NLP is taught in a pyramid structure, with the more advanced techniques reserved for multi-thousand-dollar seminars. To oversimplify an overcomplicated subject, it more or less works like this: first, the user (or “NLPer,” as NLP people often refer to themselves?and I should note here that the large majority of NLP people, especially those who are primarily therapists, are likely well-meaning) of NLP pays very, very close attention to the person they’re working with. By watching subtle cues like eye movement, skin flush, pupil dilation and nervous tics, a skilled NLP person can quickly determine:
a) What side of the brain a person is predominantly using;
b) What sense (sight, smell, etc.) is most predominant in their brain;
c) How their brain stores and utilizes information (ALL of this can be gleaned from eye movements);
d) When they’re lying or making information up.
After this initial round of information gathering, the “NLPer” begins to slowly and subtly mimic the client, taking on not only their body language but also their speech mannerisms, and will begin speaking with language patterns designed to target the client’s primary sense.
An NLP person essentially carefully fakes the social cues that cause a person to drop their guard and enter a state of openness and suggestibility.
For instance, a person predominantly focused on sight will be spoken to in language using visual metaphors?”Do you see what I’m saying?” “Look at it this way”?while a person for which hearing is the dominant sense will be spoken to in auditory language?”Hear me out,” “I’m listening to you closely.”
By mirroring body language and linguistic patterns, the NLPer is attempting to achieve one very specific response: rapport. Rapport is the mental and physiological state that a human enters when they let their social guard down, and it is generally achieved when a person comes to the conclusion that the person they’re talking to is just like them. See how that works, broadly? An NLP person essentially carefully fakes the social cues that cause a person to drop their guard and enter a state of openness and suggestibility.
Once rapport is achieved, the NLPer will then begin subtly leading the interaction. Having mirrored the other person, they can now make subtle changes to actually influence the other person’s behavior. Combined with subtle language patterns, leading questions and a whole slew of other techniques, a skilled NLPer can at this point steer the other person wherever they like, as long as the other person isn’t aware of what’s happening and thinks everything is arising organically, or has given consent. That means it’s actually fairly hard to use NLP to get people to act out-of-character, but it can be used for engineering responses within a person’s normal range of behavior?like donating to a cause, making a decision they were putting off, or going home with you for the night if they might have considered it anyway.
From this point, the NLPer will seek to do two things?elicit and anchor. Eliciting happens when an NLPer uses leading and language to engineer an emotional state?for instance, hunger. Once a state has been elicited, the NLPer can then anchor it with a physical cue?for instance, touching your shoulder. In theory, if done right, the NLPer can then call up the hungry state any time they touch your shoulder in the same way. It’s conditioning, plain and simple.
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