What is NLP?

For many business leaders, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can appear to be too “soft and fluffy”, lacking scientific credibility and, at its worst, manipulative and unethical. This has limited much of its application to the overly superficial and populist end of the personal development market. However, part of our mission in Vievolve is to demonstrate that NLP, used selectively alongside other leading edge strategies, can not only provide individuals with highly effective personal development, but can also help organisations to increase the effectiveness of all their relationships. In particular it can help you to …

  • Streamline your change processes by focusing on identifying and moving towards mutually beneficial outcomes
  • Identify what stops a particular change from being sustainable
  • Determine the future direction of teams and organisations in ways that more exactly meet the needs of clients and other key stakeholders
  • Identify underlying (often unspoken) conflicts and provide the tools for resolution
  • Improve decision-making processes by focusing on higher level interests and specific leverage points for action
  • Accelerate the ability of workshop participants to transfer learning into the workplace

Experience and Credentials

Even with the dramatic increase in the number of NLP-oriented suppliers now marketing themselves in Europe, we believe we are still unique in our pedigree and experience of combining NLP with other technologies across a wide range of cultural and physical environments.

Our experience of applying NLP in business contexts goes back nearly 20 years, with a demonstrable track record in commercial, Government, NGO and charitable organisations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. In particular we are skilled at introducing complex ideas and methodologies in a practical way, without the need for extensive jargon.

To help you with your exploration and use of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) we are pleased to provide our answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about NLP and our business, Vievolve. Please feel free to contact us with your specific enquiries.

What is NLP?

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Originators and practitioners have variously described NLP as “the objective study of subjective behaviour”, “the study of excellence” and “a methodology and a way of thinking that leaves a trail of techniques in its wake”. All of these are true as far as they go. In addition, some of the ideas in NLP can stretch the imagination, challenge mind-sets and encourage personal, team and organisational flexibility. The name “Neuro-Linguistic Programming”, unwieldy though it is, describes the main characteristics of the approach:

1 – Neuro
The “Neuro” part of NLP captures the way in which our experience of the world through our five senses is handled by our nervous system, within the context of an understanding of our mind and body as one system.

A number of the NLP models and formats are based on the relationship between “how” and “what” we think and the behaviour and attitude we then manifest to external observers. These models encourage us to recognise that we have a lot more choice over our emotional state than we often think is possible and make suggestions about where to intervene. For example, think about the single most challenging thing you are facing in your personal or business life.

What is happening?
How are you feeling?

Now let go of those thoughts and think about an ideal holiday.

Where are you now?
How is it feeling to be here?

That simple demonstration shows just how quickly we can change our internal state. The NLP approaches allow us to capitalise on this capacity both for ourselves and for others. This has applications in any area where our performance is lower than we would like or where the way we are thinking about something is in itself a, or possibly the, limiting factor.

2 – Linguistic
In business, language is a currency we use routinely and in most cases almost without thought. NLP takes the view that the language we use, the specific words and habitual patterns, are an indicator not only of what we are thinking, but also how we are thinking about it. This, in turn, provides a way to begin to help or influence others – in dialogue, in presentations and, perhaps even more importantly, internally – making ourselves more flexible.

NLP offers insight into how our words give indicators of our deeper values, fears and aspirations, and therefore how we might be influenced or begin the process of change. The choices I am making about what to include and what to leave out as I write this FAQ can give you an increased understanding of what is important to me. Furthermore, it can provide insight into how I could be influenced without much need for more detailed questioning.

Our language patterns describe how we understand and bring meaning to the world. Awareness of NLP’s powerful linguistic models enables one to gain more information, increased clarity and greater accountability. You might reflect on the difference in your experience when you hear yourself saying “can’t” compared to “can” or “want to” instead of “have to”.

3 – Programming
We all have deeply seated habits and patterns of language, behaviour and belief, some within our conscious awareness and others outside of it. Through NLP we can increase our awareness of those patterns – those that empower us as well as those that limit us. Neuroscience now has evidence for what NLP practitioners have known for some years – that how we are thinking does directly affect how we feel and behave. We can change ourselves.

Where did NLP originate?

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The originators of NLP were John Grinder and Richard Bandler in the mid-1970s at the University of California, Santa Cruz. John Grinder was an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University and Richard Bandler was a student of mathematics and computer programming, but with an interest in therapy.
How can NLP help me in business?
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NLP is a significant tool for any business because it focuses on success and what works. It is powerful because it combines activity and behaviour at the normal conscious level of thought with utilisation of many of our more unconscious processes.

Immediate improvement is often reported when people recognise the distinction between placing your attention on what you want as opposed to what you don’t want. As you begin to focus on the “want” you can imagine that you have actually achieved this particular goal or aspiration.

  • What do you really want?
  • In your mind’s eye, look around and gather information or evidence that tells you that you have actually achieved this thing.
  • What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What are you feeling?
  • Is it within your personal control to make it happen? If not, you might begin to think about the parts of it that you can control.
  • How compelling is this? Does this take you closer to meeting some of your higher level needs and motivations?
  • What is it about your present situation that is positive and needs to be carried forward?

This approach can create a fundamental shift in how a business sets its goals and aspirations, and is just one example of an easily recognisable pattern. There are many others.

How can I improve my skill in using the NLP approaches?
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Our recommendation is practice, practice, and practice. There is no easy short cut unfortunately. In particular, we suggest paying attention to one aspect only at a time, especially in the early stages.

For example when watching a discussion/chat show, you might choose to follow whether participants show any particular bias towards visual, auditory or kinaesthetic language. Then, on another occasion you could track whether someone is mainly into conceptual or detailed thinking, moving towards or moving away in his or her motivation. Another process that usually generates some early beneficial results is the Outcome Thinking model. For the non-verbal aspects, you might match/mirror people in uninvolved situations such as waiting rooms, on trains and so on. This obviously needs to be done with discretion and respect but will increase your confidence in using these indirect approaches to increase influence

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