Body Language Rapport and Influence

Body language communicates something, regardless of whether we wish to communicate or not. Living systems cannot not communicate. Without wishing to push the bounds of credibility, I include plants as demonstrators of body language. They wilt when short of water, lose the green in their leaves when short of nutrients and turn brown at the edges when they get too cold. These events can be observed by anyone. Of course there are more obscure bodily communications in the plant world too. Recognition of disease or predators or the need for exotic growing conditions is the realm of the trained plant body language expert, the horticulturist.

People and animals have a wider repertoire of nonverbal communication than plants. We can move from place to place and make faster, more visible gestures. As humans we can modify our gestures consciously, making voluntary movements as well as displaying unconscious breathing shifts, skin tone changes and micro-muscle movements. We use our bodies to convey interest or disinterest, to establish rapport with others or to stop them in their tracks. We learn cultural norms about appropriate body language for people of our gender, age and status in our daily lives and sometimes find our habitual presentations elicit markedly different responses in other parts of the world.

What can Body Language teach us about People?

So what can body language teach us about other people? With sufficient exposure to another culture we can learn to recognise its members by their body language, the way they move and gesture, how close they stand to other people and how much eye contact they make and with whom. We can learn to recognise how any individual, whatever their origin, is thinking by watching their eye movements, breathing and posture as they interact. This will not tell us what they are thinking. The subject matter of someone’s thoughts remains private until they describe it.

If we observe some interesting body language and ask the person what it means to them, we gain reliable information. If we observe the same person doing the same thing in a similar context in future, we can ask them if it means what they told us last time. This combination of observing a particular person and asking them for meaning for our future reference, is called calibration. We calibrate an individual against themselves in a particular context. In this way we can learn our employers’ requirements, our partners’ preferences and our pets’ idiosyncrasies with some degree of accuracy.

There is an urban myth that we can attribute accurate meaning to body language without calibrating the particular person. This is not useful. Unfortunately the myth has been enshrined in print with examples of body language. Did you know that if a woman points her toe at a man during a conversation she is supposed to fancy him? And what about the old chestnut of folded arms meaning that person is ‘closed’? Does a lowered brow and pursed lips really mean someone is annoyed, or could they be thinking, straining or doing something else?

Take sexual attraction for example. People do dilate their pupils, flush and lean forward in conversation when they are attracted to someone. They also do it when they are passionately interested in the subject matter, so don’t assume it is you, it may be something you are discussing. Of course, that level of interest is conducive to rapport. You may find friendship developing out of a common interest.

If you assume someone is annoyed with you when they go red or white and jump up and down waving their arms in the air, you may attract abuse from them. This is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Until you know more from that person, you don’t even know they are annoyed. They might be trying to dislodge an insect from down their front or be desperate to go to the WC, and even if they are angry, you might not be the subject of their wrath. Making assumptions about the meaning of people’s behaviour is called mind reading. We all do it, but some of us have learned to recognise it and use our assumptions to create questions so we can calibrate for the future.

Using Body Language

We can use other people’s body language to help us create rapport with individuals, groups and at parties. Instead of mind reading, if we place our attention on the other person or people, open our peripheral vision and quieten our internal comments we will notice the rhythm of their whole body movements, speech and gestures. If we match these rhythms with our own bodies we will find ourselves being included in what is going on. This is not the same as literal mimicry. Accurate imitation often gets noticed and objected to. The intent is to match the rhythm by making some form of movement in the same rhythm without attracting conscious attention to it. When we feel included we can test the level of rapport by doing something discreetly different and noticing whether the other or others change what they are doing in response. If they do, you can lead them into a different rhythm or influence the discussion more easily.

When entering groups or parties, if we observe with open peripheral vision and internal quietness we may be able to spot the peer group leaders. They are the people with others around them, the ones who’s movements may be slightly ahead of the others and change first. If we want to influence the whole group, these are the people to match. We may want to establish rapport with each peer group leader individually, or simultaneously. We can do it simultaneously if we are within their visual field and matching their rhythm for a few minutes before engaging them. It is possible to change the direction of quite a large gathering by these methods.

Body Language and Vocal Patterns

Strictly speaking, nonverbal vocal patterns are not body language, but they can be used to establish or break rapport as readily as physical movement. If we match the rate or speed of speech, the resonance, tonality and rhythm used by a person, we will create rapport with them. Again, out and out mimicry is not recommended. Most people will catch it happening. It is more comfortable to match voice patterns at the equivalent pitch in our own range than to attempt note for note matching and to match unfamiliar breathing rhythms with some other emphasis.

Suppose we are voice matching on the telephone and now want to finish the call. The level of rapport is such that it has become hard to disengage. We can change any of the elements we have matched but often the other party simply matches us and carries on. In extreme situations no one minds an abrupt end to a telephone call. How often have we used “there’s a call on the other line”, “someone’s at the door” or “the dog has been sick on the carpet” to end a call without breaking rapport? Then there is the last ditch stand. Cut off the call in the middle of your own speech, not theirs. That way they will assume it was an accident. In person we can make our departure quite firmly and with rapport by doing rapport building with the body and departure with voice patterns or vice versa.

And the quickest and simplest way to use body language to establish rapport? Act as if we are totally fascinated by the person or what they are discussing. All the nonverbal signals we could wish for will come on stream by themselves.

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Managing Emotional Responses with NLP

Contrary to popular belief, NLP is not a therapy, although therapy practitioners who use it get spectacular results. It is not a sales training programme, yet sales people who use it also get spectacular results. It is not a personal development medium, yet personal developers who use it get spectacular results too. And it is not a suitable subject for home study. It works too well to be safe in the hands of the untrained, and is best learned with experienced and qualified NLP trainers. Would you attempt to learn scuba diving from a book, or from your neighbour who did a weekend course in the local swimming pool? This article offers insight into one of our cultural assumptions and ways, using NLP information, to learn to manage it ourselves.

NLP studies how we put our thoughts together, how we know what we know and how we construct our own experiences. And yes, our own subjective experiences are different from everyone else’s. And everyone else’s experiences are different from each others’. All of our thoughts, emotions, memories and imaginings are made from pictures, sounds and sensations. The differences between our common experiences come from the myriad sequences and placings we can make with sounds and pictures and sensations and in the choice of subject matter that attracts our attention.


Many people in the west find it easy to see their mental pictures and the rest can be taught quite easily. Everyone makes mental pictures; it is just that some people have not yet learned to notice them. Think about your own mental pictures of something you enjoy, for a moment. Are they coloured or black and white, still or moving, are they close to you or far away, large or small, portrait, landscape or wraparound? Which parts are in focus? Are you watching the scene as if it were live, or are you watching yourself in it, as if on video?

These are examples of how we can do the same thing differently from each other. You can change the meaning of an experience by changing one of these options. If you have chosen something you enjoy, find out what happens if you bring the picture closer to you, or make it bigger. You can move mental pictures simply by intending to do so. If you like the result, keep it. Otherwise put it back as it was and find out what happens if you intensify the colour. Make one change at a time. And remember to put it back the way it was between each change. If you find one or more changes that you like better than the original, keep them. Be careful to keep track of the changes you make to your pictures. If you do anything that you do not like, reverse it immediately. Ensure you finish with an experience at least as pleasant as when you began.

Auditory and Kinaesthetic representation

For most westerners, pictures are the easiest sensory representation to notice and alter deliberately. You can learn to make similar alterations to the sounds you hear and the sensations you feel just as easily. Move sounds from where they are to another location; changing the speed, the tones, the volume, as if you had a sophisticated mixing desk. You can increase or decrease the intensity of sensations, change the texture, heat them up or cool them down, slow the rhythm or speed it up, move them around, make them bigger or smaller or disappear completely.

You may have noticed that if you change a picture in one specific way, the sound and feeling change too, or if you change a particular aspect of the sound, the picture and feeling shift simultaneously. These are known as ‘drivers’. You will also have found that other elements change alone. Finding your particular driver differences is a quick way into your least easily accessed system (sight, hearing or feeling). For example, if your picture is moderately exciting, and it felt more exciting when you made it bigger, you changed the sensations by changing the picture. If your picture were fuzzy and it had distorted sound and scratchy sensations, would the picture come into focus if you clarified the sound and could the sensations become smooth through changing the sound?

Sensory representations and Emotions

There is a commonly held belief in western society that sensation cannot be changed at will and neither can emotion. There is a related myth that anyone who can change their emotions is faking, shallow, uncaring, or untrustworthy, unenlightened, repressed or ‘not ready’ to be ‘authentic’. Most cultures believe that one system (sight, hearing and feeling) is outside their control, but not all find feeling the most difficult. For example, Native American culture has a reputation for changing feelings and sensations with facility.

For Native Americans, visible mental pictures are equated with visions from their gods, and therefore given religious significance. The Sun Dance and Vision Quest rituals are specifically designed to heighten the chance of mental pictures becoming visible. Both rituals involve the initiate in extreme discomfort to a level that most westerners would find unacceptable. For Native Americans the pain control they practise during these rituals shifts their attention and alters their mental state sufficiently for them to see pictures. It works by overloading their preferred system (feeling) for normal purposes so that they have to do something else; in this case, see. As the ritual is framed as religious or spiritual, it is culturally encouraged for them to see mental pictures in that context.

The western equivalent is the personal development market, bungy jumping, adventure training, drug use and religious ritual. Westerners rate peak experiences by the intensity of sensation they experience at the time whether the vehicle is secular or religious. Some call it emotion, but the structure of emotion is … pictures, sounds and sensations, and the most convincing of these in the west is sensation.

Managing Emotions

The ability to feel what we want to, when we want to is a very useful skill. It frees us from the expense of seeking repeated peak experiences. One exposure is sufficient to use as the beginning of a personal library. After that you can alter it, intensify it, customise it in any number of ways by playing with the pictures, sounds and feelings that first went with it. Or you can build your library from scratch, using attractive bits of ordinary pleasure and enhancing and mixing them to your liking. The way in, as described above, is through pictures and sounds. Simply remember a pleasing occasion and make it big, bright, life-like, and maybe slightly slower. Step into it and turn up the sensations. Through practice you can increase your facility with sensation and learn to turn it up and down directly.

The next stage is literally managing emotion. There are two immediate ways of doing this. The first is good for neutralising unwanted emotional responses. If you are laughing at a funeral, crying at work or angry with an innocent person, to neutralise any of them, move the picture a long way from you, or shrink it down to the size of a postage stamp. You can always come back to it later if you want to regardless of what is in it. Make it small enough, or distant enough and for most people it will become less intense.

To invoke a particular emotion you want to display, remember or imagine a time when you would do that, and make a big, bright, close picture. Then step into it. This is great for thanking a special person for an awful present, or for producing remorse when you break someone’s favourite ornament that you have hated for years. Have you ever wished you could be more patient when training a child or an animal? Do you want to say ‘No’ to someone and mean it? Find a picture in your memory that has the quality of emotion you want. Make it big, close, bright and life-like, and a suitable state will follow.

The second way to manage emotion involves the feeling more directly. Leslie Cameron Bandler lists seven changeable parts to any emotion in her book ‘The Emotional Hostage’. These include rhythm, tempo, intensity, time frame, and personal involvement. Like the changes we made to pictures at the beginning of this article, Cameron-Bandler suggests making similar changes to the feeling of emotions to change them directly. For example, anxiety commonly has a fast, uneven rhythm, and is always concerned with the future. If you slow down the rhythm to an even 120 beats per minute, the feeling changes to something more comfortable. If you imagine being in a time after the event, anxiety vanishes. Remember a previous occasion when you were anxious about something and how much less alarming the event was in retrospect.

Guilt and shame require personal involvement. Guilt happens if you offend someone else’s values and it matters to you. Shame happens if you offend your own values, without recognising the more important value that you kept. If you imagine you are back before the event, there is no guilt or shame, because you have not done the deed yet. Alternatively you can reduce the intensity and change the rhythm. You may discover that you acted on another value of your own, or that you made a mistake. Mistakes are feedback to learn from. The consequences may be sad or irreversible, but they can become acceptable if you can consider them. For any emotion that you want to change, take the most obvious feature and alter it. Find out what happens. To enhance an emotion, take a feature and increase it. You may build a peak experience all by yourself. Wouldn’t that be something?

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The Myth in NLP of the Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic Person

Today, one of the hallmarks of a lack of appreciation of NLP is the notion that we “are” a representational system, as in “you are a visual, he is an auditory and I am a kinaesthetic”. A variation is “you are an auditory to visual to kinaesthetic and he is a visual to kinaesthetic to auditory” but this is just as benighted, only the box is bigger and if the very idea confuses you, that is how its user gets people to believe it. People do not have single, fixed sequences of thinking, however much they try to box ideas. How facile to attempt to identify a person on a single or small sample of expression, but this class of identification does make an excellent criterion to include in seeking a possible source of NLP training or practice.

Representational System Model

Representational systems is the name of a model of the way we code and order our thinking, memory and imagination. The model proposes that people think in combinations and sequences of images, sounds and sensations, tastes and scents. These internal representations match our external senses and when elicited in an associated form, like the sensory experience of being there, use the same neurological circuits as sensory experience. We distinguish linguistically between live sensory experience and internal representation by referring to sensory or representational vision, sound, feeling etc.

Everyone can use all internal representational systems simultaneously when attending internally, just as we can attend externally with all our senses, but often, only one system is in conscious awareness at any given moment. The supporting observations for this rely on personal reporting, choice of sensory specific words, known as “predicates” and the external evidence of eye accessing cues.

Eye Accessing Model

The eye accessing model proposes that people use location to gain access to the content of memory and imagination (this includes patterns). Material in different representations is accessed from particular locations by a flick of the eyes in the appropriate direction. The majority of people access visual representations by flicking their eyes above the eye line. Auditory or sound representations are sourced horizontally and feeling, both sensation and proprioception are found below eye level.

The distinction between accessing memory or constructed ideas is less clear cut. While there is a majority that keeps memory to the left of the body and imagination to the right, there is a sizable minority that does the reverse. Contrary to speculation in some NLP literature, the idea of a “normally organised right handed person” is not reliable. Ideally, to use eye accessing to assist someone retrieve information, we need to know exactly where each class of information resides for that person. We do this by asking questions to elicit deliberate accessing in each representational system and with reference to the past or the future. Questioning for future accessing needs to seek completely fresh ideas to ensure they have not been transferred to memory.

When information is accessed, it can be reviewed with the eyes on its location or it can be brought into our visual and/or auditory field and/or felt, smelled, tasted in the body. We can detect sequences of representation in someone else’s thinking through the sensory predicates they use and the directions of their eye movements.

Using Representational Systems

There is a choice, usually exercised unconsciously, of being aware of one or more representations simultaneously. When a memory or proposed situation is activated, we can become totally engrossed in it as if we were present in real time. Then we can experience all representational systems at once. If we represent the information as if from a distance, we might only see it or hear it, but in both these possibilities, use of more than one representational system is simultaneous.

Synaesthesia is another option. This occurs when we experience a representation, usually in a different system, in response to a sensory input or representation. Examples include, see favourite pet – feel warm glow; hear scratch on blackboard – feel teeth stand to attention; hear piece of music – see selection of colours. Synaesthesia is also the structure of phobias; see or hear phobic stimulus – experience disproportionately nasty feeling. The eye accessing evidence can be a fast flick of the eyes from one system to another, but this is seen with rapid multi-representational thought as well. If the eyes are defocused and facing front, this usually indicates a synaesthesia is happening. Synaesthesia can include more than two representational systems, though most reporting refers to two.

Outside NLP, most people are unaware of the way they use their internal representations or even that they have them. Synaesthesia is commonly defined as a condition a few people exhibit, not a choice. Some people are convinced they do not visualise and cannot learn to do it. In NLP, it is presupposed that we can learn to track our current uses of internal representations and learn to use the parts we have not known before. We can separate unwanted synaesthesias, create new and desirable ones, expand our repertoire of thinking by including habitually ignored representations and facilitate our capacity to learn with deliberate mental photographs and sound recordings. We can change the meaning we attribute to any content we think about by altering the size, volume, bandwidth, clarity, shape, brightness, temperature, distance, speed etc: of our representations of it. This uses a related model called Submodalities, which considers the packaging in which an image, sound or sensation is presented to us.

The myth of the visual, auditory or kinaesthetic person

When Grinder and Bandler first became aware of representational systems and eye accessing cues, it was through observation and listening. Grinder describes in “Whispering in the Wind”, hearing a conversation between two people in a petrol service station and becoming aware that they were using sensory specific words to each other, but from different senses. This did not produce smooth communication and it drew Grinder’s attention.

Grinder and Bandler conducted experiments with training groups, creating sub-groups based on sensory specific language. When they put strangers together according to the representational system used in their greeting, conversations were freer and more spontaneous in the group than when people were placed with others who greeted in different sensory predicates.

Initially, the idea of a preferred representational system was postulated, not to identify or label people, but as the basis for further research, which has been taking place ever since, with excellent results. But, the tendency of most people to take a single example of something, or an open proposal and over generalise from it occurred and the NLP community of the day welcomed the idea with open arms. Regardless of further observation and more discovery in the last 35 years, including evidence that we shift between representations when thinking and use all of them in different sequences or strategies, the original postulate has become an icon.

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Developing Choices about the Emotions we Experience with NLP

What is an emotion?

Most people, if asked, would identify a noticeable set of sensations (feeling) that they experience in response to a sight, sound and or touch from the world, or in response to something they were thinking about (internal representations). They would not necessarily take ownership of their response, nor would they necessarily recognize it as part of their own thinking process, which in fact, it is.

In NLP, we propose that thinking and emoting are accomplished using sequences of sensory representations to carry and frame the content of our thoughts and emotions. These representations include images, sounds and sensations carrying content gleaned from memory as well as our new creations. This assumes that all our life experience is stored in long term memory, otherwise known as the cognitive unconscious, and that links and relationships between units of knowledge or other material already exist along with the represented knowledge itself.

As we progress through the world, we respond to information, other people, our environment, our work and anything else we find. We also have the choice of attending to our internal world to think about whatever we choose, including but not limited to developing ideas, reviewing past events, creating new work and planning future moves. We attend to our internal world to experience emotions, too. These normally constitute thoughts in response to other thoughts or external experiences, but they still require us to access internal representations of units of content and the relationships between these units.

The difference, subjectively, is that emotions include a kinaesthetic component that is strong enough to be detected by us unequivocally. It is clearly present and far more conscious than the pictures, sounds and sensations that gave rise to it, whether they came from the world or from our own internal representations. Hence the common name of ‘feelings’ for emotions. Feelings are the obvious parts of emotional responses.

If we disregard the pictures, sounds and other sensations that contribute to an emotion, and attend exclusively to the strong feeling, it makes perfect sense to identify the strong feeling, name it and attribute its presence to anything that attracts our attention.

So if we have been generating our own emotional responses unconsciously and then noticing just the feeling component, now we can learn to generate emotions to order, changing the representations we find limiting and creating more of the states that serve and please us. This might raise a few eyebrows in mainstream culture, where the belief is that emotions happen to people and anyone who claims to have choice about their states is viewed with suspicion. However, there is no need to make a public spectacle of our choices. Simply enjoy the liberation of discovering that emotional choice is much more comfortable than living on an arbitrary emotional big dipper.

The Meta Model

The Meta Model of language is a set of questions used in NLP to clarify and specify distorted and over generalised thinking and restore missing information. Part of it provides a linguistic frame for identifying our beliefs about who is responsible for our emotions. Remember a common cultural belief that we can be held responsible for other people’s states; ‘Don’t say that, you will upset your aunt’, or ‘You are making your father angry’, ‘You frightened me’.

This presupposes that it is possible for one person to force an emotional state on another and that we live emotionally at the mercy of other people’s conduct. What is really going on is one person says or does something. Another person responds from their own internal resources and model of the world. The response may be habitual or novel, but it is generated by the respondent, not the other person.

To cloud the issue, there is cultural habituation and a level of influence from the previous conversation or relationship. We may believe there will be adverse consequences to ourselves resulting from someone else’s behaviour. The interaction could be construed as a larger system that includes both people. However, these are possible sources of influence only, not requirements or forcing. They are simply circumstances that could mitigate our developing emotional independence if we allow them to stop us. The bottom line remains, we can each learn to have choice in our own emotions if we want to and we can free ourselves from taking responsibility for other people’s emotional responses.

Describing our emotional responses 

Describing our emotional responses in sensory-based terms gives us ready access to changing them. When we become conscious of the images, sounds and sensations we are using, we can identify specific subcomponents. Useful subcomponents include size, brightness, shape, location, clarity of focus, rate and direction of movement, volume, bandwidth, amplitude, texture, temperature, rhythm and intensity. If we use these instead of attributing a name like ‘happiness’, ‘anger’, ‘mortification’, ‘pleasure’, we have something we can change. If we change one of the sensory aspects, we will find which ones lead any others to change simultaneously. When we identify our own specific sensory aspects that change more than just themselves, we have a way into shifting our emotional states quickly and effectively.

The Chain of Excellence

John Grinder proposes a four-step process for changing state, called the ‘Chain of Excellence’. Briefly, if we alter the way we are breathing, our physiology (posture and movement) changes, if we alter our physiology, our state, including emotions, changes and if we alter our state, our performance changes. This does not require any verbal description of a state and can be used in the moment. Most people have experiences of stopping a difficult activity and going for a walk. When they come back, in a different state, the difficulty has resolved itself. This is using physiology to change state.

While physiology can be used to change state, state also influences physiology, but not necessarily in the same way in all of us. Subject to the activity at hand, a resourceful physiology usually shows symmetry between left and right sides, even distribution of weight, an even rhythm in the body, an upright, balanced and symmetrical carriage and the minimal muscle tension required for the task. Alterations in attention, emotion and thought show to an observer as minimal changes in the physiology, but we do not know what the person is thinking, only how they are thinking and that changes are occurring.

Non-verbal communication and ‘body language’

This is non-verbal communication and is differentiated from the so-called study of ‘body language’. The exponents of body language try to put meaning to certain gestures and movements, regardless of differences between every person’s models of the world. One of the most crass is the notion that someone whose foot is pointing at another person is sexually attracted to that person. Another, equally inaccurate, is that sitting or standing with crossed arms means that person is ‘closed’. What happened to ‘cold’, ‘comfortable’, ‘habituated’, ‘resting’, ‘waiting’, and any other purpose that may be served by such a gesture?

Non-verbal communication provides us with ‘news of difference’ or information. Our attention is drawn to changes in posture, movement, rhythm, breathing, skin tone, and other minimal cues during interactions, and if we need to know what the other person is experiencing, we can ask them. It is a great way of discovering that other people really do have different models of the world from us and from each other.

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Reframing Neuro-Linguistic Programming: The Shift from Classic to New Code and the Imperative of Self-Application

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) has long been a part of the self-improvement and behavioural change industry. By modelling successful behaviour and mindsets, it offers a diverse range of processes designed to promote personal transformation. However, as with any discipline, the field of NLP has limitations. These become particularly evident when considering the application of NLP patterns to oneself. This article focuses on a major shift within the field, from the Classic Code of NLP (the original) to the New Code, highlighting how this transformational approach addresses the issues related to self-application of NLP.

It is common for students and practitioners of the Classic Code of NLP to encounter difficulties with self-application. This challenge, often overlooked in mainstream training, poses a serious impediment to mastering NLP and deriving personal benefits from it. Short NLP programs, many promising proficiency in as little as five to seven days, contribute to this predicament. By relying on scripted techniques, these programs often produce practitioners who lack the ability or inclination to apply NLP patterns to themselves.

To address this predicament, the New Code of NLP, along with our postgraduate program, provides the opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding and ability to apply NLP patterns both with others and, importantly, with themselves. A key element in this transformation is mastering the patterns through self-application, a process that equips students with the capacity to modulate and alter their emotional states and patterns of behaviours effectively.

The New Code isn’t just a reaction to the limitations of the Classic Code; rather, it’s an evolution of the original framework, fixing historical discrepancies that have emerged over time. John Grinder and Richard Bandler, co-founders of NLP, indeed demonstrated exceptional communication and change skills, but at the time they failed to articulate specific criteria for learning and teaching their material, inadvertently paving the way for other people to produce scripted techniques and content models.

The New Code, by contrast, provides clear benchmarking criteria for classifying material within the domain of NLP. It demands the application of minimal yet sufficient elements for change and exploration, making the NLP technology more easily applicable, ecologically sensitive, and widely transferable. This updated approach ensures that anyone can gain the benefits of this profound discipline, extending its influence beyond the realm of practitioners to everyday individuals seeking personal development.

The shift to the New Code in our postgraduate program doesn’t require a complete departure from the foundations laid down by Grinder and Bandler. Instead, it offers a more refined understanding of the principles of NLP. The new code design respects and elucidates the principles of the New Code, introducing appropriate material and re-coding some of the classic code formats for systemic and ecological content-free use. By grounding NLP education in first principles, our students not only learn to be adaptable when applying NLP with others but also master the vital skill of self-application.

In conclusion, the shift from the Classic Code of NLP to the New Code and the emphasis on self-application marks a pivotal moment in the field. This evolution of NLP, represented by the New Code, takes the discipline to a new level, improving its efficacy and making it more accessible to a wider audience, while maintaining fidelity to its founding principles.

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The Fascinating History of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) has become an increasingly popular approach in personal development, communication, and therapy. But where did it come from?

NLP was developed in the early 1970s by John Grinder, an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Richard Bandler, an undergraduate psychology student and another undergraduate student, Frank Pucelik. They started by modelling the skills of Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy. Bandler’s intuitive skills in Gestalt therapy were unconscious, so he couldn’t pass them on explicitly to others. The goal was to make the implicit skills explicit so they could be taught.

Grinder was able to achieve similar results to Bandler with clients and identified specific language patterns that Bandler was using unconsciously. Grinder, with his academic background in linguistics, recognised these patterns as belonging to a particular class of language patterns in linguistics, and was able to extend the collection of patterns to include others from the same class. Bandler and Grinder then tested the patterns and formulated the first model of NLP, the Meta Model.

The Meta Model provides a way of obtaining high-quality information from clients by responding to the form of their language. This model has proven useful in contexts such as business consulting, management, and any other context where obtaining high-quality information in human communication is critical.

Bandler and Grinder continued their modelling work and developed the representational system model, the eye accessing cue model, and the Milton model. The representational system model states that we represent our experience in the world with visual images, auditory representations, and sensations. By understanding the processes of how people use their representations, we can help others (and ourselves) create change. The Milton model, a linguistic model of the language patterns used by psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson MD to do therapeutic hypnosis, provides a method for communicating with the unconscious mind.

In the early 1980s, Bandler and NLP developers Connirae and Steve Andreas did significant work on developing the submodality model of NLP. Submodalities are the sensory elements that make up our representations, and this model has become an integral part of NLP.

Recent developments in the field of NLP have seen a major shift in emphasis towards a more balanced relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind, with the advent of the new code of NLP. This reorganisation was spearheaded by the co-creator of NLP, John Grinder, and his partners Judith DeLozier and then Carmen Bostic St Clair in the 1980s and through to the 2020s. Their work resulted in a new code that places an explicit focus on the separation of NLP modelling from NLP applications and recommendations for research methodology, with an emphasis on harnessing the capabilities of the unconscious mind.

One of the key features of the new code of NLP is its recognition of different roles for the conscious and unconscious minds in achieving change. While the conscious mind is responsible for gathering and arranging information for potential change, the unconscious mind provides the resources for implementing that change. Researchers are now recognizing the benefits of this approach, with recent studies published in a leading scientific journal highlighting the importance of the unconscious mind in making major decisions (Dijksterhuis et al, 2006).

Moreover, the new code of NLP places a greater focus on working with the influencer of behaviour: a person’s state of mind. By assisting individuals to achieve states of high performance and resourcefulness, their unconscious mind becomes more able to develop greater range and flexibility in their behaviour. The situation where change is desired becomes part of the process. The development of the new code of NLP has thus opened up exciting new avenues for understanding the workings of the human mind and creating positive change in individuals, organisations and society at large.

In conclusion, the history of NLP is a fascinating one. It started with the simple goal of making implicit skills explicit in the context of psychotherapy and has developed into a comprehensive approach for personal development, communication, management, coaching and therapy. By understanding the different models of NLP and their applications, individuals can achieve success and make meaningful changes in their lives.


Dijksterhuis, A., Bos, M. W., Nordgren, L. F., & van Baaren, R. B. (2006). On making the right choice: The deliberation-without-attention effect. Science, 311, 1005–1007.

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The value of Comprehensive NLP Training

What makes comprehensive NLP training worth doing?

Think about your emotions for a moment. They are so close to you that whatever you do, that is the way you do it. You are so used to your own responses that it is hard to step back from them. Consider your beliefs and values. How do you know what is OK and what is not OK? Do you use right and wrong as a yardstick, or perhaps legal and illegal? Have you thought of using “useful”,”productive”, or “ecological” as yardsticks? And how do you track those really deep beliefs that have not been conscious for years?

Then think about time. Of course the passage of time flows as usual, doesn’t it? Actually there are many ways to perceive time. It’s hard to imagine doing it differently from your way until you experience other people’s fascinating variety. You can learn different ways of perceiving time to suit what you are doing at any moment.

What does this have to do with NLP training? Isn’t NLP training supposed to teach you to “do” NLP to other people, to counsel, negotiate and exert your influence? Possibly even manipulate, seduce and impose your will? No it isn’t.None of these is ecological unless other people are willing parties to your efforts. If they are, you are not doing anything”to” them and it is a different ball game.

Units 1 – 4 of the Graduate Certificate of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a comprehensive personal development training where you learn to manage your own states of mind first,and know where you are putting your attention. Are you aware of your state and your attention? When you are, you can shift them at will and track an interaction simultaneously. You can review your own beliefs and values and change your thinking, emotions, skills and abilities as you choose.

You learn to interact cleanly with other people. Discover your boundaries between self and other and learn to take the position of an observer like a director watching a scene unfold. Make separation between others” behaviour as you see and hear it and your responses to that behaviour. Make another distinction between what someone does or says and the meaning you interpret from that. How often do you act on your interpretation of someone’s action?

As you learn to communicate accurately and clearly, you can gather high quality information through people’s language patterns.You can track deeply held beliefs through their unspoken assumptions and ask questions. You may not remember the names of these patterns. The mark of a skilled NLP practitioner is spontaneous expression of the patterns. Sadly, the mark of many practitioners is the ability to recite NLP training exercises wordperfect. This does not lead to understanding the patterns behind the format. Nor does it breed flexibility in using NLP. It has created a generation of people who do not realise that NLP is higher logical level than its products. For example NLP is not therapy; it explains how therapies work when they do and explains their limits.

It is very important to distinguish between patterns and examples of patterns. NLP formats are not patterns. They are examples of patterns fleshed out to bring them to life for learning purposes.When you are exposed to different examples of the same pattern and different patterns in combination over the training you will acquire an innate facility which is expressed in your own style. Learning formats word perfect is not recommended. Exercises are like the training wheels on children’s bicycle to be dropped off after sufficient practice. You will have enough contact hours to practice all the skills and learn a wide variety of patterns and processes.

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