What is not NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)?

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• John Grinder (co-creator of NLP), shares about 2 topics that are in NLP courses in India and abroad (usually NLP Practitioner courses).

The two topics being:
1 - NLP Presuppositions
2 - Strategies

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When I learnt NLP from John Grinder...

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When I attended International NLP courses facilitated by John Grinder (co-creator of NLP and New Code NLP)and got certified by him personally to facilitate Internationally certified NLP and New Code NLP courses, John Grinder spent ample of time during his NLP courses to distinguish between process and content for us as NLP Trainer and NLP coach.

Certainly, what differentiates Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) from other change/influence methodologies is that Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is purely process-based.
Hence, NLP training style is designed to be practical and experiential and not theory based with content imposed by NLP Trainers. NLP trainings are not designed to preach you how to live life but rather through your experience during the NLP course, you discover your own awareness through which you find your way of living life.

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It is not NLP?

According to John Grinder, many topics that are usually taught by NLP Trainers in their NLP certification courses do not qualify as a topic to be taught in an NLP training course. 

I had attended many NLP trainings in India before attending several NLP certification trainings from John Grinder. Consequently, I was surprised when John Grinder mentioned certain topics such as ‘NLP Presuppositions’, ‘Strategies’, ‘Meta Programs’ are usually taught in NLP courses are not to be considered a topic under NLP.
Hence, they must not be taught in certified NLP courses at least in the method it's been usually taught.

I have shared John Grinder's perspectives on the topics - NLP Presuppositions and Strategies below.

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NLP Pressupositions

I know you will be assurprised as I was...

'NLP Presupposition’ is considered as a bedrock by many NLP Trainers (at least by some NLP Trainers in India and abroad).
Hence, they spend ample time teaching them in their NLP Practitioner course. Some NLP Trainers believe that as an NLP coach, it is essential to operate through the set of beliefs in coaching to apply the NLP techniques and tools more effectively.  

However, this is what John Grinder has to say about ‘NLP Presupposition’–

“There is no need to subscribe to the so-called presuppositions of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) to benefit from an effective application of the patterns to some problem or challenge.
Further, if the so-called presuppositions of NLP are to be taken seriously, this decidedly odd collection of different logical types and levels are badly in need of revision and reorganization.

Their defects, fortunately, need not trouble us at the level of application of NLP patterning (as an NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner, and even an NLP Trainer).
Unfortunately, just as beliefs, presuppositions are ultimately filters that reduce the ongoing experiences of their possessors.

We (John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St. Clair) personally do not find any value in the enumeration of such rationalizations(NLP Presuppositions).”           

John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St. Clair, as shared in their NLP book, ‘Whispering in the Wind’  

Did you know? 
‘NLP Presuppositions ’originated from ‘9 Major Beliefs’. I only got to know about this and the 9 major beliefs when I learnt NLP in Madrid, Span from Frank Pucelik (co-creator of NLP).

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‘Strategies’ is another topic that many NLP Trainers teach in their NLP courses (usually NLP Practitioner Certification course).

Here is a statement from Dr. John Grinder regarding strategies in NLP -

 “Strategies – an ordered sequence of representational systems access for achieving a specific outcome –are the remnants of a project that I started in the mid till the late 1970s.

The objective of the project was to explore the possibility that the representational systems provided an adequate vocabulary for capturing some of the significant parts of what I would then refer to as ‘Syntax of Behaviour’ project (which was also the name of a four seminars/NLP trainings, sequence that Robert Dilts and I did together).

I had abandoned this project when two things became obvious to me - 

It’s limitation in NLP Modelling.  
Strategies are not particularly useful or effective leverage points for replicating genius or the patterning of geniuses. This is likely the historical confusion between ‘strategy elicitation and installation’ (an NLP technique/tool) and NLP modelling by itself.

As anyone who has actually done the strategy elicitation and installation work has experienced – this is a tail wagging the dog phenomenon- i.e., the careful, accurate elicitation of a strategy, followed by the installation of the elicited sequences, does not replicate the patterning of the genius that is being modelled.

The key leverage is the STATE. Indeed, if the state of genius is captured through our unconscious assimilation, then it will include the strategy. However, the inverse is patently not true, i.e., the installation of even a carefully and accurately elicited strategy of a genius (model) does not typically evoke the state in the modeller, which corresponds to the state in the model.

Thus, it fails to replicate the genius’s performance.  I suspect that - the popularity of the ‘strategy elicitation and installation’ is due to the fact that - it is a relatively rational and left-brain-oriented activity, it is primarily an observational activity and this method requires a little commitment on the part of the “wannabe” modeller. 

In Spelling strategy?
I am offering a significantly more radical critique of strategies.
Let’s begin with a strategy that has been proven extremely useful (especially with children), and it is a fine contribution by Robert Dilts.  
What Robert Dilts noticed was that an excellent speller (he is one) would follow a sequence of representational systems as defined by a sequence of eye movements. 

So if you take a child, establish rapport, and inductively walk that child through the rehearsals of Visual Memory with the Kinesthetic verification then, to the point that they can do it without being prompted (20 minutes is the maximum type that is typical for a child for words actually seen and identified previously).

I especially like Robert Dilts’ cleverness in noticing that if the visual image of the word which is to be spelled is very well-developed and stable, then the speller should be able to spell the word backwards with ease as well. Insisting on this as part of the rehearsal (installation) ensures that the speller will form a visual image of a word that is to be spelled.

Here is the problem that I find: the claim in the ‘spelling strategy’ is that a visual image of the word will occur 1st and the kinesthetic check comes later to ensure by feelings that the visual image is correct (or not). 
I challenge the sequence of V and then K.  I propose: what is actually going on (and this would be easy to verify with brain scanning equipment) is that the image and feeling arrive simultaneously.
It is an ARTEFACT that we experience them as occurring in sequence.
I propose that the illusion of sequence is the consequence of the limitations of the attention of our conscious mind. Although both of the representations are present, the limitation of 7+/-2 chunks of conscious attention, we have ensured that we entertain only one of them at the same time. 

If this is accurate, all the activities in NLP (NLP techniques and tools) that revolve around strategies are, in fact, a set of studies in the consequences of the artefacts of the limitations in our conscious attention. 
The illusion is strong, and in the particular case of the ‘spelling strategies,’ it is harmless, and the result of installing such a strategy is excellent, and I endorse it.   

My point is: if we as the people creating such models fail to appreciate what is actually going on, the enterprise is shaky in its foundations itself. 

While I would recommend that Robert Dilts’ work with the spelling strategy be offered to children everywhere(i.e., everywhere where the natural language is one where there are significant differences between the orthography (written representations) and the auditory representations. 
(In the Spanish speaking countries, spelling is not a part of the school curriculum since there is such a precise mapping between the sound of Spanish (spoken Spanish) and its written form, that it is unnecessary).
I urge for systematic investigations of the actual or illusionary sequencing to ensure that the enterprise has some relationship with what is actually internally going on. 

These are the arguments that I personally find compelling and the invitation to explore the foundations of strategies. I am, of course, proposing that the sequence is merely an illusion– before making assumptions that ‘strategies’ have anything to offer to the study of patterning of a genius (model) – which is the appropriate focus of NLP in my opinion”. 

John Grinder (co-creator of NLP and New Code NLP), Bonny Doon, California 

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To know about the criteria set by John Grinder for NLP Trainings and NLP Trainers, check the page – Selecting NLP Trainer

You can find more information regarding NLP by visiting:
What is NLP?
What is New Code NLP?

Who benefits from New Code NLP course?‍

New Code NLP course contents
NLP Core Skills course contents

Criticisms of NLP

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