January 21, 2013
Modeling Excellence Series #1
What is NLP? How can we define it?
There are two answers that I like to give. First, NLP is a Communication Model and second, NLP is a Modeling Model. Yes, it can be framed as involving other things- a technology of excellence, a format for self-development, the success formula. Yet those ways of defining it are typically P.R. definitions, that is, definitions that serve the purpose of selling NLP. They are not truly descriptions of what it is.
Do you want to know what it is?
It began as distinctions of language regarding how some experts in communication were able to do by just talking what seemed like magic with their words. That’s why NLP began with the development of what was called “the Meta-Model of Language in therapy” (The Structure of Magic, Volume I, 1975). This was, at that time, eleven linguistic distinctions that enabled a practitioner to recognize an ill-formed word or sentence and ask a question that would challenge the speaker to speak in a way that would be well-formed in terms of clarity and precision. The Meta-Model is now 22 distinctions (see Communication Magic, 2001, which I wrote at Richard Bandler’s request to acknowledge the 25 year anniversary of the Meta-Model).
So it is a model of how communication works which was John Grinder’s contribution as he imported Transformational Grammar (T.G.). And in a way that de-mystified and simplified T.G., he formulated the language patterning of Perls and Satir so that they were useable by anyone. This contribution was modeled from Bandler by Grinder, and then practiced among them along with Pucelik and the practice group. So by modeling experts NLP arose as a Communication Model and as a Model for Linguistically Modeling human experience. In other words, the Communication Model of NLP became simultaneously the first Modeling tool of NLP! So that’s why I like to say that NLP is first a Communication Model and then a Modeling Model.
Given that this is what NLP is, I thought I would write a series of articles during this year of Modeling Excellence. There are several reasons I want to do this. First and foremost, this is the essence of NLP. To not know this (which is today all too common in the field) is to not understand what NLP is about, where it came from, what we can do with it, and where many of us are going with it.
This is also the essence of Neuro-Semantics, especially given that it began from my first modeling project on Resilience, and which ended in the discovery and creation of the Meta-States Model which, just as with the Meta-Model, is simultaneously a Modeling Model. Since that time, I have spent the past twenty-some years on 16 additional modeling projects and that has led to the dozen or so Neuro-Semantic models that extends NLP.
Nor is this something that is for only a few special people. My vision of NLP, and especially of Neuro-Semantics, is that this is something that every quality training in NLP should enable in practitioners. That is, every practitioner in this science and art ought to be able to model human experiences. And modeling human experience simply means being able to understand the how of the experience: How does it work? How do you do that?
After all, with the NLP models, you can begin to answer these how questions by using –
- The Meta-Model of Language and examining how the person talks and languages his or her reality that generates that reality.
- The Strategy Model whereby you can follow and make explicit the representational steps that comprise the person’s “strategy” for how he or she “thinks” and uses all of their physiology, neurology, to “make sense” and to create their reality.
- The Meta-Programs Model whereby you can begin to catch the meta-levels of frames and thinking patterns or styles that add to how the person operates.
- The Sub-Modality Model for how the person edits his or her representational movie which accesses various meta-levels of meaning and beliefs (because sub-modality distinctions work semantically, see Sub-Modalities Going Meta).
Then with the Neuro-Semantic models, you can complete the model of the how by using-
- The Meta-States Model of a person’s self-reflexive consciousness to track the thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, and meanings in the back of the mind and how they interface with the primary thoughts and feelings and how they set the frames for how a person operates.
- The Matrix Model so that you can track both the processes by which the person creates their matrix of frames and the content matrices that establish his or her sense of self.
- The Meaning- Performance Axes so you can determine the kind of meanings, quality of meanings and number of meanings that play into how the person creates their reality and the performances, implementing it in real life.
- The Self-Actualization Quadrants to measure how integrated the response is and how well it puts a person “in the zone.”
- The Matrix Embedded Volcano to relate how the person’s basic and meta-needs are met (or not met) in the process.
- The Axes of Change and/or the Crucible to evaluate the processes of change, how the change is occurring or not, and how to better facilitate the desired change.
All of this, of course, requires quality training in NLP and Neuro-Semantics, training that includes learning how to model. This is one of the things we emphasis in our Trainers’ Training, that trainers enable participants learn how to model the structure of experience. So to that end I will be writing a series of articles on Modeling.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.