Topic 2 – Presuppositions of NLP

As an NLP practitioner there are certain assumptions and beliefs that you can adopt, so that you will have the greatest impact on how you conduct all aspects of your life. These are particularly useful to adopt when working with other people.

The map is not the territory

In the same way that a map only represents the actual territory, there is a difference between our experience of reality and actual reality. Our map or model of the world is based on our own set of filters. Filters are always restrictive. It is not the reality that limits us or our business but the set of choices we perceive available to us through our maps.

There is no failure, only feedback.

Every result is an outcome. If it is not what you wanted or expected, then learn from the feedback. All that you do is a learning process.  If you pay attention to feedback then you will be able to find different ways of achieving your outcome. Failure is an internal construction, it is a meaning that we apply to our map of the world, and does not exist in the world outside.

Respect for other models of the world

During our lives we meet many different models of the world. People may surprise us in many ways during meetings, in conversations and other interactions. How they view the world may be far removed from how we view it. What motivates them and how they deal with events may be foreign to us. Respect however, means having consideration of other maps, and accepting that they have a perfect right to have a different model of the world. This is one of the keys to good rapport, bridge building and negotiation.

We have all the resources that we need to act effectively

People are not broken, and they don’t need fixing; they are whole and have all the resources they need. It may be that sometimes they do not act effectively in some business and other situations because they do not know that they have the resources.

People behave as they do because that is the best choice open to them with the resources they are aware of.  All behaviour is positively intended to adapt to the context in which it was established. When we recognise the positive intention then we can help ourselves and business colleagues and partners have greater choice in the behaviours they exhibit in achieving desired outcomes.

Mind and body are one system

Each of us is a cybernetic system and it is not possible to completely isolate any part of our system from the rest of the system. What affects our mind affects our body and vice versa. Business is not just business. Business is people interacting and just as how we think affects how we act, how we do business affects the business we get. We cannot not influence one another. Change the mind or the body and it will affect the whole system.  

The meaning of your communication is the response you get

Language is a method of coding and communicating our internal world. As such it is one step removed from our inner experiences.  Those we communicate with must translate our surface code through their own filters to assign it a meaning, and from this they will act according to what they think we meant. We may hear them say “yes I understand” but their behaviours are the best kind of feedback about how effective our communication has been. If the response of those we have communicated with is not as we would have liked, then we will want to consider changing the way we communicate with them.  This means that we are taking complete responsibility for our communication.

Accept the person; change the behaviour

A person and their behaviour are not the same thing.  In all walks of life it is only by accepting the person that we can then work with them to change their behaviour. People are not their behaviour.

If it is possible in the world, then it is possible for me –  it is only a matter of how

The skills we learn are developed through our representational systems. Since we share the same basic representational capabilities, if it is possible for someone to develop a skill then it is possible for you to do it.  You need to find out how it is done by the other person and then model it.

The element of a system with the most flexibility of behaviour will have the most influence within and on that systemThe Law of Requisite Variety (after Ross Ashby)

For the person who only has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. If there are behaviours you cannot generate, then there are outcomes you cannot get. The person who has the most choices and flexibility in their behaviour will be able to adapt best to any situation and so have the most influence on the system. Load your toolbox with flexibility!

There are no resistant clients or colleagues, only inflexible communicators

When clients or colleagues are resistant to your message or initiative, it indicates a lack of rapport.  Being more flexible in your communication allows you to create rapport.