Here is a quote from p28 of Words that change minds on explaining NLP, “Despite its techno-babble name, it seemed to be designed to reach into people’s minds and discover how specifically each person is unique. It was based on studying some of the great communicators and therapists of our time. It examined how they were able to accomplish what they did, without the usual investigations into the reasons why people have problems. It was about learning strategies that work, not about scrutinizing the failures that people experience.” Shelle Rose Charvet.
I personally see the word babble in etymology as to when humans tried to reach up and replace God by building a tower in Genesis 11 vs 1-9 it was called the Tower of Babel. God’s punishment for mans audacity and arrogance was to give birth to languages which is the root of the nation state and culture developing. I do not however want to get side tracked in wondering what the tower is that humanity is building today and get back to the subject of the post. The uniqueness that Shelle Rose Charvet will be referring to is that we all have our own unique map; of the world. We all perceive things differently from our own unique set of experiences. When we can start to read our own map and start to read other people’s maps, we are in a better position to view their particular view of the world around them.
So, I use the word methodology in the opening paragraph deliberately because it is like scaffolding, it provides a structured approach in learning to listen accurately.
What does it mean to listen? Does it mean to be able to parrot back to a person what the person you were listening to were saying so that they know you are listening to them and not pretending to listen? That is what I thought listening was until I entered the world of coaching, but discovered you are listening for a lot more.
A couple examples of listening (for a lot more) are that you are listening for the metaphors that people use to describe or explain things. Some use the metaphor of journeys and talk of destinations and paths and hazards along the way. Many Christians use the metaphor of battle and combat: these bad things are happening to me right now because I am under attack from the enemy. This tells us a lot about the mind set and map a person is thinking with. A second example of what you can be listening for are, what are the hot buttons that trigger emotions which can lead to a deeper dimension in listening; reading the physical emotions as they leak out at a person when they talk.
If you are new to hearing about NLP, I would ask you, when was the last time you really listened to a person beyond switching off your own inner dialogue? If I was retrospectively asking this question to myself, I would have answered that, I try hard to listen but do not have the tools or understanding to listen properly. If you are not new to NLP you may be thinking, I have many of the tools and understanding but need the practice.
Let’s get to the Psycho-babble:
If we take the first of the three words that make up the name, Neuro: this is the mechanics of how the mind works. This part is about understanding how the human mind works when we communicate. Using the metaphor of scaffolding, this is the shape and structure and materials of scaffolding pipes and why they are strong.
Now for the second word, Linguistic: this is about the words that we use and how we use them. These are the connecting links between the scaffolding poles that link and join things together. When you examine the links, you can look for and see connections that are not working properly. These bits that don’t fit can make things get stuck and stop them from doing their job.
An example of this would be when someone gets stuck because they turn a process into an event or a verb into a noun when it should remain as a process. Does the word Love work better as a verb or a noun? It makes me think of the Ken Francisco song, Love is Not a Feeling It’s an act of your Will. https://youtu.be/mKbHFMADh8Y If someone said to me, “I am not sure that I love her anymore.” I would hear that they have turned what should be a process into an event that describes and emotion. I would then ask a question, something like, “What does love look like when it is working well?” I would ask it this way to turn the event back into a process.
A wee heads up here, this turning a process into an event is called Nominalisation, more evidence that NLP is full of Psycho-babble. At least it is useful psychobabble. If you went to construct an IKEA piece of furniture and it was not in your language then you might be panicking a bit. All the language and terminology used in NLP is to enable people to read the instructions to build accurately and functionally.
Now for the final word, Programming: this is about the patterns that we choose to make in our lives. This is the patterns that we choose to build to surround the building, so that it serves its purpose in keeping the construction workers safe and has a strategy built in for getting materials to work well. The key word here is Strategy.
We build and make strategies that serve us. When you are learning to listen to a person properly, you will not only be looking to see what map of the world they have but will also be looking at the strategies they use to move about their world. Some people will have the strategy of being a worry wort as it serves them well by keeping them on their toes. When you look at people’s strategies you will begin to ask yourself, what positive purpose does that serve for them? Even anxiety can have a positive intention for the person although it may not seem so from the outside looking in. If you can’t see the intention this would indicate that you are not seeing their map of the world accurately.
So, to close this post off I want to mention rapport. Rapport is essential for good communication, if you do not have good rapport you have resistance or ambivalence. I think the Apostle Paul understood this very well when he wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 9 verses 19-23 NKJV
Serving All Men
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
I finish as I start: What is NLP? It is simply a methodology that makes communicating with others easier. It makes it easier to understand others and it makes it easier for us to make ourselves understood by others as I believed Paul did by building rapport which is another layer of listening in order to communicate. As I said in my first post, eat the chicken and spit out the bones, there is a lot of meat in NLP that can be used by Christians with the intention stated in the last few words of the verses quoted above, “that I may be partaker of it with you.” The intent of the Christian is to share not only abundant life but eternal life.