Neuro Linguistic Programing or NLP
What is Neuro Linguistic Programming?
From the moment we are born right up until our last breath, we are learning. Even if we are born into the same environment as others we all learn different things and that is why, from a learning or experiencing the world point of view, no two people are the same. A very simple way of defining NLP is reprogramming your nervous system through the use of language.
NLP is good for giving you the ability to manage your internal state, helping you to be more resourceful during stressful times, giving you a higher behavioral flexibility, increasing the speed at which you learn, becoming a more influential member of your family, at work, with your friends and finally providing you with a tool you can use to model and reproduce excellence in any field. Pretty powerful heh?
As an example of reproducing excellence, Dr Richard Bandler (co-founder of NLP) and Anthony Robbins (a renowned motivational speaker) were hired by the US government to study the sharp shooting training program. At that time it took about 4 weeks to complete training and the rate of success was approx 20%. So they asked to study the 5 best sharpshooters in the US Military. They modelled their behaviour when they were shooting and were particularly interested in what they did differently from the others. They were interested in what they were seeing, feeling, hearing, how they talked to themselves, what emotional state they were in and from that they were able to shrink the program to 7 days with an 80% pass rate. So in this case, with NLP, they figured out what works and implemented it.
The map is not the territory
This is a famous NLP phrase that needs a bit of explanation. We have in front of us approximately 2 million bits of information at any given moment of the day. This is the territory. Scientists also determined that out of those 2 million we can absorb only 130,000 pieces of information. So from what we take in, we create a map in our mind and this is our representation of the world. We create this map by taking in pictures, hearing sounds, experiencing sensations or feelings, smelling, tasting and all of this becomes our representation of the world. That’s why 2 people could see the same event unfold in front of their eyes and have a completely different story to tell! So it’s our perception of reality and not reality itself that will determine our map or representation of the world. Hence why we say … The map is not the Territory !!
How do we go from 2 million to only 130,000 bits of information?
Well, very simply, all this lost information is deleted, generalized and distorted. All this sensory input is filtered in various ways by the central nervous system thereby allowing a limited amount of sensory information at any one time. Of course, this is based on what is important to you and what is not. If it is not, it gets deleted. Some information is generalized, “all sales people are like this” or “all men think that way” or “ all women like this”…. you get my drift. Finally, how we distort information, for example when we recall a conversation or explain what happened, or even when we describe what and why we want something. These filters are so important to keep us of sane mind and not become too overwhelmed by a constant flow of irrelevant information.
However, these safeguards that we put in place can also explain how people can have limitations or blockages with various aspects of their lives.
How to transform your life with these 5 NLP techniques
I am sure you have all heard of Pavlov and his dog. This Russian scientist would ring a bell just before he fed his dog. His dog would automatically associate the sound of the bell with feeding. Pavlov noticed that by just ringing the bell his dog would salivate even with no food in sight !
You can use these types of stimulus-response “anchors” yourself! The most common use of NLP anchoring is to have a way to intentionally feel resourceful in the right situations and to help you associate any desired positive emotional state or thought with a simple gesture. So any time you are feeling low you can trigger this anchor and your feelings will immediately change.
- Think of how you want to feel (e.g. confident, happy, calm, loving, etc.)
- Pick a place on your body or a gesture where you would like to place this anchor on your body. This could be grabbing your wrist, tapping your chest, a clap, an alarm, pinching your fingers, touching your knuckle or squeezing a fingernail. This physical touch will allow you to trigger the positive feeling at will. It doesn’t matter where you choose, as long as it is a unique touch that you don’t touch for anything else.
- Think of a time in the past when you felt that state (happiness for example). Mentally go back to that time and float into your body, looking through your own eyes and reliving that memory. Adjust your body language to match the memory and the state. See what you saw, hear what you heard and feel the feeling as you remember that memory. You will begin to feel that state of happiness invading you as you pay attention to all the details of that happy memory. This feeling of happiness will manifest itself, then grow and intensify, and then slowly decrease.
- Use the anchor you have picked, for example pinching your fingers, and release it when the experience is starting to fade. Then do something else for a few minutes and repeat this a few times so this feeling is powerfully anchored.
This will create a neurological stimulus-response that will trigger the state whenever you make that touch again. To experience this happy feeling again just touch the area you used and you will feel happy. To make the response even stronger, think of another memory where you felt that state, go back and relive it through your own eyes and anchor the state on the same spot as before. Each time you add another memory, the anchor becomes more potent and will trigger a stronger response.
Now let me give you an example of where this anchoring technique could be of use. Many of you probably find it difficult to get out of bed at the sound of the alarm clock, do you?
Well if this is the case there is a simple answer. You can anchor the sound of your alarm clock to an awake, pleasant and alert state of mind.
How to achieve this ?
During the day when you are fresh and alert, simply lie down on your bed in your darkened room (the place you normally sleep in). Just lie there for a few minutes and simply “awaken” to the sound of your alarm clock. Stand up and feel the ground, stretch your arms overhead and notice how good this feels, take a few deep breaths and then stop your alarm clock. Then repeat it again and again, until you associate the alarm clock with a feel-good and alert state of mind. So from there on, your mind will associate the alarm clock sound with a pleasant and alert state. The result of this is that when you need to be awakened by the sound of your alarm clock, in the morning, you will associate it with a pleasant experience, no matter what time you have to wake up!!
Association and dissociation are words we use to describe the way we observe our own mental pictures.
In a nutshell, that means seeing those pictures through our own eyes or through the position of looking through someone else’s eyes and seeing ourselves in the picture. So, dissociation would be looking through someone else’s eye and seeing ourselves in the picture.
Have you ever been in a situation that gave you a bad feeling? Whether it is a fear of public speaking or some difficult situation at work, or simply you feel awkward about approaching a special person you have your eye on. While these feelings of sadness, nervousness or shyness seem to be automatic or unstoppable, NLP techniques of dissociation can help immensely.
- Identify the emotion (anxiety, fear, rage, discomfort) that you want to get rid of from a certain situation or encounter.
- Imagine that you can float out of your body, look back at yourself and see the back of your head. You now feel like an observer and from your new perspective, you are seeing yourself.
- Notice how those bad feelings change dramatically, how they have less of a pull on you.
- For a deeper dissociation, you can go a bit further. Imagine that you can float out of your body looking at yourself, then float out of this body again, so you’re looking at yourself, looking at yourself. This double dissociation should dispel the negative emotion from almost any minor situation.
3. Getting Other People to Like You (rapport)
I am sure it comes easy to you to create rapport with the people that are like you. These people that you connect with instantly, they think like you, you have the same interests, they even have the same gestures as you. This is when you immediately gel or click with someone. But what about all the others? What if you could get others to like you ?
When you look at communication, we are taught to think that the most important part of it is the words we say. Yet, words only represent about 7% of the total communication between two people. That’s not really that much, is it? Roughly 38% is determined by how we say the words (intensity, pitch, speed of your voice) and a mind blowing 55% by non-verbal communication or body language. That means it is not only important what you say, but how you say it and, most importantly, how we use our body and gestures.
By using Matching and Mirroring you can get along with virtually anybody. Matching would be replicating the same as the other person and mirroring (as in front of a mirror) would be the opposite.
Matching and Mirroring
This is very simple, quick, effective and it really works.. So you match the other person’s tone of voice, body language and words. For example if they speak slowly you can match their speed, or use similar terminology. When they cross their arms, you do as well. Obviously this has to be done in a subtle manner!!
We all like people that are like ourselves or how we would like to be. When mirroring, you can use gestures, postures, facial expressions and eye contact. These skills require time and observation, you can start by noticing one gesture in particular that the other person does all the time. Match it! Then move on to the voice, speed, intonation, and so on with as many details that you subtly introduce. Finally, move on to the content or words that you use. It is important to start in that order, as we have seen that 55% of our impact in a presentation comes from body language, 38% from our voice and only 7% from our content and the words we speak. So practice and take your time!
Stand or sit the way the other person is sitting. Tilt your head the same way. Smile when they smile. Mirror their facial expression, where they look. Cross your legs when they cross theirs. Match their hand gestures, etc.
Finally, when you are gaining confidence, you can even match their breathing. That means that you synchronize your breathing with theirs.
The key to creating an unconscious rapport is subtlety. If you are too obvious, the other person may notice, which would most likely break rapport and also, I am sure, the other person would think “what on earth is he doing?” !!! So keep your mirroring and matching natural and calm.
4. Content Reframing
Try this technique when you feel that a situation is negative or helpless. Reframing will take any negative situation and empower you by changing the meaning of the experience into something positive.
Reframing occurs in life regardless of NLP, and is a common means by which meanings get created and lost in various situations, either deliberately or by happenstance.
A picture frame has borders or boundaries on what you can see in a picture. As far as thoughts are concerned, framing provides a context or a focus and this frame of reference is a result of your beliefs about yourself and others. You are always setting limits, barriers and boundaries for yourself on what you can or cannot do. Sometimes we even allow others to set those limits for us.
Once you are aware of your framing, you can also realize if it limits or enhances your experience. If you are limited by this frame that you have put in place, it is time to change it. The purpose of this reframing is to help you experience your actions and the impact of your beliefs from a different angle (or a new frame). This will make you see or feel differently about certain events and therefore change your experiences altogether. And by allowing yourself to reframe a situation or event, you become more resourceful and have more choices.
Changing the frame of an experience can have a major influence on how you perceive, interpret and react to that experience. Being told that you have one hour to complete a task will most likely result in a different emotional state, approach and quality of work than if you are told that you have one week to accomplish the same task. This illustrates how a change in frame can have a significant impact on the choices you make. The purpose of reframing is to help a person experience their actions, the impact of their beliefs, etc. from a different perspective (frame) and potentially be more resourceful or have more choice in how they react.
You can reframe the content by giving another meaning to a statement. For example “ My boss always comes to me and asks me to call and deal with difficult customers! Statement-Reframing … He must really value my negociating skills!!
Or you can reframe the context by simply changing the context. For example, let’s say that your relationship ends. Depending on the relationship and the reasons for its collapse, that may seem awful, but let’s reframe it. What are the possible benefits of being single? For example, you’re now open to other potential relationships. You also have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. You’ve learned valuable lessons from this relationship that will allow you to have even better relationships in the future. By the way, I am not suggesting this reframing will kick in the second the relationship ends! A period of adaptation and even mourning will need to take place over time before one can move to this level. All this does take some practice, of course, but the more you use “reframing” in your day to day life, the better you will become at it.
To further help you reframe a situation, NLP has a useful presupposition “Every behaviour has a positive intention”. So you can ask yourself questions such as: What other meaning could this action or’ behaviour have? Or for what purpose did he/she do this? What is the positive value in this behaviour?
These are all examples of reframing a situation. So by shifting your focus and reframing a situation, you get to clear your head, think in a different way and make more responsible decisions
This is useful in a myriad of situations:
- In sales: answering objections raised by a client (in sales, reframing is called “handling objections“)
- In education: reframing students who lack self confidence (‘I’ll never make it‘)
- In negotiation: reframing both parties so that they come to a solid agreement faster.
- In human resources: improve relationships between people who have different ideas
- In meetings: smoothing communication
5. Influence and Persuasion
While much of the work of NLP is dedicated to helping people eliminate negative emotions, limiting beliefs, bad habits, conflict and more, another part of NLP is all about the way that language and language patterns are used to ethically influence others. But it’s more than just about the words. It’s about what the words we use evoke in the people we’re addressing.
Language is sensory – because all the information that we process can only enter our brains through the five senses. There are 3 main sensory modalities in NLP, visual, auditory and kinesthetic (feelings). Whether you are aware of it or not we all have a sensory modality preference. A visual person will say “ I can see my a bright future for me…” or “ This looks good” or “ I can imagine myself in this magnificent house” etc… An auditory person would express her ideas in other terms like “ How does this offer sound to you” or “ these words resonate with me”, etc. And finally a kinesthetic person would use this type of language, “ Does this feel like the right path to follow?” or “ I was touched by his speech”.
The same can apply to writing. An author or journalist, for example, can’t know (in most cases) what their readers’ preferences are. By incorporating all three senses into their writing they can maximize the potential impact.
Persuasive and influential language encourages individuals to find their own skills and resources needed to achieve whatever it is they are required to do. This can be as simple as asking a client ‘when’ they make the decision, rather than ‘if’ they make the decision, (implying a decision will be made). Or empowering others to believe they are capable of achieving something they are not sure they can do. (Implying that you believe in that person’s ability to achieve something) .
This is a very powerful tool that can be used to not only influence and persuade others but also to help other people overcome fears, limiting beliefs, conflict and more.
This can help with things like stopping smoking, losing weight, procrastinating, nail biting and phobias.
On a personal level, NLP can help quit smoking, lose weight, get rid of limiting beliefs, overcome phobias and in the setting and achieving of goals. In your business it will help you make better decisions and if you are in sales you will communicate in a more effective manner with your customers. These techniques can be used in sports to enhance your performance, in education and even to accelerate the way you learn and retain information. I could go on and on…
My personal journey with NLP started last year, when I joined a practitioners course in London with Dr Richard Bandler. It was life changing. I did not realize the extent of what had happened until months had passed. I had started a meticulous process of improved thinking, removing one by one my limiting beliefs and negative programming. This in turn has allowed me to see many different options for my future, for my relationships, for my health and for my life purpose.
It became especially important the moment I set my goal to live to 100!! I have learned to think differently, to model those that have reached 100, to never stop learning new skills and adapting to any situation. Most importantly, I have acquired a set of skills that will assist me in helping others and fulfill one of my missions in life.
“If you change the way you think, it will change the way you feel and therefore it will change what you can do” Dr Richard Bandler.