January 16, 2018

The mistake most of us make about NLP

Man thinkingWe think NLP is something out there, when actually it’s something in here.

OK, the name is unfortunate. It stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. What sort of mouthful is that? It simply refers to the way we form habits by what we repeatedly do and say, and how we are. That’s it. At bottom, it’s as simple as that.

The interesting bit comes when we understand the structure of this habit-forming behavior and intervene in some way to change it, to overcome an issue or learn something new. That’s where the power lies.

Here’s the thing…

This programming process is going on inside us all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not. We’re unconsciously setting up patterns of behavior day in, day out, sometimes changing old ones (though usually we leave them alone until we realize they’re not helping us any more), and sometimes making new ones. NLP is just a handy set of principles for working with this, a process already going on inside us.

So if NLP didn’t exist as a subject of study, we’d end up discovering it again and calling it something else. The learning process is there anyway, whether we pay attention to it or not.

Sure, a whole industry has built up around training courses, qualifications, accreditations, techniques, jargon and so forth to learn all the milarkey. And that can undoubtedly be off-putting.

But know this…

You’re programming yourself every day whether you know it or not.

You can be aware of that or be unaware—up to you.

I chose the “be aware” choice and I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t turn the lights off again.

And if more of us opted to be mindful of our inner programming it would serve the world better. Among other things we’d relate well to other people.

Some of the essentials to do that—without signing up for the industry—are available here.

Do you know you understand embedded commands?

Three in meeting…and respond to them too, including the ones you say to yourself.

This might seem like an arcane linguistic curiosity. The truth is it’s both highly practical and a very big deal.

Loosely speaking, an “embedded command” is a part of a sentence which if taken on its own, would be an instruction of some kind, or a statement attaching an attribute to a person or something like that. So in the title, “you understand embedded commands” is an embedded command.

Now the thing is…

Our unconscious mind pays attention to all this instruction even if our conscious mind doesn’t, and what’s more, it ignores negation. The classic illustration is “Don’t think of a blue tree”. Even if you’ve heard that instruction a 100 times, you still think of a blue tree.

So saying to a child “stay in bed” has a very different effect from “don’t get up.”

“Call me if you need to” is very different from “don’t hesitate to get in touch.”

A recent post on our obsession with tips closed with “Watch out for the tip junkies” to avoid any risk of accidentally encouraging you in the opposite direction from which I intended. Writing the more obvious “Don’t be a tips junkie” might have turned you into one (with apologies to all the great tips sources out there).

If you’re compiling a risk register, for example, take great care to avoid making a risk more likely, especially if it has a behavioral aspect, such as “team leaders have difficulty persuading their staff to adopt the new process.” That wording risks programming team leaders to have just that difficulty, and their managers too.

We talk about change being difficult, so guess what…

If you say a process or a relationship is going to be difficult, you can be sure it will be.

You know about this really…

I wonder though if you realize how much your own and other’s embedded commands are running your life, their lives, and probably much of the economy.

Have you noticed?

Make sure you “say it the way you want it.”