NLP At Your Best… And Your Worst

It’s said that NLP is meant to bring out the best in you. Well, I’ve recently just concluded an amazing training with a bunch of high energy individuals, and you can catch them on my Facebook album.

What I’ve learnt is that no matter what tool we have, we need to always have faith that the future can be better for us. We are not who we “are”. The only “best” we can be is being “better” every time.

Sometimes, that’s not possible. I know some people who will say “But Stuart… we are in a crisis right now! How can you have “faith”?” Well, that’s the whole idea.

Somehow, human beings have been programmed to get in their own way. I think that’s what Bandler said, at least. As I get to understand this even more, I realize that the process of being at our best is sometimes about our worst. Hasn’t there been a time where you felt so miserable that you knew you bottomed out? Almost like the economy now, kind of. So when things get so bad you think they can’t get any worse, you learn from it.

Balancing actCreative Commons License photo credit: tanakawho

This “get in your own way” program seems to have been developed for our own good. As an NLP trainer, one thing that I often do is observe behaviors that are moving someone toward his or her goals. If their state is so bad that they can’t take action, it’s going to be likely that the failure is going to leave them disappointed and wondering if they can move forward. But we all know that there are different perspectives to the same issue. Someone can see the financial crisis now and scream in pain at the loss of opportunity. Someone else will scream in ecstacy of the possible wealth they can create for themselves.

Maybe, therefore, this whole modeling thing is meant to help us to increase our awareness of our best as well as our worst.

Maybe excellence presumes the inclusion of passionately going in the opposite swing of things. When we gripe and swear and wish others were dead, perhaps that is as low a state as we need to go to bounce back up.

In NLP, we explore the ideas of meta programs and values. Meta programs are those internal programs that create for us a sense of ‘personality’. They operate in the unconscious and shift from state to state. Values are the filters in our head that process what is important to us. Harmony or excitement, wealth or intimacy. These are values that guide many decisions in life.

When we are at our best, our values and meta programs activate in a much different way than when we are at our worst.

In a state of depression or fear, what is important to us activates an away from. We sometimes do everything possible to avoid all things, often to the detriment of our own results. I know someone who is so afraid of snakes, that anything that looks similar to it triggers off his fear… including a lock of long hair! He starts feeling that the people around him cannot be trusted (meta program: pessimism), that the people who had just bought his lunch were going to poison him. If he reacts instead of responds, you might even find him running onto the road with heavy traffic… simply because of an imagined stimulus. But if his survival instincts work, maybe this state will bottom out with him losing all his friends and loved ones simply because they can’t stand the way he reacts to a pipe, a wire, a water hose…

Somewhere along the line, this balancing out on the worst of us could cause us to bring out the best in us. We start saying “I lost all my opportunities or loved ones because of a stupid hose??” then we come to our senses. 🙂

I suppose as NLP practitioners, we only need to pay attention to what is happening. We keep people alive long enough for them to realize that they could do more with what they already have.

NLP Representational Systems

According to NLP theory, we have four major representational systems – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and digital. A visual representational system means you prefer seeing over hearing or touching. Auditory, of course means discussing, talking or sounding things out. Kinesthetic relates to doing, moving and the like. and digital refers to sequential processes (e.g. a flowchart or standard operating procedures).

Identify your own preferences when you think of your favorite activities, the thoughts in your head, and basically come to awareness of how you get a sense of the world around you.

National Poverty Hearing: Oliver Letwin in listening modeCreative Commons License photo credit: cooperniall

The implications are tremendous. What if you could sell to a preferred representational system (PRS) and increase conversion rates? What if you could interrupt negative behaviors by jarring the PRS? What if you could identify a person’s PRS and use that to get them to enjoy something that isn’t within their PRS? 😉

To be sharp in assessing a person’s PRS, observe their behavior, including eye movements (will discuss this in another post), physiology, preferences for activity. Listen also to sensory words being used. Visuals tend to use “see, color, bright” words. Auditories use words like “hear, speak, harmonize”. Kinesthetics “feel, touch, weigh” their thoughts. HINT: these are definitely not exhaustive but you should listen to more people speaking so you can see patterns evolving over time. Get it? (hint, read the HINT).

NLP Meta Programs: What Are They?

The theory behind NLP is that our communication is affected by our mental “filters”. These filters are the reason why we delete, distort and generalize things.

NLP Meta Programs are one example of mental filters. We tend to have certain personality preferences. NLP Meta Programs are closely associated with several personality traits like the introvert and extrovert dimension in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

However, from the NLP perspective, meta programs go beyond personality. Thought it is the fabric of our behavior, it is likely that meta program preferences can change, unlike regular “personality” traits. In other words, if we want to be a leader, we can model after the leadership meta programs — the traits that make a person a leader.

Here are some of the Meta Programs that are commonly known

  1. Toward — Away From
  2. Introvert — Extrovert
  3. Low Chunk — High Chunk
  4. Logic — Feeling
  5. Visual — Auditory — Kinesthetic — Digital
  6. Internal — External
  7. Convincer Filter: Once, Three Times, All the Time
  8. Match — Mismatch
  9. Optimist — Pessimist
  10. Foreground — Background

So, while these meta programs are not exhaustive (yet), they also contain a high level of structure that can be used for a variety of things such as changing preferred actions. For instance, someone who always gets into trouble because he is a “mismatcher” can be shifted into a “matcher” mode to appear to be less of a trouble maker. Each of these outlines a process. If I have a strategy to “match” I can learn the strategy to “mismatch”.

We can discuss the idea of meta programs and their implications in relation to strategies and submodalities.

Any questions? Just drop them in the comments box below!