - the how of possibility
If any other human being is capable of performing some behaviour, then it is possible for you to
perform it, too. The process of determining 'how' you do it is called 'modelling', and it is the process
by which NLP came into being in the first place.
nlp presupposition 11 - behaviour speaks louder than words
Listen to what people say but pay more attention to what they do. If there is any contradiction
between the two then rely on the behaviour. Look for behavioural evidence of change and don't just
reply on people's words
nlp presupposition 12 - distinguish behaviour and self
It is useful to make a distinction between behaviour and self. In other words, just because someone
'screws up' on something it doesn't mean that they are a 'screw-up'. Behaviour is what a person
says, does or feels at any moment in time. This is not a person's self, however. A person's self is
greater than their behaviours.
nlp presupposition 13 - feedback, not failure
It is more valuable for a person to view their experience in terms of a learning frame than in terms
of a failure frame. If a person doesn't succeed in something, that doesn't mean they have failed. It
just means that they have discovered one way not to do that particular thing. The person then
needs to vary their behaviour until they find a way to succeed.
nlp techniques and definitions
NLP consists of a set of powerful techniques to effect change. Some of these techniques are as
follows, with their definitions:
The process of associating an internal response with some external trigger so that the response
may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, reaccessed by activating the trigger.
These may be naturally occurring or set up deliberately. They may be established in all
representational systems and serve to control both positive and negative internal states.
The process of associating a series of events with one specific anchor so as to strengthen the
intensity of the subject's response to a specific anchor.
A process of neutralising negative states by triggering two incompatible responses at the same
A process by which a series of anchors is created to lead from an undesired state through a series
of intermediate states to a desired state.
Being fully present in a state so as to experience the kinesthetics of it. For past states this involves
being in the experience looking from the perspective of the person's own eyes.
Recreating a past experience from the perspective of an onlooker or observer. This means the
person does not re-experience the original emotion but instead experiences the emotions of an
double kinesthetic dissociation
The process of watching yourself watching a film of a past experience. This is used in cases of
phobias and extreme psychic trauma.
The process of reading a subject's internal responses in an ongoing interaction by pairing them with
observable behavioural cues.
A process of guiding a subject to re-experience a series of past situations by the use of selective
anchoring. Resource states are developed for each situation and are installed in the subject's
repertoire in order to change the significance of the past events.
The process of establishing a relationship with a subject that is characterised by harmony,
understanding and mutual confidence. This is done by reducing to a minimum the perceived
difference at the unconscious level.
A process used to separate a problematic behaviour from the positive intention to the internal part
responsible for that behaviour. New choices of behaviour are established that maintain the positive
intent but don't have the problematic by-products.
A set of explicit mental and behavioural steps used to achieve a specific outcome. This is
represented by a specific sequence of representational systems used to carry out the specific steps.
The subclassification of external experience. The decomposing into its components of a picture,
sound or feeling. more...