During the course of my experience with NLP, I came across various situations where people were totally unaware of, or about NLP and some who thought they were aware. Often this second category of people had strange and weird representations about what they thought NLP was, or is about. As I encountered more of these, I began to think about what I could do to debunk these so called myths and separate fact from fiction.
This article attempts to do so with some of the aspects of NLP that I encountered and my views about those.
Fiction 1) NLP is some kind of New-Age, Pseudo-science or occult practice
This one tops the ranking in the list of opinions about NLP that I have encountered.
Those who have learned and imbibed NLP well, would know that NLP is just a model which teaches you how to identify a structure of any human experience and how the same is organized and in doing so find the possible ways in which this structure could be altered, if required.
It is not as if this is something new. People are already doing this to themselves and to others every day and every moment of their lives. Take for e.g., how many times have you or someone else said or done something which led to either you or someone else forming a belief that did not exist prior to the event?
Using this as an example, NLP is "a" model using which, you can learn the structure of how beliefs are formed and maintained in a persons subjective experience.
NLP is about identifying the "how" of a human experience - whether it is a mental process or an external behavior, whether it is for self or for others.
Fiction 2) NLP is just mumbo-jumbo based more on fantasy than reality
This is like saying that the schools that teach architecture, teach you to fantasize and do not give you a real education. And in a way, I would want to agree with this partially.
Yes, the schools of architecture teach you to fantasize about what you would want to construct.
Then, these schools go on further to teach you
- what factors would you need to take into consideration to build this structure,
- how would you represent these fantasized concepts onto paper (designs) so that others can get a common understanding about what was conceptualized
- how would you read and understand the paper design to start the process of building the new structure
- how would you test that the structure meets the design considerations
and a whole lot more....
In essence - these schools of architecture teach you how to fantasize about constructing a structure, how to turn that fantasy into reality and to identify what resources are needed to do so.
Fiction 3) NLP can only be applied to self (or others)
The statement that NLP can only be applied to one or the other is a very loose generalization. First and foremost, the very use of the word "applied" implies that NLP is only about things that can be "applied", thereby limiting the concept of NLP.
NLP is about getting an understanding of human subjective experience as perceived specifically by an individual, whether it is yourself or whether it is someone else. Once you have gained this understanding, then you have a choice of NLP tools and techniques to select from and to steer the interaction in a conscious, deliberate and purposeful manner in a direction of choice.
A loose analogy to explain this would be that once you have learned how to drive a car, then you have the ability to drive that, as well as most other cars, to take you from one point to another, presupposing that you know where you are and where you want to go and on the way, there may be many routes you could possibly take and you make a choice about which route you do take.
Fiction 4) One requires time to "do" or "use" NLP
This is another opinion I have heard about NLP and I have also heard this one from many people who claim they have attended courses and "learned" NLP so well that they have become experts.
The belief that NLP requires time, in most cases is formed by people who mistake NLP for a set of techniques to be applied. For e.g., if you were to think of learning a technique to massage - then yes, of course, it requires time and environmental settings to apply this technique.
The fact is that every human being is doing a lot of things simultaneously even though they may have a conscious attention on a few things. For example, you might be eating AND reading a newspaper AND listening to the radio/tv AND thinking about the things you need to accomplish in your office AND at the same time have some conversation with someone around you.
And you would be doing all of these things (and maybe more) all at the same time and focusing attention on a few of these things at any given instant and shifting the focus of attention from moment to moment based on some factor of your consideration.
The question is - what do you focus attention on, when and how do you choose to focus attention on that in that moment?
Learning the NLP model allows you to become aware of more things around, as well as within you and thereby making you aware of having a conscious choice of what you pay attention to when; and then adapt your internal state and/or external behavior in a manner which is more useful and purposeful.
Fiction 5) "NLP is only for therapy" or "NLP is only for personal lives" or "NLP cannot be used in business" (and other such variations)
Such beliefs and opinions, again are formed on the basis of a lack of clear understanding about NLP.
As mentioned earlier, NLP is about identifying the structure of any human experience and identifying organization of the same.
Is there any aspect of life where you are NOT having a human experience?
Do businesses NOT deal with people? Do businesses NOT require ability to alter peoples' beliefs? Do businesses NOT require to influence and persuade people? Do businesses not experience conflicts? Do businesses NOT have a strategy? Do business NOT want to develop new or improve their existing strategies? Do businesses NOT want results - and is it NOT people that deliver these results?
The fact is that whether it is personal life or whether it is business, people are involved. And where ever people are involved, there is a need to understand how the people operate (externally as well as in their minds).
The one who has a better understanding of how people operate, is the one who has the greater chances of having more beneficial interactions.
NLP is a model which gives the tools, techniques, methodology and attitude to dissect the structure of human behavior into individual components that can be studied independently as well as inter-related with each other.
NLP is a model which deconstructs abstract terminologies like feelings, empathy, relating, motivating etc., and provides a structured and well-defined basis for studying human excellence.
Therein lies the secret of NLP.