What The Heck Is NLP?
NLP has been around for a long time. It is a very peculiar set of communication tools. There are many beliefs surrounding NLP that are just plain false. The truth about NLP is that it is very simple to learn, and extremely powerful. But at the same time, there is a widespread belief (which we will see is based on some truth) that NLP doesn’t even exist.
Some other ideas are that NLP is a super secret form of mind control that only powerful people know about. By the time you finish reading this article, you will know a lot more about NLP than even the most widely respected trainers. Seriously? Yes, seriously!
History Of NLP
Why NLP is called NLP is the first bit of mystery. But it’s really irrelevant why it’s called what it’s called. Why call it anything? Well the first reason is you are teaching some things to people and you can get people to call it a name, then you can copyright that name. It’s also useful in brand recognition, which makes it easier to get customers. Suppose you opened a gym and wanted to each self defense. Which do you think would attract more customers, “Joe’s general self defense class,” or “Master Kwan’s Karate Dojo”?
NLP Is A Business
From the very beginning, the two guys that “discovered” NLP (Richard Bandler and John Grinder) started making money from it. When it was “discovered” one guy was a student, and the other a professor of linguistics. Students don’t make any money. Professors of linguistics don’t do much better. But trainers of a new super powerful persuasion technology? They make tons of money!
Branding Is Crucial
Whenever you start any business, the name is very important. Imagine if instead of calling it something exotic (neuro-linguistic programming) they instead called it, “Dick and John’s communication training.” The first one sounds cool, and would attract a lot of students from around the world. The second one sounds lame, and might not even fill a room at a local community center.
NLP Was Copied
The people who “discovered” NLP didn’t really discover anything. They copied it from people who were already using it. What people? People who, instead of using to make tons of money, were using to help people. People that were using it in therapy to help people overcome problems. In fact, if NLP had been “discovered” today, they both might have been sued for copyright infringement.
As the story goes, one of the “inventors” was transcribing recorded therapy sessions. The therapist was interested in writing a book about his techniques. Right off the bat, this raises privacy concerns. A student had been hired to transcribe recorded sessions that were supposedly covered under doctor-patient confidentiality.
NLP Was Reverse Engineered
So this student, in transcribing this therapists recorded sessions, noticed a lot of useful language patterns. Then he took these patterns (he’d be sued if he did that today!) to his professor, the linguist. Then they “borrowed” these patterns and tried to see how they worked. This is more or less the way NLP was “discovered.”
NLP Was Taught
If this was all that happened, it really wouldn’t be such a big deal. Companies secretly copy from each other all the time. Companies like Coca Cola and Google keep their secrets secret for a reason: They know others will try and copy them. This is just how business is done. That it’s illegal today and not illegal back then is as much a statement of our overzealous litigation environment than anything else. So far, this is nothing more than an interesting story about how “NLP” was “discovered.”
First Taught As Therapy
The two guys who discovered it tried teaching this to other therapists. But they soon found that there was a much bigger market. One in sales, and one in self help. This was back during the sixties and seventies, when trying new things was very popular. NLP came at the right time, and they had a huge market just waiting.
NLP Continued To Evolve
The idea of copying the techniques from a very effective therapist was very compelling. If they could learn a lot from that guy, why not copy a bunch of other very effective communicators? This is more or less how NLP was filled with all kinds of ideas. And to their credit, Bandler and Grinder did come up with some stuff of their own. But the bulk of NLP was made up of techniques that were reverse engineered from people who were NATURALLY GIFED communicators.
What Does This Tell Us?
NLP is, more or less, a collection of techniques that are reverse engineered (copied) from people who naturally use them. And guess what? In every generation, some people are naturally persuasive, and some people aren’t. What does this mean?
Study The Letters Of St. Paul
St. Paul has often been referred to the Greatest Salesman Who Ever Lived. After all, he did a lot of traveling around, and preaching to the early Christian communities. From a purely persuasion standpoint, most of the New Testament is made up of letters St. Paul wrote to the communities that he’d already preached to. They are more or less “follow up letters” to sales visits. And guess what? They contain a lot of “techniques” from NLP, such as pacing and leading. Does this mean St. Paul studied NLP? Not likely. It just meant he was a very persuasive communicator, as people are when they truly believe in the importance of their message.
Do Politicians Know NLP?
Many people look to politicians and use them as examples of “unethical” NLP. But it’s very unlikely that any politician has ever studied NLP. Sure they study speaking, they study persuasion. They people that teach them persuasion are people who are naturally persuasive. People who were naturally persuasive, and trained politicians to be persuasive were around long before NLP was “invented.” Cicero was one of the most famous, most elegant, and most persuasive politicians around. Did he study NLP?
Why Does Nobody Believe In NLP?
So, if NLP was reverse engineered from people who are naturally influential and persuasive, why do some people that NLP is a myth? Certainly the people who are naturally persuasive aren’t a myth. St. Paul really WAS very persuasive. That is absolute fact, and even if the whole idea of Jesus is a myth, St. Paul existed. His letters existed. Their persuasive power is a historical fact. So why do people think NLP is a myth?
This is when it gets a bit confusing. But if you understand WHY it’s confusing here, that is really great news. Because inside of this confusion, inside of all the mythology of NLP, you will find a secret that can make you a very powerful communicator. Because this “secret” isn’t really a secret at all, it’s just something that is NOT taught in any NLP seminar. When you get to the end of this post, you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean. And even if everybody “knows” this secret, very few will act on it. But if YOU can act on it, you will be the more persuasive communicator anybody you meet has ever seen!
When babies are born, we are not nearly as formed as other mammals. This is an aspect of our big brains, compared to our body size. As a result, we have to spend a LOT of our time learning. And most of that time is not anything we remember. If you are like most people, you may have some vague ideas about preschool and kindergarten, and maybe first grade. But that time, up to first and second grade is when we humans learn a LOT. Except we don’t remember much of it.
Unconscious Modeling As Children
Most of what we learn comes from modeling. This is how humans learn naturally. We see people doing something, we want to do that, so we copy them. We learned to walk this way. We noticed all the people around us walking, and we wanted to walk to. Crawling is slow!
Eventually, when we got to school, we switched to conscious modeling. The teacher would write stuff on the board, and we would copy her. Then she’d solve problems, (like long division or fractions) and we’d try and copy her. We’d keep trying until we got it right.
Unconscious Modeling As Adults
When you pick up habits (usually bad, according to your parents) from your friends, you don’t do this consciously. You probably don’t even know you are doing it. You start talking like they do, you might dress like them, and even smoke or drink like them. We humans do this all the time. We are very social creatures and we are very good at “soaking up” behavior from others. This is normal human behavior.
Requirements Of Unconscious Modeling
There are a few basic requirements for unconscious modeling to happen. One is you either have to have an affinity for the behavior (like walking when all you can do is crawl) or you have an affinity for the person doing the behavior. If all the cool kids at school smoke, you will want to smoke. You won’t think,”wow, all the cool kids are smoking, I want to smoke too!” You just have a desire to smoke. You might recognize the connection, but the desire is unconsciously installed.
Unconscious modeling can take time. Smoking is a very easy thing to do, if you don’t smoke. You might to learn how not to cough, but lighting a cigarette is easy. Walking, on the other hand, takes time, especially if you’ve never walked before. Learning fractions takes time and practice. Even if you thought your teacher was the coolest human on Earth, you would still need to practice long division for a while before you could do it as well as she could.
Time Required Is Dependent On The Complexity Of The Skill
The harder the skill is you are “soaking up,” either from unconscious modeling or conscious learning, the longer it will take. Here are a few examples of learning a complicated skill.
Supposed you were head over heels in love with your calculus teacher. And you were convinced that they way to their heart was to master calculus. You would be the most motivated student on Earth. But what if, up until that point, you were only a so-so math student? Suppose you just barely made it through geometry and Algebra. And the main reason you signed up for calculus was to be near the girl or guy of your dreams. Would your ultra strong desire to learn calculus make it happen quickly? Maybe a little quicker than normal, but it would still take time!
This is going to be a stretch, but play along! Suppose you really wanted to play basketball. Your father was very powerful, and he pulled some strings to get you on the team. But the coach absolutely refused to acknowledge your existence. The other players also refused to even talk to you. But the rules said you had to play during practice, and during games. Since nobody would take the time to explain anything to you, you would have to learn just by playing and copying and trial and error. This learning would be mostly unconscious, as you’d need to soak up the skills of the players through observation, trial and error. How long would it take before you were a decent player? Quite a while.
Mix Of Conscious and Unconscious
Let’s say you joined the CIA, and they were going to send you to Russia to infiltrate the Russian mob. But before they did, you had to learn Russian. So they put you in a Russian school (staffed by hot Russian teachers) that was full immersion. You would have to study from a textbook at night and you would have to survive by your wits during the day. Even the most advanced language immersion schools would take a few months.
The Mistake Of NLP Teaching
Nearly all NLP is taught as if it’s hypnotically implanted into the minds of the students. They pay a bunch of money, travel to some exotic location, and do a bunch of exercises with other students. Then they leave, and have their Master Practitioner Certificate, and really believe they are now skilled in NLP. Is this an out and out con? Why do they believe this?
These are when people purposely mislead others. That’s not we are saying. What we are, however saying, is that there is a lot of misinformation flowing around in NLP seminars. In the Soviet Union, they had an expression: “The workers pretend to work and the bosses pretend to pay them.” This is what happens in a lot of NLP seminars. The instructor talks about a lot of neat sounding ideas, and then the students practice them on each other.
Unexpected and Subconscious Cons
But just the metaphysical Soviet Union workers and bosses, the students, since they are students are by definition beginners (trying something out for the first time). Yet when they try these NLP techniques on other students, they work perfectly. Then they switch and try the pattern or technique on the other person, they work equally perfectly.
It’s not unlike the video below. It’s a very sad story. The instructor believed he was teaching a very powerful, and very esoteric martial art. It worked perfectly inside the seminar room. So much that both the teacher and the students were convinced it was legitimate. But then an actual practitioner of martial arts challenged the esoteric teacher. The match lasted less than a minute, and the esoteric teacher was met with the harsh reality and a bloody nose.
Pretend Teaching – Pretend Learning
Built In Refund – Proofing
In NLP training, all of these students have paid quite a bit of money to be there. If they were to suspect these techniques wouldn’t work outside of the seminar room, they might have to ask for a refund. What would happen if they asked for a refund? They would of course get it. But they wouldn’t get a refund on their airfare or lodging (which are booked for the next week or so anyway and likely paid in advance).
They would also have to go home, face their friends and tell them they’d been conned. That they took two weeks off from work, spend several thousand dollars to practice some mumbo jumbo that wasn’t really all that effective. Any normal human in that situation would not do that. Any normal human, due to cognitive dissonance, normalcy bias and plenty of other biases would be very unlikely to not have anything less than a wonderful experience.
Why Are NLP Seminars In Far Away Places?
Not just NLP seminars, but any seminars that have anything to do with communicating with other people. And what are the two main reasons to communicate differently with other people? Sex and money. What about being assertive? Look around and see if you can find some assertiveness training in your local area. Chances are you’ll find some very inexpensive and very local courses. This is because being assertive is a real need by real people who actually plan on using the assertiveness skills outside of the classroom.
The NLP Is A Myth Idea
We humans are used to certificates of achievement. We proudly hang our diplomas on our walls, and if you’ve ever talked to a counselor or attorney or any licensed professional, they had theirs right where you could see them the entire time you were talking to them. This is an authority signal, and authority is one of the Cialdini’s seven laws of influence.
So when people pay money to attend NLP seminars in exotic locations, they are given a certificate. A very impressive certificate. It looks and feels like a license. They are even given a title of “Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming.” But in order to be able to “sell” those certificates that have the words “Neuro Linguistic Programming” on them, that particular instructor must pay a licensing fee to the owner of the copyright of NLP, which is Richard Bandler. (Or used to be).
The end result is that the world is awash with Licensed Practitioners of NLP. But they haven’t ever used NLP outside of the classroom. So when they talk about NLP, that’s all they do. They talk ABOUT it, the rarely use it. Because they only people they ever used it on were their co-students who were equally pretending to “learn.”
This creates a very lucrative market for instructors. Why? Because they teach things that nobody will ever practice outside of the seminar room. I’m not saying AT ALL that any of the instructors of NLP, Hypnosis or any related techniques are con artists. They are doing whatever marketer and entrepreneur SHOULD do, which is try any product they can think of, and try to sell it. If it sells, they make more of it. If it doesn’t sell, they stop making it. This has been the rule of business since the dawn of time.
All Kinds Of Metaphysics
This allows for a huge collection of ideas that sound good in theory, they work well in the seminar (because everybody there has paid tons of money to be there) and they’ve convinced themselves it’s legitimate (like the poor martial arts instructor above). It’s even a self-sustaining market. Why?
Typical Student Response
Consider a typical student who goes to a seminar, or pays several hundred dollars for on online course. They study it, practice it in the seminar room, and feel pretty good. But then a couple of months go by, and there are starting to notice their life hasn’t changed much. So they suspect that maybe they should actually try some of the patterns and techniques they’ve learned in the seminar. But if they are like most other far-away seminars, the reason the student took the course was for more sex or more money. Two things that cause the most anxiety in most people.
So the student is faced with a choice. Actually get out there, and practice. Or they could maybe study some more. Maybe there is some hidden technique that will make it EASIER to practice. So they turn back to the idea of studying (and practicing) safely in the seminar room. This mindset makes up the bulk of students of anything related to NLP and Hypnosis. Students who are “seminar junkies” and are really no different than those who follow motivational speakers (another topic of a long post!) around the country and end up spending tens of thousands of dollars.
Good News – Really Good News
The really good news is that the nuts and bolts of the most essential parts of NLP and Hypnosis are incredibly easy to learn. They don’t require any esoteric ideas. All they require is practice. And an understanding that they are like any other skills. If you want to get better at the piano, you would need to practice for a long time. If you wanted to learn another language, you would have to practice for a long time.
NLP and Hypnosis As A Foreign Language
This is the model I’d like to leave you with. Consider NLP and Hypnosis, and all the related persuasion techniques as requiring enough time and patience as learning a foreign language. This is good news. This is fantastic news. Why? Because you don’t need to spend more than twenty or thirty bucks for the source material. You don’t need to attend seminars or even online courses. All you need is the source material (which you can get from our Mind Persuasion books available on Kindle), time and patience.
What Is Really Possible
The techniques and patterns themselves are extremely easy to learn. What is going to take time is practicing them enough so they feel natural and normal. It’s like trying to change your grip on your golf swing as an adult. It will feel weird for a while, and then it won’t. It’s like learning the scales on the piano. At first it will seem strange and cumbersome and even frustrating. Until it won’t. Until it becomes normal and natural and enjoyable. Instead of creating frustration it will relieve stress.
Super Powers Of Persuasion
And you will be creating something that few people have, even the most famous trainers of NLP. And that is actual skills of covert persuasion and influence. Or cover seduction. Forget putting up the certificate on your wall. You don’t need any certificate. Because you’ll have the most powerful communication skills on the planet. And you will have done what few people every do. And that is train them to the point where they are actually useful. You won’t ever have to talk about them. You’ll just use them for deadly results. More money, more sex, better jobs, better relationships. No seminars required. Boom.
Start Learning Today
Have a look through our full courses, or take a look through our Kindle books. Most kindle books are $2.99, a couple are $6.99.