NLP Communication model / The map is not the territory

NLP communication model

The NLP communication model is one of the building blocks in the foundation of NLP. When you master this communication model’s principles, you are well on your way to becoming a communication specialist.

The NLP communication model can explain how we take in information from our environment, how we process it, and how it affects the neurology of our behavior. The model explains how we process information and how it affects our behavior.

How does the NLP communication model work?

The process begins with an external event that we perceive with our five senses and thus enters our nervous system. Our sensory input channels are:

  • Visually – everything we see
  • Auditory – through hearing, so everything we can hear.
  • Kinesthetically – emotional (internal or tactile, e.g., pressure, texture, etc.)
  • Olfactory – the sense of smell
  • Gustatory – our taste

Within NLP, these sensory channels are often referred to as VAKOG, the initial letters of the different perception forms.

The NLP communication model estimates that our five senses absorb up to 2,000,000 particles of information per second. A system filters all this information because it would be impossible to process all that information simultaneously. The filters reduce the information to an amount that our conscious mind can handle. In NLP, we also call these filters the perceptual filters.

The map is not the territory

We have just learned that a significant amount of information about the outside world is filtered to a manageable amount that our brain can process within the NLP communication model.

Our reference frame is formed by our internal references, i.e., our experiences, our meta-programs, and our belief systems. In NLP, this is also called “the map”, our map of the world around us.

Through our perceptual filters, we have a certain idea of the world, the map. The phrase “the map is not the territory” indicates that our perception is not equal to reality. Our personal experiences and beliefs distort our perception of reality.

This explains that a difference of opinion does not always have to be a reason for a discussion. Everyone has his/her own perspective/frame of reference and thus a different “map”.

The principle of “the map is not the territory” makes it easier to understand someone’s dissenting opinion and actions.

With this in mind, we can avoid discussions and frustration when trying to convince someone of “your” truth. By being aware of these programs running on a subconscious level, we keep respecting someone else’s map of their world, and we can respectfully learn from each other.

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