Sunday, June 16, 2024

How Does Neuro-Linguistic Programming Actually Work?

Are you wondering to upskill yourself to succeed in life? Then perhaps, this psychological approach can be your best bet. Neuro-linguistic programming is a behavioral technique that can help you achieve your personal goals, overcome a tragedy, or even change the way you think of yourself. What are some of the effective neuro-linguistic programming (NPL) techniques, and how does NLP work? Read on to know the principles and benefits of NLP and what it is good for.

Two researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz during the early 1970s coined the term Neuro-linguistic programming, aka NLP. Its authors are Richard Bandler, then a mathematics and computer science student, and John Grinder, a professor of linguistics. The earliest recognized date of the concept is the year 1972.

A Definition of Neuro-Linguistic Programming

According to Richard Bandler and John Grinder, human beings possess a mind-body system. It is an interior-exterior type of system, with the mind being the internal part, and the body the external one.

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The researchers believed that this system develops connections in specific patterns.

  • These connections are formed between inner experiences (the neural area),
  • the language (the linguistic aspect),
  • and the person’s behavior (the programming aspect).

What Is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?


  • Thus neuro-linguistic programming means that our behaviors are influenced by what we say and what we hear and how we internalize this linguistic information.
  • NLP is a technique to change the way you perceive yourself or the incidents that have occurred in your life.
  • Bandler and Grinder came up with this concept as they were trying to understand the thought models and patterns of effective communicators to reproduce it.

Is NLP Worth Learning?

Before understanding how neuro-linguistic programming works, you must spend some time learning the benefits of NLP. 

Is NLP worth your time?

Yes, indeed. NLP can help you grow both in your personal as well as professional lives. Here are some of the benefits of learning NLP.

Some of the most noted benefits of NLP


According to experts, here are some of the worthy benefits of NLP that can help to improve and grow in life. 

  1. Overcoming beliefs that stop you to grow.
  2. Clarity on your vision and purpose of life.
  3. Improved self-esteem.
  4. Enhanced leadership skills.
  5. Increased willpower to deal with failure or pain.
  6. Dealing with toxic people.
  7. Free will and the ability to take more risks.
  8. Increased capacity to keep calm or anger management skills.
  9. Can help with issues like anxiety and depression.
  10. Can make you a better orator.

How Does Neuro-Linguistic Programming Actually Work? 

But how does neuro-linguistic programming actually work in reality?

According to its proponents, NLP detects and changes unconscious biases or limitations in the way people perceive the world around them.

It is frequently used as a form of psychotherapy in treating phobias, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.

However, many professional associations and businesses state that they use NLP to train people who want to be eloquent and effective communicators.

What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming used for?

NLP is especially used by many individuals as a medium for self-development to improve their skills. 

Here are some of the examples of who can use NLP to upskill themselves.

  • Business negotiators
  • Salespersons
  • Public speakers
  • Management trainees
  • Sports coaches.

NLP therapy starts with the identification of a person’s preferred representational system (PRS). PRS means the sense that people rely on most, and it is betrayed in language choice.

For example, when stating that they have correctly received a message, one can choose to say the following:

  • People can respond: I see what you imply, meaning their PRS is the eye.
  • They can say: I understand your thoughts – indicating their PRS is the mind.
  • Or just respond: I hear you – meaning their PRS is the ear.

The following therapeutic plan is based on the preferred representational system and may involve setting a goal, establishing rapport, or gathering information.

The key neuro-linguistic programming techniques are:

1. Anchoring

The therapist attempts to turn sensory experiences (sounds, images) into triggers for various emotional states (self-confidence, positive thinking, excitement, etc.)

2. Rapport

The therapist tries to reproduce the person’s body language to create empathy and improve communication with the person.

3. Swish pattern

The therapist tries to change a person’s patterns of behavior or to think to reach a positive (desired) outcome instead of a negative (undesired) outcome

4. Visual/kinesthetic dissociation

The therapist tries to remove a person’s negative feelings and thoughts associated with a past event.

how does neuro linguistic programming NLP actually work-alignthoughts

The Principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Starting from Bandler’s and Grinder’s work, various therapists built a series of principles that practitioners must follow in working with clients.

Essential Neuro-Linguistic Programming principles are:

1. People Relate To Their Personal Experience, Not To The Reality Outside.

According to this principle, each person perceives reality according to their own background, personal beliefs, education, and experience.

This can be demonstrated by comparing the testimonies of several witnesses to the same event. Every person perceives the actions and events in a specific manner, slightly different from the others.

2. It Is Better To Have A Choice Than To Have None.

In life and their mental processes, we must always encourage people to have as many choices as possible. The more options they have, the stronger and more influential they become.

In this neuro-linguistic programming technique, the therapist encourages the client to perform activities that widen their range of choices.

3. People Always Make The Best Choice They Can At A Specific Moment

This principle merely translates into trusting your instincts.

The first option that comes to mind is the best because the mind forms it based on past experiences within the map of the world outside they have internalized.

4. People Function Perfectly.

NLP rejects the fact that someone may be broken or unfit in any way. What is perceived by the world outside as a wrong decision or choice is, in fact, a poorly executed strategy.

The person needs to learn how others respond to the same situation and develop a better strategy.

5. All People’s Actions Have A Purpose.

The highlight of this neuro-linguistic programming technique is that people seldom act out illogically and purposelessly.

This principle emphasizes that others may not be aware of the ultimate purpose of a person’s act or deed, but it exists.

6. All Human Behaviors Have Positive Intent.

NLP differentiates between a person and the way they behave.

According to this principle, each intention is based on the desire to achieve something valuable and beneficial. The outcome depends on the behavior used to put this intent into practice.

When people can opt for better behavior, they will adopt it to reach their beneficial goal.

7. The Unconscious Mind Is In Balance With The Conscious Mind, And It Is Not Malicious.

In other words, there is no evil voice inside our heads. Instead, the unconscious part of us contains various resources to have a balanced, conscious life.

8. Communication Is Not Just Speaking, But Also The Response We Get.

There is no such thing as being misunderstood, according to NLP. If you do not get the expected feedback to your communication, you need to change the way you relay information.

It is your responsibility to send the message through in a manner that makes it understandable and acceptable by the interlocutor.

9. People Possess All The Resources They Need Or The Ability To Create Them.

Every person can be resourceful and achieve their goals – all they have to do is shift their state of mind to identify or create the resources they need.

10. The Person Is Formed Of A Unitary Mind-Body System.

The mind and bodywork together interact with each other and influence each other. For example, people with mental illness more often think less of themselves. They perceive them as ugly, stupid, etc.

Oppositely, confident people will see themselves as attractive and pleasant.

11. People Use All Their Senses To Process Information.

People who are very good at processing information and acting on it (successful people) are those who learned how to master and sharpen all their senses.

12. Emulating A Successful Mindset Leads To Excellence.

Success is the result of behavioral and mental patterns. To achieve success, people need to understand and reproduce these patterns.

13. Understanding Comes From Acting.

NLP believes in active learning through practical activities rather than theoretical education and memorizing.

Criticism of Neuro-Linguistic Programming Techniques

Certain NLP proponents have done this therapy a lot of disservice during the 1980s with exaggerated claims. There were claims that NLP can help cure Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. There is no supporting medical evidence for these claims.

In 2012, an in-depth review of NLP-related experimental studies conducted by Stuart et al. published in the British Journal of General Practice concluded that “there is little evidence that NLP interventions improve health-related outcomes.”

A few years later, in 2016, the British Psychological Society included neuro-linguistic programming among the 10 of the most widely believed myths in psychology.

In general, people present NLP in educational materials for higher learning as an example of pseudoscience and a quasi-religion related to the New Age movement.

According to you, what are the benefits of NLP? Does NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) actually work? Does it have the potential to help people improve their behaviors and achieve success? Or is it just a temporary fad that will soon lose all its supporters? 

Share your thoughts and experiences with NLP in the comments section below.

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Silvia Constantin
Silvia Constantin
SEO and Content writer, translator, dreamer. These are some of the words which describe Silvia. She believes in the power of words - both for good and for evil. She also believes that we can all choose to use words in a positive manner, to share information, ideas, feelings, and truth. There is nothing more rewarding than to be the instrument through which knowledge is shared among other people. From this point of view, she considers herself in a privileged position of trust, which she strives never to betray.

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