Neuro Linguistic Programming

What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a game-changing set of ideas that raise our understanding of how emotions, beliefs, behaviours & language all work together to build human performance. It’s also used as a powerful coaching methodology that improves relationships & resilience & helps leaders to lead well.

Derived from the modelling of successful behaviours, NLP, is 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). Sometimes referred to 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 through learnt conditioning.  This can help us become more efficient (think of how we learnt nasic things, like to stand, walk which literally took years of practice) & enables us to build on our learning. However our (frequently) somewhat arbitrary learnt conditioning doesn’t always drive successful behaviours & thoughts. Most of us have learnt conditioning that holds us back, on a daily basis. Negative beliefs drive negative thoughts & produce un-helpful emotions.  For instance many of us experience thoughts like “I’ve never been good at ….” , “that always happens to me”, “I don’t deserve someone as good as …”. These are typical negative phrases we may think or say and are driven by our historic programming leartn 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 & perfom better.


Understand our operating systems

When we understand how this 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. Through this we understand, communicate & learn. How this system works varies amongst people. Some people read & understand the world more visually – working with images & pictures in their minds, others more auditory (more focussed on sounds) , others kineasthetically (more on the physical, touch & sense) & some use a combination of these.

The world & people are not how we see, hear or sense them – they are how we perceive them. By understanding this process of perception & how our body & mind work with them is the essence of NLP.

Our gestures, facial expressions, eye movements & body language all reflect someone’s thinking & their emotions. It’s therefore powerful to both learn to read these in others & manage our own 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 tied to their need to influence thinking & behaviours.

Benefits of NLP


  • Improved 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 in the NLP (communication) model


Our senses ->Internal representations


Emotional state





Mental filters, programmes- beliefs etc.


Our behaviours

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