The Powerful Principles of Neurolinguistic Programming that you'll want to know (Part 1)

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

During English lesson one day, I asked my class if they knew the meaning to the word "consequences". I was appalled when they said that it meant "punishment". You see, the school used the word "consequences" as a euphemism for any form of "punishment" that it issued out to students. That being the case, according to the students' world, that's the full meaning of the word "consequences". And that, of course, was different from my perception of that word because I used it to simply mean the aftereffects of a certain event, action, or behavior. Then it dawned upon me how the students' map of the world was different from mine and perhaps, that's what we should keep in mind when interacting with others.

#1 The map is not the territory.

In 1931, Alfred Korzybski popularised the idea that a map is not the actual territory. Every map is necessarily flawed because maps are mere representations of reality. Similarly, everyone of us would have a unique internal representation of the world around us. To avoid overwhelm, we delete, distort, and generalise information, such that we end up with our picture of the world that is slightly different from someone else's picture. In NLP, we understand this very well and we respect someone else's image because:

It is real for them

as much as our own images are real for us.

#2 The meaning of communication is the response you get.

It's easy to put the blame on someone else. When we get a negative response while communicating with others, it's easy to say that the person is just difficult to work with or that the person didn't listen to whatever that was being communicated. Since we cannot control others, we end up feeling helpless because we think that there are just some people whom we cannot get through to. What if we change the way we communicate? What if we could keep trying different strategies to communicate so that we eventually get our desired response? Isaac Newton's third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Why would you expect otherwise from your communication with others? You know, there may even be times when you have to stop communicating altogether because the other party is just not ready to accept what you are saying! And that's fine - just stop for the time being! And you'll not get any more negative responses.

Taking responsibility for our communicating

gives us control over the response we eventually get.

#3 People are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

No one deliberately sabotages himself/herself. Our behaviors are influenced by the values and beliefs that we hold dear to ourselves and by the internal representations that we have of the world around us. Every character, including a villain, has a backstory and there are specific reasons for each action/reaction. With this in mind, we have reason to dive deep into the relationships we have with the people around us, so that we understand the rationale behind their behavior. Remember:

Take time to understand someone else's story.

#4 Resistance is a sign of a lack of rapport.

Have you ever tried communicating with someone who refused to accept whatever that you brought to the table? It seemed as though the person was deliberately building a wall of sorts in the conversation. Rapport-building can break down that wall. And the first step is to see the other person as an equal. "Matching" is an important skill in rapport-building and that creates instant connection.

The first step to building rapport is to

see the other person as an equal.

#5 Know better, do better.

NLP demystifies the neural processes that take place in your brain, so that you understand how to use your mind effectively to create change. Knowing why and how you do what you do can open up possibilities for you when you realise how you can do things better.

Use this knowledge to

do better today.

After learning NLP, I understand how the mind works and it's really amazing how simply altering one's strategy of communicating can result in wonders I remember being frustrated with students in the past when they simply refuse to speak up when a question is posed to them. That's the response I got at times: absolute silence. And of course that was frustrating because the communication cannot flow. I soon realised that asking open questions or getting students to scale their answers can give them a helpline in such situations, so that the conversation continues. The scaling strategy works because yes-no responses require quite a bit of commitment and some people are just not ready for that. Putting one's answer on a scale (of 1 to 10) gives the other party a way out of that commitment and you can simply follow up with more questions on the specific reasons behind that chosen number! It's such an amazing strategy, isn't it? Know better, do better!