What is NLP?

This high level guide to NLP is designed to give you an overview of the principles of NLP and how it can help you.

What is a Definition of NLP?

NLP is a subjective interpersonal communications model, comprised of a grouping of insights and skills that help you to be in charge of your life by giving you control of your thoughts and feelings.

How can NLP Help You?

You may wonder if you should learn NLP, how could it be useful for you?

NLP provides a means to improve overall effectiveness with specific skills that are applied to life and work to give people outstanding results.

What are the main applications of NLP?

At a high level people learn NLP techniques, processes and strategies because they want insights and the tools to:

  • Feel in charge of their mental state – or their moods and emotions

  • Communicate persuasively and effectively

  • Personally develop – live life more fully with nlp tools and techniques

What is NLP for?

NLP is widely used in the fields of coaching, therapy and business but that is not all it is for

NLP is about improving and developing not ‘putting out fires’ or fixing something broken. It’s all about helping you find new and more creative approaches to life’s challenges

Who Uses NLP?

NLP is for people who are motivated to do better, who want to move beyond their own limits and beliefs

It is for people who want to learn and model advanced interpersonal communication skills and create a developmental mindset so they can achieve what before may have seemed impossible or very difficult.

Core NLP Concepts

Since it’s inception NLP has evolved with many interpretations and ‘codes’. After all, this innovation is what has kept NLP at the forefront of human technology and personal development.

A good way to understand the spirit of NLP is to become familiar with some of it’s core concepts or presuppositions.

1. The Map is not the Territory

We can never be capable of ever truly knowing reality, we can only know our perception of reality.

We then interact using our sensory systems in our perceived reality and it is only this interaction itself that actually gives any meaning to our perception of reality – not ‘reality’ itself.

A good example of our differing maps of the world is to imagine taking a stroll down the street with me.

I might notice a bird in the tree while your focus is on a neighbourhood dog barking at the bird.

I notice the smell of coffee from my favourite café while you smile at the friendly barista.

At any one time we are using our sensory systems to filter out a multitude of information and deciding what we focus on. Our map of the world.

The most effective and successful people have a map of the world that allows them to perceive the greatest amount of perspectives and therefore the available choices around them.

2. Models of The World

You have learned the empowering truth that reality is not what causes limitations in our lives, it is only our perception of reality that really limits us.

We don’t actually live in reality, rather we live in our own subjective map or model of the world.

This map or model is very different between people; this is why we have two very different experiences when we walk down the road together.

Our interpretations and the meanings that we derive from situations or experiences are all internally constructed it is just that we aren’t usually aware of this perception process.

This is why NLP is so powerful – because when you have understanding of your own internal perception of reality and how you have created this version of reality, then you can work with this perception and transform it in a way that will work best for you.

3. Behaviour Modelling

The principle of our ‘models of our world’ – teaches us how to understand our perceptions and our subjective reality.

But NLP is not just about realising our internal subjective reality, it is also about improving upon our lives or our reality.

This is where NLP first grew from – a process of ‘Behaviour Modelling’.

In the ’70s – Grinder, a linguistic professor and Bandler, a student of psychology – wanted to study the thinking and behavior skills used by exceptionally effective and successful people.

Virginia Satir, Fritz Perls, and Milton Erickson were initially chosen because they were very well known to elicit amazing life-changing results for their clients.

The result of this study are analysed and modelled principles and methods that are still taught today as part of NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner Training. Techniques such as anchoring, sensory acuity, satir styles, reframing etc. were established.

This is how NLP can be a skills based discipline that is useful as well as practical.

This is why NLP is so exciting – by making the changes to your own experience of reality, you naturally increase your ability to build on your strengths and make positive changes to your life when when you understand your own weaknesses.

4. NLP Communications Model

A major NLP breakthrough was the discovery that there is structure to our subjective experience.

Our interactions between each other and our environment influence each other, this creates a series of systems and sub-systems none of which are able to exist in isolation.

The mind itself is an example of one such complex system.

From the beliefs we hold that limit us or create possibility to our emotional states which impact upon our effectiveness.

When an event or interaction occurs and is filtered through our Meta Programs – the event or interaction is processed, distorted, generalised or erased before eventually becoming Internally Represented.

If you consider this process in the context of a person’s mind state and physiology, you start to appreciate the wide variety of responses that are possible in any interpersonal interaction. And if you then take this a step further and alter or change any one of these factors you start to appreciate the many different possible internal responses to any single event or interaction.

5. Meta Programs

Meta Programs are the highest-level filters that guide our motivations, aims and purpose, this is the direction that the conscious mind focuses attention towards.

In a nut shell, they are the way that you process information and how you construct your internal representations and therefore the way you behave.

They determine how we make decisions, how we motivate ourselves, why we buy things, how long we stay in a job or relationship, problem solving, personal effectiveness, what we are interested in.

They are patterns in thinking style and strategies that we employ and they are in effect what others perceive as our personality.

The truth is that these are things we do rather than who we actually are and because Meta Programs are processes rather than traits we can change them.

It does not take much imagination to understand how profound it can be to understand your meta programs and how to change them.

6. Belief Systems

So we each live in a self-created and subjective reality, and a lot of what we know about our reality is shaped by our beliefs.

The beliefs we have about ourselves, other people and how the world works are to a large extent how our map of the world is formed.

It is when we become aware of our beliefs and make shifts to some of them we can make significant changes to our lives.

Our beliefs (and therefore our Values) are not fixed and you can achieve major improvements in self-growth by identifying and changing your limiting beliefs.

7. NLP Meta Model

The metamodel is a linguistic tool based on the knowledge that we don’t directly operate in the world but rather form an internal representation or map based on our sensory organs. The three universal modelling processes are Distortion, Generalisation and Deletion.

Distortions – the process by which you manipulate sensory data i.e. bring information into your mind and then playing with it in your mind to create new ideas or understandings – a way of imagining the future that causes you either pleasure or pain.

Generalisations – the process by which you take an element of your map of the world and use it to represent an entire category of experience. This can work for and against you, e.g. having a bad experience with a teacher does not mean all school teachers are the same.

Deletions – the process of selective attention. It is obviously impossible to pay attention to each and every point of information that reaches your senses.

Whether consciously or unconsciously at some level of awareness you must decide what to pay attention to.

Deletion can be useful in some contexts or may inhibit your experience in others. E.g. if you delete positive comments from your boss and instead choose to focus on any criticisms then you may feel undervalued at work.

By understanding and using this model to question yours and others language or words you can enhance the quality of communications as well as gain insight into how you and others think.

Applied NLP for Coaching, Leadership and Interpersonal Communication

Thought Coach specialises in teaching how to apply NLP to the areas of Coaching, Communication and Leadership.

Our innovative trainings and courses are designed to allow you to get the theory behind NLP while getting a hands on learning experience of NLP processes and tools.

You can apply NLP in many ways to help with persuasion, influence and communications.

NLP helps with persuasion by understanding someone’s model of the world. Knowing their communication preferences and meta programs and beliefs means you can positively communicate with people in a way that makes sense to them, resonates and influences them.

An example of an NLP application for influence can be in rapport building – by playing to someone’s sensory communication preferences and mirroring body language and verbal language, pace and tone can have massive implications to the ability to influence.

NLP also helps make for effective communications. NLP Communication Models such as artfully vague language and clean language can produce very clear communications that get to the heart of how a person prefers to communicate.

Read on to find out how you can learn to apply NLP.

How Can You Learn NLP?

NLP is one of the most potent and effective mind technologies that we have at our disposal. As you can probably understand from this article it’s applications and the ways it can help you are exciting.

If you are interested in learning NLP then there is plenty of content out there and you could just immerse yourself in NLP books and online videos.

However, NLP is a skill rather than information or data. It’s really about ‘doing’ rather than ‘knowing’.

The best way to ‘learn’ NLP is in a live situation with plenty of opportunity for interaction and practice.

To really learn NLP and get the most you can from it, an interactive personal and professional development experience is recommended.

Applied NLP with Thought Coach

Harness NLP to Take Your Interpersonal Communications to the Next Level

I first came across NLP in 2003 while working in telephone sales. An NLP expert came in and we learned how to apply NLP to phone sales.

By applying NLP to the specific skill of sales, I was able to rocket my sales performance and it started my fascination at the power of these processes.

Fast forward 15 years and I am now someone who employs NLP in all aspects of my life both personally and professionally.

When I founded Thought Coach I wanted to integrate the power of NLP into coaching and ‘soft’ skills or people skills.

I want others to get the same benefits I so quickly got all of those years ago in my sales job.

I have taken the core areas of my expertise in coaching, interpersonal communication and NLP to create one-of-a-kind personal development courses that give you the HOW of personal development.

I have been involved in the personal development industry for over 15 years, my aim is to harness this extensive knowledge and empower you with the highest impact NLP Techniques, Processes and Skills to accelerate your personal development.

Julie Rice
Personal Development Coach
Master NLP Practitioner


Taught Comprehensively in Small Workshops and Courses


Hands on Practical Exercises, Where you learn by ‘doing’


Learn from the Practical Experience itself with expert feedback


Coached by Julie Rice, Certified ICF Coach and NLP Master Practitioner

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