NLP is the acronym for neuro-linguistic programming. NLP is also an abbreviation used for natural language processing. Neuro-linguistic programming and NLP in this context does not have any connection with natural language processing.
Neuro-linguistic programming is a specialized practice to hone communication, facilitate personal development and to make psychotherapy more effective. NLP has been hotly debated over the years. Proponents have advocated its benefits, ranging from the ability to create a sound connection between language and neurological processes, which subsequently influence behavioral patterns through learning and experience.
Critics have highlighted the shortcomings of neuro-linguistic programming, often citing that it does not work in every scenario or for any and sundry. There are some who tend to hype this approach as a remedy for many personal problems that ail millions of people around the world.
Is NLP an effective practice and is it a solution for many, if not all, contemporary personal or professional problems?
NLP certifications can be obtained through online modules. All the exercises and theory, while demanding effort can still be learnt online:
History of Neuro-Linguistics Programming
Richard Bandler created the approach along with John Grinder that we now know as NLP. Richard Bandler is a self help guru, trainer and author. John Grinder is a linguist, management consultant, author, speaker and trainer. The two Americans are best known for their methodology to study, understand and subsequently change patterns of human behavior. Bandler and Grinder came up with neuro-linguistic programming in the seventies and were also working on design human engineering and neuro-hypnotic re-patterning at the time.
The creators have emphasized how certain neurological processes can influence communication or language and behavior so one can develop approaches to accomplish preset goals. These goals are not necessarily personal or professional. The aspirants can be of any nature in life and NLP can play a role but its facilitating or contributive influence will vary depending on the specifics of the goal. The creators Grinder and Bandler found links between many serious conditions and how people respond to them that have traditionally been classified as the symptoms. According to them, NLP could help people suffering from depression, phobias, learning disorders, tic disorders and other psychosomatic illnesses.
What is NLP?
NLP has three distinct components. The first is neurology, which is more like the natural responses and actions of individuals in given circumstances. The second is linguistics and this has more to do with language and behavior than any neural connectivity. The third component is programming. One may refer to is as training, conditioning or grooming. The basic purpose of NLP is to use neurological responses in a desired manner to program certain behaviors that help people in distinct situations. Many people act and react in manners that are not conducive to them or their interests, the short or long term goals and in the end there is no gain, perhaps loss. It is this promise of neuro-linguistic programming that has made it immensely popular in the corporate world. NLP is now used to train employees, there are workshops that deal with challenges specific to a profession or work in general, there are experts who help leaders hone their skills and it is used for personal growth & development in many ways.
NLP can be simply described as the language of the human mind. Anyone who can use neuro-linguistic programming in an effective manner will basically be familiar with this language of the mind and can hence control some of it to accomplish the desired objectives. The premise explores both the conscious and unconscious or subconscious of the human mind to chart a course that augurs well for an individual. People set goals consciously but they pursue them subconsciously or unconsciously. The mind does not set its own goals without any active intervention but it does pursue its interests. People respond instinctively and do not always cherish it. People give in to their impulses and later regret it. From binge eating to anger issues, anxiety to stress, depression to procrastination and every other problem that may be holding you back from furthering your career or becoming a better individual can be addressed with extensive neuro-linguistic programming. Some people say that even one session can make a difference. It depends on what kind of difference a person seeks.
Evolution of NLP
Bandler and Grinder came up with a model using different techniques to understand how the mind works. This is not a generic model but warrants customization for an individual. The creators drew inspiration from the works of Milton Erickson, Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir. They also relied on theories of Alfred Korzybski, Noam Chomsky, Carlos Castaneda and Gregory Bateson. The model or the set of tools and techniques were intentioned to help codify complex activities down to their structure that is apparently inherent for a particular human mind. The codification, structure and activity can then be used to condition the mind and then influence the behavior, action or reaction. The honing may also influence thinking, planning and implementation.
There have been various models of NLP over the decades. The first one developed by Bandler and Grinder was called Meta-Model. It primarily dealt with gathering information and questioning the language of a client and their underlying thinking. There was a Milton-Model that focused more on hypnotic language that was the forte of Milton Erickson. NLP became quite popular through the late seventies and subsequently in the eighties when new aspects of human potential were being explored and scientists around the world were trying to ascertain how much can a person grow their mind or control their thoughts to achieve something.
Today, NLP primarily uses subjectivity, behavior, consciousness and learning as the core components. There are different sets of practices or techniques used by trainers and experts. Traditionally, the tools used are visual recall, visual construct, auditory recall, auditory construct, kinesthetic and auditory internal dialogue. A lot has changed in recent years. NLP has moved largely away from hypnotherapy and the pseudoscience of treating many neurological conditions. Instead, it has become a way to hone the conscious mind to accomplish goals, either in personal or professional sphere. For instance, the usage of the word but often makes people remember what is said after whereas using and helps people remember both what precedes and succeeds the conjunction.
How NLP is Changing Lives?
• NLP can be used to establish dissociation. People usually feel comfortable, uncomfortable or not really perturbed at all depending on many circumstances. Situations that are comfortable do not need to be altered. Uncomfortable scenarios need to be tackled. Many people experience stage fright, struggle with delivering presentations, feel angry when their contributions are undervalued or ignored, feel resentment when passed on for a promotion and experience strong dislike for some people or situations. These are real issues that cannot be resolved unless a person is able to dissociate and look at the situation from a different perspective. If someone can train their conscious mind to be an onlooker or watcher and not the one under the spotlight and hence under immense stress, then one can be disassociated and it brings in a fresh perspective. Stage fright, anger, rage, discomfort, fear, dislike and even uncertainty can be dealt with through dissociation.
• Emotional changes can be brought about by reframing the context. Dissociation is one of the quintessential elements of such an approach. Context reframing is a conscious move to understand different perspectives and to pick one that serves the interest in the best possible manner. People may experience negative or positive emotions. People may feel empowered and helpless in different circumstances. Unless the context of negativity and positivity or empowerment and helplessness are changed or reframed, it is quite impossible to see the opposite or even to manage the situation. Dissociation is the first step towards context reframing. The second step is consciously changing the perspective, from negative to positive or from a state of helplessness to being empowered. This should then lead to reframing of content, which could be an action, reaction, behavior, thought, spoken words or plan of action.
• Dissociation and context reframing can help people in their personal and professional spheres of life. So can anchoring oneself which has now become a common practice in neuro-linguistic programming. Anchoring oneself has its roots in the simple philosophy that focusing on the personal objectives or prioritizing the self and thinking of the other external factors from that perspective can be quite a realization, good or bad and hence accordingly one can take appropriate measures. For instance, if someone is in a difficult situation, one can anchor their self and think of the whole scenario solely from their perspective. If the feeling is negative, then one must act accordingly and if there is no worrisome feeling then nothing needs to be done. Sadness can be better managed, happiness can be restored and one can succeed in the pursuit of emotional positive by anchoring oneself.
There are many other ways neuro-linguistic programming is changing lives of people. Rapport, persuasion and influence can be easily improved with the help of NLP practices. The methods can help people improve their behavioral skills, people management and leadership abilities. People can effectively become problem solvers.