You might have heard about neuro linguistic programming but may be unsure what it is, or what is the main goal of NLP?
We’re going to take a look at this communication and personal development tool to see what it involves, who uses it and what its main purpose is.
We’ll take a look at the techniques employed by practitioners, its benefits and some of its criticisms.
What Is The Purpose Of NLP?
Neuro linguistic programming was created in the 1970s by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. They claim that NLP is a way of communicating that affects behavior both in yourself and in others.
It is the study of successful people and replicating their behavioral patterns and thinking in order to achieve similarly successful outcomes.
The use of similar language to that used by successful people is seen as a way of modeling their behavior and success.
NLP practitioners see all human action as potentially positive so if something fails it simply provides an opportunity for more information and learning.
The techniques used by NLP practitioners include developing a rapport with others, modeling your behavior, mirroring, and reassessing your beliefs and thoughts.
It is believed that there are natural hierarchies of communication, learning and change.
These are purpose and spirituality, identity, beliefs and values, capabilities and skills, behaviors and environment.
The idea behind each level is to direct and organize the information below it. So making a change at a lower level can cause a change at a higher level.
But it also works the other way, a change at a higher level will cause a change in the lower levels.
Building rapport is about connecting with people naturally. We all like to think we’re good at this but on occasion things may not go as well as we would like.
The NLP approach for building rapport is to synchronize the style of your communication with the person you are conversing with.
This develops trust and helps negotiate opposing views in order to mitigate conflict and find some middle ground.
Rapport building includes adapting to someone’s expressions and pace of conversation, persuading and leading, backtracking, making your position clear, active listening and remaining nonjudgmental.
A meta model involves asking questions about how you perceive reality and your own common beliefs. This NLP technique rests on the idea that everybody uses thought filters or cognitive distortions.
These create the impression that you, other people and events are more negative than they really are. Typically people have a reaction to more negative assumptions than to the actual reality of a situation.
This reaction is then reinforced with the language that you use.
The meta model consists of asking questions about yourself or others to contrast what is being said or thought with evidence.
If you think someone constantly interrupts you, consider how many times they have actually done that in your current conversation.
Modeling is when we recreate someone else’s way of being or their behavior to make our own experience similar. It is like imitating someone with the intention of replicating their success or achievements.
The mark of success when using modeling is at the point that the modeler achieves similar results in the same time frame and context to those of the exemplar.
NLP modeling is the core activity of neuro linguistic programming and led to the applications of NLP that currently exist.
The NLP technique of mirroring uses both nonverbal and verbal cues. It means matching someone’s behavior and posture as though you were looking in a mirror. It is one of the main techniques when trying to build a rapport with someone.
it is not the same as matching someone’s movements or posture as that means using the same side of the body whereas in mirroring you are using the opposite side.
So if someone crosses their legs with their right leg on top you would cross yours with your left leg on top.
The meta position in neuro linguistic programming is the practice of removing yourself from a system in order to gain information. It allows you to talk about your beliefs, actions, and behavior in the third person.
This lets you become more detached from your position and less emotional too.
By safely and consciously removing yourself from a situation using the meta position NLP practitioners say it is possible to achieve better insight into the situation.
Six Step Reframing
The six step reframing is a strong tool in neuro linguistic programming. It helps practitioners to recognize, express and negotiate with their inner conflicts.
It involves reassessing your thoughts and beliefs so as to look at them from a different angle.
Reframing is cited as a good way to establish a better connection within yourself. It is also thought to help you to take a more rational approach to a situation or experience.
Benefits Of Neuro Linguistic Programming
Research in 2015 demonstrated that the use of some of the tools of neuro linguistic programming within a combined therapeutic approach can be helpful for some people.
A study in 2010 also found that neuro linguistic techniques could be helpful in treating people with phobias quite rapidly.
The practice of NLP has been used in both professional and personal spheres including education, business, medicine, law and relationships.
NLP practitioners consider that it helps you to control your experiences rather than merely perceiving them as something that happens to you. For those who believe in neuro linguistic programming creating your own reality is something that is possible.
NLP Vs Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt and change. It involves adaptive functional and structural changes to the brain in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli.
This happens following an injury such as a stroke or trauma or can result from experience and learning.
There are two types of neuroplasticity, structural and functional. Structural plasticity comes from experiences or memories which changes a brain’s physical structure.
Functional plasticity refers to post trauma or damage when brain functions move from a damaged area to an undamaged area.
While structural plasticity is what is occurring when we learn something new it is not something that is unique to neuro linguistic programming and happens whenever we learn or experience something new.
Criticism Of NLP
Neuro linguistic programming was very popular in the 1970s and subsequent years, but there is little scientific evidence to back up its claims. Limited research has been done on NLP’s use as a therapy for mental health issues.
Practitioners claim that it can be helpful for some people, but this is purely anecdotal evidence and has not been proven through research and study.
There is criticism that there are relatively few NLP techniques and that some even overlap, so its applicability is even further restricted.
For the most part NLP seems to still be included in some sales and marketing training and offered as a self help technique.
We hope that this guide to the main goal of NLP has proven informative and helpful for you and given you some insight into the practice of neuro linguistic programming.