Neuro Linguistic Programming

What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a game-changing set of ideas that increase our understanding of how emotions, beliefs, behaviours & language all work together to build human performance.

As such it’s therefore also a powerful coaching methodology that coches emply to improve relationships, resilience & help leaders lead more effectively.

Derived from the modeling of successful behaviours, NLP can be defined as a set of techniques that help people become more effective & communicate better. NLP demonstrates the connection between the mind (neuro) & both non & verbal communication (linguistic) to describe how we can change the way we think & behave (our programming).

We like to think of it as a ‘technology of change’. NLP teaches us not so much what to do but ‘how to’ learn & grow.

The Premise

Human beings think & act much of the time through learnt conditioning.  This can help us become more efficient.  Think, for example, of how we learnt basic things, like how to walk or talk, which literally took years of practice to become proficient at.  Repeated experiences, often making mistakes in the process enables us to build on our learning.

However frequently we learnt many things in a somewhat arbitrary way. This learnt conditioning relates to many fundamental ways in which we live our lives such as how we think about ourselves, others and the world around us. These learnt ways don’t always serve us or drive successful behaviours & thoughts.  Most of us have learnt conditioning that holds us back on a daily basis. Negative beliefs drive negative thoughts & produce unhelpful emotions. 

For instance many of us experience thoughts like “I’ve never been good at ….”  or  “that bad thing always happens to me” or “I don’t deserve that good thing or person …”. This negative self-talk can relate to deep-seated programmes driven by our historic experiences. These may have been learnt through either repeated, or strong negative experiences. 

NLP can be used to both identify & improve such learnt conditioning. It also helps us understand how we learn, grow & perform better, not least by showing us that we are not our behaviours and can go beyond our programming & our past.


Understand our operating systems


When we understand how programming works we can use it to communicate, learn & change more effectively.

The way we take in information & our preferences around how our senses see the world is called our  ‘representational’ system. This determines how we take in information, understand, communicate & learn. How this system works varies person to person. Some people read & understand the world more visually – working with images & pictures in their minds, others are more auditory (more focused on sounds), others kinaesthetically (more by the physical, touch & sense) & some have a preference for a combination of these.

How we each view the world & other people is different and defined by our perceptions of how we think we see, hear or sense the world around us. By understanding this process of perception & how our body & mind work with them is the essence of NLP.

Someone’s gestures, facial expressions, eye movements & body language all reflect their thinking & their emotions. It’s therefore powerful to both learn how this all works & how to read these to help manage emotions more positively.

NLP techniques are therefore used by some of the world’s best therapists, advertisers & world leaders who all have one thing in common – their success is closely based on their ability to influence thinking & behaviours.

Benefits of NLP


  • Gives us a powerful model for understanding people
  • Improves understanding & control of negative thoughts & patterns
  • Improved ability to communicate
  • Better relationships, collaboration & people-reading abilities
  • Increased positive mind-set & persuasion
  • Improved conflict-resolution & negotiation skills
  • Establishment of a framework for improving many areas of life and work
NLP Techniques
  •  ‘Re- framing’ challenge & failure as part of our resilience training
  • ‘Chunking’ to help better manage difficult conversations and meetings
  • Powerful listening skills techniques – to build empathy, relationship & team-building skills
  • Rapport & trust building for leadership & group working
  • Setting goals you’re more likely to achieve using (‘Well- Formed Outcomes’)
  • Building motivation & collaborative working
  • Influencing mood by understanding different people’s communication styles
  • The principles of NLP are modelled on what successful people do, so understanding & using these techniques will help you be happier & more successful. That’s why we use them.
History of NLP

NLP History

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

Clean Language

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

Clean language does not mean that our language & gestures don’t influence the rpocess or client because almost all non & verbal communication influences in some way. It simply means we should work ‘from’ a client’s perspective & systems of understanding.

Example: If we asked a question during coaching – ‘What does that look like?’ or ‘how does that sound to you?’ these appear to be general open questions & yet they have subtle restrictions on a client’s ability to respond because of their perception of the ‘visual’ or the ‘auditory’ respectively.

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

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

NLP process

A simplifed representation of the key elements of the NLP (communication) model


Our senses ->Internal representations


Emotional state





Mental filters, programmes- beliefs etc.


Our behaviours

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