January 30, 2023

The Connection between Language and Behavior: A Look at NLP

What we see and hear is what we think about. What we think about is what we feel. What we feel influences our reactions. Reactions become habits, and it is our habits that determine our destiny. – Bob Gass

In her book, NLP at Work, Sue Night sets out to provide a practical and easy-to-understand comprehensive guide to using neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) in the workplace. Her focus is on providing techniques for improving communication, managing conflict, and achieving goals in a professional setting.

Sue Knight:

NLP is the study of our thinking, behaviour, and language patterns to help us build sets of strategies for everything we do—for making decisions, building relationships, starting up a business, coaching a team of people, inspiring and motivating others, creating balance in our lives, negotiating our way through the day, and, above all, learning how to learn. 

Back in the 1970s, as part of a project for Robert Spitzer, Richard Bandler, a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, listened to and picked out segments of taped therapy sessions of the late Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls. According to Bandler, certain word and sentence structures helped people accept Perls’ therapeutic recommendations. Bandler approached John Grinder, a lecturer in linguistics at the time. Together, they developed a model for gathering data and challenging a client’s language and underlying thinking, which they called the meta model. Bandler and Grinder based the meta model on Perls’s tapes and the observations of a second therapist, Virginia Satir.

They presented the meta model in 1975 in two volumes, The Structure of Magic I: A Book About Language and Therapy, and The Structure of Magic II: A Book About Communication and Change. The pair expressed their belief that the therapeutic “magic” used by Perls and Satir and other performers in any complex human activity had a structure that could be learned by others given the right models. These two volumes were the first to present the meta model. Through the meta model, one has the ability to challenge language distortion, generalisation, and deletion in a client in the same ways as Perls and Satir.

One of the strengths of NLP at Work is the clear and concise explanations of NLP concepts and techniques. Knight presents the information in a straightforward manner, making it accessible to readers with little prior knowledge of NLP. The real-life examples and case studies illustrate the effective application of NLP in the workplace and make the concepts come alive.

As Sue Knight states:

NLP pays very little attention to what people say they do, as that usually bears very little or no resemblance to what they actually do. You might think that by asking top achievers how they succeed, you would get precise answers. You would be wrong! The key to success is often unknown at the conscious level. Being able to access the previously unknown pieces is sometimes referred to as the magic of NLP.

As an NLP practitioner with over a decade of experience using NLP at work and at home, I have noticed these benefits of NLP:

Overall, NLP is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their professional skills and achieve their goals, whether that’s at work or in life in general. Sue Knight’s book is a good place to start the journey into the world of NLP, especially for professionals.

Editor’s Note: Having read through the list of benefits, you may be thinking you could use a little help in one or more of those areas. I’m a certified NLP practitioner and currently have room for a few more clients. Email me or drop me a message vis FB Messenger

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