Neuro-Linguistic Programming has undergone significant advances since its development in the 1970s. The two founders, Bandler and Grinder, have laid a great foundation that has grown tremendously over the past 40 years. Over the past decades, many NLP techniques have found their way to users and practitioners all over the world.
NLP techniques and communication models
The basis of NLP is anchored in several communication models. These models show how we can communicate effectively, but also how we communicate with ourselves.
When you analyze the term “neurolinguistic programming,” you see:
- neuro: that is, your nervous system,
- linguistic: language patterns,
- programming: this programming means that with NLP techniques, you can integrate and use new communication “programs,” but you can also apply when you communicate with other people.
First NLP techniques from Bandler and Grinder
The NLP techniques that Bandler and Grinder developed were initially aimed at Modeling, a method to transfer skills from one person to another in a relatively simple way.
Over time, numerous NLP techniques have been developed. Many of these techniques are very powerful and efficient. Although science still labels NLP as a pseudoscience, within NLP, it’s about achieving the desired result rather than having it “scientifically proven.” What works, works, right?
Top 6 NLP Techniques for Personal Transformation
My first personal experiences with NLP go back about 20 years. From the first moment I came into contact with NLP, I started to apply different techniques to myself and my environment. In the meantime, I have integrated many of these NLP techniques into my daily life in such a way that I am hardly aware of using them. I can assure you that they have brought me a lot.
Below I have listed the 6 most impactful, but at the same time easy to apply techniques.
Modeling is at the foundation of NLP. What makes someone so successful in a particular area? That’s the question Bandler and Grinder asked themselves when they studied successful people. They analyzed the meta-programs, preferred representation systems, and other verbal and non-verbal communication of their models.
They developed an NLP technique called Modeling, or model learning, learning from a model with this information. By analyzing the language patterns and non-verbal communication, they could model the “train of thought” of their model and transfer this to themselves or to someone else.
With Modeling, you can transfer years of training and experience in a very efficient way. This NLP technique can save you a lot of time.
Dissociation is a NLP technique that involves mentally distancing oneself from a situation, emotion, or memory. This technique can be helpful in various ways, especially when dealing with challenging emotions, traumatic experiences, or negative thought patterns.
Dissociation can help individuals regulate and manage their emotions more effectively. By mentally stepping back from intense feelings, you create a space to observe those emotions without being overwhelmed by them. This can prevent impulsive reactions and allow for a more thoughtful response.
Have you ever had a really unpleasant feeling that you wanted to get rid of as soon as possible? Then the NLP technique Dissociation can help you very quickly and effectively. Dissociation is part of the perceptual positions.
Dissociation is nothing more than just “stepping out of your skin.” You take a position outside yourself for a moment so that you can let go of the direct emotions related to the unpleasant situation.
By taking a helicopter position for a while, you can assess your situation without the emotional charge. You can apply this NLP technique just before a job interview, or after a traumatic event. In combination with submodalities, this is one of the most powerful NLP techniques, in my opinion.
It’s important to be aware of the power of this technique. It should be used with care and in appropriate situations. For some individuals, with PTSS, or traumatic disorders this technique may only be suitable or may need to be practiced under the guidance of a trained professional.
This NLP technique sounds almost too simple, but it can bring you particularly great benefits. Can you remember a song that takes you back to that vacation years ago? You even feel how crazy you were about that holiday romance back then …
Well, that’s the power of anchoring. In fact, an anchor is nothing more than an association. The song is the anchor but a potent one. Anchoring allows you to make yourself supreme in situations where you would otherwise feel insecure. You can also anchor a good feeling for when you feel less comfortable, and you could use a boost.
When anchoring, you evoke a feeling that you capture during the climax through a stimulus. In the case of the holiday feeling, the trigger was the song. You can apply a tactile (by touch) stimulus by, for example, placing an anchor on the side of the knee.
Reframing is one of my favorite NLP techniques. It offers a different view of just about every situation. While some people are very subjective in life and have strong opinions about everything, other people are objective and less inclined to judge. Reframing is a powerful technique in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that involves changing the way a situation, belief, or experience is perceived by altering its context or perspective.
In fact, there is something to be said for every behavior because everyone has their own worldview and frame of reference. When reframing, you revise your own frame of reference and see a situation from different perspectives.
Consider a news item, such as the war in Syria. One will support President Assad, the other the rebels. Hearing someone else’s opinion makes it easier to understand how the other is reasoning. And then without judging directly.
Reframing can make communication with your environment considerably smoother and, above all, prevent conflicts and heated discussions. Just think of “the glass is half empty.” “No, the glass is half full!” It is really nothing more than a way of reformulating a vision.
Examples of reframing are:
Original Statement: “I’m always nervous before driving lessons.”
Reframed Statement: “I feel excited about the opportunity to be able to drive from A to B.”
In this example, the reframing shifts the focus from a negative feeling of nervousness to a positive feeling of excitement.
Original Statement: “I failed the exam because I didn’t put in enough effort.”
Reframed Statement: “The exam was challenging, and I can learn from this experience to improve my study habits.”
Here, the context is shifted from focusing solely on failure to a more constructive perspective that emphasizes learning and growth.
This technique encourages acting “as if” a desired state or belief were already true. The “As if” exercise is a way to redirect your thoughts and feelings from negative or doubtful ones to more positive and hopeful ones. It involves asking yourself “As if” questions that guide your mind towards more optimistic possibilities.
Original State: A person lacks confidence.
As-If State: The person acts as if they are confident, adopting confident body language and behaviors. Over time, this can lead to increased self-confidence.
With Mirroring in NLP, you align your communication with your interlocutor. You can also do this when you speak in front of a group. The mirroring makes communication easier because it creates an environment of trust.
By mirroring the language patterns and non-verbal communication, you can improve your conversations. If someone hangs over on the table on his / her elbows during the conversation, do so. If someone mainly speaks with visual terms, make sure you tune in to that representation system.
However, beware of the pitfall: don’t sit parrots! It can be very annoying if you imitate the other and then the matching has already failed in advance. Make sure you make a subtle match and take advantage of the persuasiveness you suddenly appear to have. The key? Find common denominators with the other. Read more about rapport.
Submodalities are the properties that fall within the different representation systems that we know within NLP: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste).
We can use these submodalities as tools to empathize with a situation or to dissociate ourselves from an (imagined) situation.
Examples of visual submodalities are light-dark, sharp-blurred, bright-dull. Examples of auditory submodalities are high tone-low tone, hard-soft, etc.
When someone has a traumatic experience in a therapeutic setting, the client may recall these circumstances. By playing with the submodalities, the emotional charge can be reduced and, in some cases, even wholly resolved in combination with dissociation.
For example, if someone has been in a car accident and is still experiencing stress from it, it can blur the perceptions that still haunt the mind. In empathizing with the experience, the client can blur and distant the images and soften the sounds associated with the accident. In this way, the client can make the experience less intense and less bothered by the complaints.
Of course, submodalities are not only suitable for a therapeutic setting, but you can also simply use them for yourself to make unpleasant experiences less unpleasant. The other way around, you can also apply to intensify pleasant memories by making images brighter and warmer and bringing sounds closer.