Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), the brilliant
quick-change technology developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder,
has such broad applications that many practitioners find it somewhat
difficult to define. But in essence, NLP can be labeled the psychology of
One definition of the term 'Neurolinguistic Programming' is that it refers to
the effect of words on the nervous system, both the words a person uses when
they speak to themselves and the words they use when communicating with
For example, if I accuse another person of being
stupid, the resulting negative effect may reverberate far
beyond the present moment.
If I'm a significant person in that listener's life, my words may have the
effect of programming the person to perceive themselves as stupid and
therefore to act in stupid ways. The more emotion I use when I make my
accusation, the more powerful the effect on my victim.
In similar fashion, if I substitute the word 'beautiful' for 'stupid', my
words will have a positive effect on the nervous system of the listener. In
a nutshell, words are powerful tools so it's important to use them
Another definition that emerged from the early days of NLP is:
NLP is a methodology that leaves behind a trail of
So what is this methodology? In a word - modeling. Because Neurolinguistic
Programming evolved from a study of excellence, it is based on the premise that
human beings who excel in any area can be studied and the processes they use
taught to other people. Many of the early NLP processes are strategies learned
from role models and refined by Bandler and Grinder.
AN OVERVIEW OF NLP
While some NLP practitioners decry the reliance on techniques, for many people
caught in the throes of a crippling problem the techniques are lifesavers. NLP
Practitioner and author Joseph O'Connor claims that Neurolinguistic Programming
filled a gap in the psychological thinking of the 1970s, which was dominated by
the behaviorists and the humanists:
What was conspicuously missing was the "how to" – the
capability level. NLP stepped into this gap by providing step-by-step
procedures to make excellence easily learnable.
What follows is a very brief look at the various aspects of Neurolinguistic
Programming. While this information isn't a prerequisite for using NLP as part
of your wealth creation strategy, reading the following summary may help you
decide if you want to pursue the subject further. NLP trainers offer
Practitioner, Master Track and Trainer's Trainings around the world, as well as
a variety of shorter courses on the many sub-categories of Neurolinguistic
Programming. Most of these trainings can be found via the Internet.
Neurolinguistic Programming emerged from a study conducted in the early
1970s in Santa Cruz, California. John Grinder, a linguistics professor at the
University of Santa Cruz, and Richard Bandler, a mathematician, computer
programmer and psychology student, received a grant to examine the attributes
of excellence. The subjects they chose were three of the legendary therapists
of the time – Milton Erickson, the world's leading medical hypnotist, Virginia
Satir, a pioneer in family therapy, and Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt
Through their acute powers of observation, Bandler and Grinder were able to
identify the key verbal and non-verbal skills utilized by each therapist to
precipitate a life-changing experience in their clients. By defining these
actions, Bandler and Grinder were able to duplicate the techniques themselves.
Within a short time, they were achieving the same miraculous results with their
subjects as the three role models did with their clients.
Bandler and Grinder then began teaching the skills in workshops and seminars
and Neurolinguistic Programming was born.
But NLP is not simply about effective therapeutic techniques. What it really
promotes is the concept that any activity in which another human being
excels can be modeled or duplicated, providing you discover the key
ingredients or strategies that the person (or role model) uses.
Since its beginnings, NLP's modeling techniques have been applied to a variety
of areas, including
There are very few human activities that can't be modeled using Neurolinguistic
When you find a model who excels in the area you wish to master, you can
utilize a number of NLP techniques to adopt their behavior. The New Behavior
Generator is one visualization technique for achieving this. Deep Trance
Identification is a hypnotic approach to modeling, while Leslie
Cameron-Bandler's Emprint Method is a step-by-step approach to eliciting a role
model's strategy through interviewing.
The purpose behind studying mentors is to discover their strategy or recipe
for achieving the results they do. When all the steps are revealed, they can be
duplicated, leading to similar results. There is a strategy behind every human
activity; the key is to find the most effective ones and model those.
An Owner's Manual For The Brain
Through their studies into sensory experience, Bandler and Grinder have
synthesized some important discoveries about how the brain functions.
One basic premise is that we filter all incoming information through our past
experiences and the resulting belief systems, perceiving what fits in with what
we believe and ignoring or rationalizing away anything that does not. This
internal blueprint is labeled our 'map of the world'. Neurolinguistic
Programming helps people pay attention to information they habitually ignore
that might actually improve their situation. By enlarging and modifying our
maps of the world, we can live more fulfilling lives.
One Neurolinguistic Programming premise is that people work perfectly – they
automatically create their worlds based on their internal maps. The problem
occurs when they don't like the results they get. And the solution is to change
the internal map.
Neurolinguistic Programming has also discovered that people generally have
all the resources they need for most situations; they just don't have access to
them at the time when they need them. Physiology and anchoring techniques are
methods that provide the necessary access.
One of the key areas that emerged from Bandler and Grinder's study was the
importance of the five senses. They are the means through which we process all
information, and we can use this knowledge to get whatever we want.
People store and process information visually (in images), auditorally (in
words and sounds) or kinesthetically (through feelings). You can discover your
own and other people's preferred systems by asking specific questions,
observing eye movements and listening to language patterns. This information
can be utilized for positive results in therapy, sales, and in any human
One of the central conclusions that emerged from the original study was the
importance of establishing rapport. The powerful techniques used by Erickson,
Satir and Perls, as well as those of other master communicators, are taught in
most NLP trainings. Rapport is created through physiology, language, voice tone
and visualization techniques.
Pacing And Leading
One of the intentions behind rapport is to meet other people at their map or
model of the world and respect their individual differences, rather than trying
to impose your own model of the world on them. This does not preclude helping
people to access more useful resources in themselves. You can do this by first
creating rapport with the person and then gently leading them to a more
The visual system is favored by approximately 45% of the population.
Neurolinguistic Programming offers several ways to turbo-charge visualizations,
one of which is the use of submodalities. Changing the color, distance, sounds,
and position of internal images can dramatically increase their potency. From
these observations, NLP developed the swish patterns, a very dynamic form of
visualization. Many legendary Neurolinguistic Programming processes - the
Erasure Technique, the Phobia Cure, Change Personal History and Conflict
Resolution - are all visualization techniques.
Language is a large component of the Neurolinguistic Programming approach.
Bandler and Grinder originally developed a process called the Meta Model, a
series of provocative questions aimed at discovering what was missing in a
person's internal map of the world. They also developed the Milton Model, based
on Milton Erickson's hypnotic language patterns, to create the opposite effect.
Instead of helping a person get more specific, this use of generalized language
effectively leads the client into generating his or her own solutions.
NLP also uses internal dialogue to help people change an unwanted situation. As
opposed to affirmations, questions are utilized to elicit a person's belief
system as well as changing their emotional state.
Through exploring the correlation between body posture and state,
Neurolinguistic Programming has developed a number of techniques for changing
emotional states through physical movement. Physiology, anchoring and the
rehearsal techniques all utilize this premise.
Neurolinguistic Programming uses the notion of parts to explain the
often-conflicting impulses we have about following through on a particular
action. One part of us might want to go forward while another wants to hang
back. NLP deals with this conflict through techniques such as Reframing, Parts
Integration and conducting a Parts Party.
One central aim of NLP is to create congruency, or rapport with yourself. When
all parts of a person are in alignment, there are no obstacles to taking action
and pursuing whatever outcomes the person desires.
Rewriting The Past
In keeping with the concept of updating our internal maps of the world to
more useful ones, Neurolinguistic Programming utilizes a number of techniques
to change how past events are stored in the brain. The purpose is to modify the
affects of stored memory on present behavior, as well as nullify conflicts
arising from unresolved issues from the past. A skilled NLP practitioner can
achieve this without eliciting any details of the actual memory involved.
Bandler and Grinder also focused on the brain's ability to absorb new
information and learnings through storytelling. Metaphor is an important part
of Neurolinguistic Programming and is utilized in a number of effective
Another important NLP discovery is that people store time spatially:
- People who visualize their past behind them, the present in front of
them and the future somewhere ahead of the present may have a difficult
time with planning. They can only focus on the present moment.
- Some people imagine their past directly in front of them, with the
present and future veering off to one side. They literally can't focus too
well on the present or future because the past is intruding too much on
- Other people imagine time as a straight line in front of them. While
they may be excellent at planning and being objective, they may be less
capable of enjoying the present moment.
Using the Neurolinguistic Programming timeline processes to change the way
a person stores time will have a dramatic affect of their lives.
Along with teaching effective goal-setting strategies, Neurolinguistic
Programming focuses on the ecology or resulting effects of goals on both
yourself and the people around you. A person's values and beliefs must also be
taken into account to ensure that the goal does not conflict with deeply held
convictions or ideals.
NLP also utilizes the concept of 'chunking down' in several ways: first, to
move from the general to the particular, thereby becoming more specific about
what you want, and secondly, to break down large goals into smaller, more
attainable steps, which is an effective way of overcoming resistance. Other
Neurolinguistic Programming processes can also be utilized to enhance
motivation and to bypass resistance.
Neurolinguistic Programming uses the hypnotic techniques of Milton Erickson
in both formal hypnosis and informal communication. All the NLP techniques lend
themselves to enhancing the hypnotic process.
Neurolinguistic Programming does not promote a specific belief system or set
of values. It simply offers a series of effective techniques to change what
doesn't work; it is up to the individual to decide what he or she wishes to
change and then to make the changes.
But NLP offers a series of presuppositions or working hypotheses – ideas that
are helpful to adopt in order to effectively apply the techniques. Rather than
decide if the ideas are 'true' or not, the focus is on whether they are useful.
Some key presuppositions are:
- All human behavior is purposeful
- All of a person's parts have a positive intention
- People do the best they can with the resources they have available at
- People respond to their maps of reality, not reality itself
- We already have all the resources we need; we just need to learn how to
- If we don't have a necessary resource, we can create it
- Choice is better than non-choice
A number of Neurolinguistic Programming techniques lend themselves to
metaphysical exploration. The Change Personal History and Timeline techniques
can be adapted to include past lives and genealogical history. The Questions
techniques can take a person to very deep meditative levels. Visualization
techniques can be used to explore the periods 'between lives'. The focus is on
whether the process fits with the client's belief system and offers a useful
result, not on whether the concepts are factually based or not.
Remedial Versus Generative Change
While Neurolinguistic Programming is extremely effective in a therapeutic
setting, there is an underlying trend away from the level of 'fixing problems'
towards a more expansive objective of broadening the person's choices and
enabling them to live a more fulfilling life. This is defined as generative
change and is the ultimate goal of any NLP intervention.
While NLP students have been criticized for treating the subject like a new
religion, their enthusiasm will become understandable if you begin to explore
the field for yourself. It is so all encompassing, touching on so many aspects
of the human experience, that a person would be hard-pressed to explore all the
ramifications in several lifetimes. The delight in discovering such a treasure
trove of information can temporarily transform the most levelheaded scholar
into a babbling devotee. Eventually this transmutes into a deep appreciation
and respect for the material.
Bandler and Grinder encouraged their students to take the NLP methodology out
into the world and use it to discover their own techniques. Many of them did,
taking Neurolinguistic Programming into new areas and occasionally changing the
label as they molded it to their own unique viewpoints. NLP has now infiltrated
so many other forms of therapy, athletics training, sales training and assorted
disciplines that often only a trained practitioner will recognize its
That's as it should be. Bandler and Grinder learned from the masters, and in
the process became masters themselves. Their genius was to see beyond the
practice of excellence to its structure, and to make that structure available
to the rest of us. That their students have taken on board their mandate and
become creative with their discoveries is a testament to their skills as
teachers and role models.
Your Next Step:
- If you're ready to attend your first NLP event, you can't go past the
master, Anthony Robbins. Despite labeling his techniques
'neuro-associative conditioning', much of what Tony teaches is
NLP-based, enhanced by his twenty plus years of experience working with
thousands of people.
- A more recent addition to the NLP training field is Chris Howard, a
charismatic presenter who offers workshops in the USA and Australia. You
can check out the schedule for his FREE 2 day seminars at his web site,
Power Of Influence. Like Tony, Chris's focus is on creating wealth
and success through adjusting your mindset.
- Another excellent wealth creation trainer is Canadian T. Harv Eker, who
blends a variety of quick-change methods in his popular workshop, The
Millionaire Mind. Check out his web site at Secrets
of the Millionaire Mind to see if he's still offering two free
tickets to his workshop with the purchase of his recent book.
- Meet more of the geniuses behind NLP on our NLP Mentors
- Browse our list of recommended NLP Authors on the NLP Resources
- Find more books on NLP at the Amazon web site:
This site is purely educational and we make no claims or
guarantees with regard to the information presented.
Please consult a certified NLP practitioner for
individual coaching in the use of NLP techniques. We
strongly advise consulting a financial industry
professional before embarking on a wealth creation