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What is NLP?
by Linda Cattelan


NLP is the acronym for Neuro Linguistic Programming. The study of excellence in communication (with yourself and others) in order to create the results you want!

Why is NLP important to know about?

  • If you are looking to make positive changes and improvements in your life or in the lives of others, than NLP can help make those changes quickly;

  • If you are feeling stuck, unsure of how to move forward, than NLP can move you forward;

  • If you aren't achieving the results you want in life, than NLP can provide you with the tools and techniques to identify desired outcomes and assist in getting you to your goals;

  • If any of the above rings true for you or you know exactly what you want, NLP can assist in getting you there quicker and easier.

NLP is an approach to understanding and directing human experience, communication and behavior.

Lets look at NLP a little closer:

Neuro is about the nervous system. Our life experiences are processed through our 5 senses-visual(seeing), auditory(hearing), kinesthetic(feeling/touch), olfactory(taste) and gustatory(smell). NLP is based on the premise that we experience our world through the 5 senses and translate sensory information into our thought processes both consciously and unconsciously. Our thought processes activate the neurological system which affects our physiology, our emotions and our behaviors.

Linguistic refers to our language and other non-verbal communication systems through which we make sense of the world, capture and conceptualize experience and communicate what we experience to others. In NLP, linguistics is the study of how we use our words to speak or influence our experience.

Programming addresses how we code or mentally represent experience. Our personal programming consists of our internal processes and strategies. I.e. thinking patterns we use to make decisions, solve problems, learn, evaluate, and get results. NLP is useful to recode our experiences and organize our internal programming so we get the outcome and results we want.

To simplify, NLP is the study of excellence in communication (with yourself and others) in order to create the results you want!

NLP is described as both an art and a science of communication, the key to learning and it's about what makes you and others tick. It's also been described as the route to getting the results you want in all areas of your life.

NLP started in California in the early 1970's at the University of Santa Cruz. The founders were Richard Bandler, a master's level student of information sciences and mathematics and Dr. John Grinder, a professor of linguistics. Their focus was to study people they considered excellent communicators and agents of change.

There are four pillars of NLP.

The first pillar is Rapport - this is one of the most important gifts that NLP has given us. When you are building a relationship with others and with yourself you want to build rapport. NLP teaches us great techniques that we can use to quickly gain rapport with individuals who we deal with at work, in our day to day family life or strangers we come across who we want to build rapport with quickly and easily.

The second pillar is Sensory Awareness - the ability to perceive or experience through the lens of our own 5 senses. Do you notice when you walk into someone's home or a new store what you see-the colours and décor, or do you hear-music playing or people talking or do you smell-food cooking, or do you notice flowers blooming. Each of us notices different things and uses our sensors to experience life. NLP helps us understand how each of us views the world and assists us in better communicating as a result of understanding how we perceive the world vs how others may perceive it. Asking questions and observing reactions or by knowing how a person processes information helps us better understand them and hence results in better communication with them.

The third pillar is Outcome Thinking. This is about knowing what you want rather than what you don't want. NLP provides you with tools that help you take charge of your life, in order to focus on desired outcomes and hence achieve the results you want. It helps you remove negative thoughts and beliefs and focus on desired goals instead.

The fourth pillar is Behavioral Flexibility. If something isn't working for you, its about being flexible and changing your behavior. Every minute of our day, we take in millions of pieces of information through the 5 senses. At the conscious level, we simply can't deal with that much information. So our mind filters the information we receive into chunks of 7 plus or minus 2 chunks containing about 130 bits of information a second. So what happens to the rest of the information, well we delete, distort or generalize it. Each of us will filter the information differently as we all view things differently based on our personal values, beliefs, attitudes, memories, past experiences and decisions.

NLP is about increasing choices. An attitude about life and a technology which empowers you with the tools and abilities to change anything you want in your life that's not working for you. Anything and everything is possible if you set your mind to it. By changing your mind and your attitude it does change your life! So many people spend time focusing on the negatives-the many things in their life they don't want. They have the choice and power to focus on what they want instead and attract desired positive results.

Change is up to you!

We have only scratched the NLP surface and there is so much more you can learn about this fabulous human behavioral technology. If you want to learn more about NLP I encourage you to read the book "NLP for Dummies" by Romilla Ready and Kate Burton. You can also attend an NLP training seminar.


The Author

Linda Cattelan

Linda Cattelan is a Certified Trainer and Master Practitioner of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and an active member of the Association for Integrative Psychology.

If you would like more information about NLP, coaching or would like to arrange a FREE sample coaching session please call Linda at 416-617-0734 or email Visit for additional information.

Many more articles in Communications in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2009 by Linda Cattelan. All rights reserved.

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