Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a powerful way of coaching and building personal resources which was born out of modelling successful behaviours. It helps build resilience and leaders to lead well.

What is NLP?

Enabling the building of personal resources, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a powerful coaching tool that can improve relationships and resilience and helps leaders to lead well.

Derived from the modeling of successful behaviours, NLP, is a set of techniques that help people become more effective and communicate better. NLP demonstrates the connection between the mind (neuro) and both non and verbal communication (linguistic) to describe how we can change the way we think and behave (our programming). Sometimes referred to as a ‘technology of change’, NLP teaches us not so much what to do but ‘how to’ learn and grow. 

Human beings think and act through learnt conditioning.  This can help us become more efficient and enables us to build on our learning. However our (frequently) somewhat arbitrary learnt conditioning doesn’t always drive successful behaviours and thoughts. Most of us have learnt conditioning that holds us back on a daily basis. NLP can be used to both identify and improve on learnt conditioning.

How does NLP work?

This programming can be understood and changed by understanding our ‘representational’ systems for understanding and learning. These can be used to learn and change behaviour.
For instance our gestures, facial expressions, eye movements and body language reflect someone's thinking and emotions. It's therefore powerful to both learn to read these in others as well as reflect more positively in ourselves.

These techniques are used by some of the world’s best therapists, advertisers and world leaders who all have one thing in common - their success is closely tied to their need to influence thinking and behaviours.


The benefits of NLP within coaching and training is;

  • Improved understanding and control of negative thoughts and patterns
  • Improved awareness of the ability to communicate
  • Better relationships, collaborative and ‘people-reading’ abilities
  • Increased understanding and use of positive and persuasive communication
  • Improved conflict-resolution and negotiation skills
  • Establishment of a framework for improving many areas of life and work


NLP techniques

  • Re- framing’ challenge and failure as part of our resilience training
  • Chunking’ to help better manage difficult conversations and meetings
  • Powerful listening skills techniques - to build empathy and relationship & team-building skills
  • Rapport and trust building for leadership and group working
  • Setting goals you’re more likely to achieve using ('Well- Formed Outcomes')
  • Building motivation and collaborative working
  • Influencing mood by understanding different people’s communication styles

The principles of NLP are modelled on what successful people do, so understanding and using these techniques will help you be happier and more successful. That’s why we use them. 

NLP History

NLP was created by two men, a linguist, John Grinder, and a mathematician, Richard Bandler. They modelled great communicators and influencers, particularly Milton Ericsson, a renowned hypnotherapist. NLP is used to great effect in therapy (e.g. in hypnosis) and even by stage hypnotists who demonstrate the power of influencing the subconscious*.

Other related techniques

What is Clean Language?

Clean language is an NLP technique based on the belief that we all have a very personal view on the world and, as a coach, it’s all too easy to introduce ‘our stuff’ into how we communicate with clients which can contaminate their models or view of their world. In coaching this can undermine rapport, making it harder to support and work with clients in their best interest whereas clean language can enrich a coaching session powerfully and quickly.

Clean language does not mean that our language and gestures don’t influence because almost all language influences in some way. It means we should work 'from' a client's perspective and systems of understanding.

Example: If we asked a question during coaching – ‘What does that look like’ or ‘what do you think about that?’ these sound like general open questions and yet they have subtle restrictions on a client's ability to respond because of their perception of the ‘visual’ or the ‘cognitive’ respectively.

Such phrasing builds assumptions and disempowers the coaching. Entering the world and metaphor of a client means allowing them to explore their own potential in ways that mean most to them.

If appropriate, we will incorporate an awareness of clean language into our coaching.

Directive or Non-Directive Coaching

In general, we keep our coaching as non-directive as possible in order to give a client the greatest opportunity for growth and exploration. However there may be times when it may be more appropriate to adopt a more directive approach. Non-directive coaching entails open questioning to facilitate awareness and clarity whilst remaining focused on the aspects of most interest to the client whereas a directive nature leads, gives implications or specifically directs a client.