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Myth Busting - Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

I was chatting to a CEO this week and he asked me, ‘So what do you say when people ask you about the controversial side of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)?’

“What controversial side?” was my reply… when you are working with something for so long and surrounded by clients who absolutely love NLP and what it has done to help them, it took me a moment to realise that there are still some myths out there about NLP.

He clarified his question and said ‘it is manipulative’. An interesting concept… we had a bit of a laugh about sales and marketing which has historically been built on persuading us to buy products... whether we want them or not!

So let’s talk about it… what he was referring to is the language patterns that we learn in NLP and which are used constantly in the world around us. For example, if you go to a restaurant and the waiter takes your order, they could ask “do you want red or white wine with that?” This is what we would call a ‘double bind’ – it gives the illusion of choice… maybe though I would want rose wine or water or something else. In the marketing world slogans such as ‘because you’re worth it’ are another linguistic pattern – how do they know that I am worth it? It can however give the necessary motivation for people to rush out and buy their products.

So the way I look at it is, that I would prefer to know about these patterns that are being used all the time so that I can spot them and have a choice as to how I respond rather than bury my head in the sand and pretend that they don’t exist… or get swept along buying all sorts of products that I don’t necessarily want or need!

The analogy I used to explain it further was around an accountant. A good accountant would know how to prepare a thorough and accurate set of accounts… they also technically know how to fiddle the books… a good and ethical one wouldn’t do that though. A brain surgeon knows how to help someone as well as to cause loss of life… they have a choice every time they go into the operating theatre. The difference is that they are ethical in their approach and wouldn’t dream of using their knowledge in that way. This is exactly the same with NLP – we have an understanding and awareness of these linguistic patterns and only use them for good, in an ethical and positive way, aligned to our values.

So in the same way as an honest accountant wouldn’t fiddle the books, we use NLP to benefit others and to support growth and the realisation of personal and professional greatness. It is therefore so important, when choosing who to work with, to ensure that they are ethical and their values marry up to yours… whether that is your accountant, a surgeon or an NLP Trainer or NLP Practitioner.

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