NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming, that magic word what does it conjure up?
For many NLP practitioners its technology for the 21st Century, called “The study of human excellence”, but is it really all its cracked up to be?
We have buzz words, modeling, anchoring, sub modalities, maps, but what do they really mean?
NLP was invented (or re-invented) by Dr Richard Bandler & John Grindler thirty odd years ago. Bandler, a maverick Doctor of linguistics has a chequered background, an ex cocaine addict, former Hells Angel, he was once arrested on suspicion of murder. In 1988, Bandler was tried and acquitted of murdering a prostitute, Corrine Christensen. She’d been found slumped over a dining table, a bullet in her head, her blood was found sprayed on Bandler’s shirt. And this is a Guy that proclaims he can show you how to run your own life makes you think doesn’t it.
There are a huge number of NLP practitioners worldwide and they attend very brief training courses that are self certified by their own training body, that no-one ever fails, and all are presented with the appropriate certificate at the end which is all included in the fee.
Some of the more cynical among us may be wondering just how much about psychology and human behavior can possibly be learned in a week, or a long weekend. The average length of the new class is anything from a weekend to five or ten days. That is supposedly plenty of time to know all there is to know in order to embark upon on a career as a life/business coach or whatever, that will enable you to deal with a wide range of needs, from deep seated emotional problems to dealing with fears and phobias to increasing your own wealth and the wealth of others (of which I will touch on later).
Yes, you too can not only help people to feel better about them selves but more crucially feel better about them handing over their cash to you.
I attended one such seminar last year in a bland hotel near to Victoria station. A charismatic young man entered stage full of so much energy I thought he had overdosed on double espressos.
He commenced to get the 200+ crowd of seekers motivated by getting us to massage our neighbor’s shoulders, hug them and generally be over friendly with people that you probably would not want to be in a lift with, never mind have close personal contact with. He then spoke for a mind numbing two hours about how he had changed his life and how he could change ours (for a fee). There was a fifteen minute break for coffee then he bounded again on stage and commenced to get us singing Rule Britannia!
After a further two hours of mind programming and suggestion (sorry talking) he demonstrated some feats of positive mind power by getting a few people up on stage to break a pine plank of wood with their bare hands. Most of the audience were very impressed by this display of new found strength (except myself, this is an old trick used by magicians and showman), the close was if you sign up etc for £1500, you to can do this and be in control of your life. All you need to know in just five days and a certificate to prove it!
The country is now awash with amateur psychologists, spouting inexpert, shoddy and unprofessional psychobabble, some are doing irreparable harm, some have unknowingly harmed themselves, and some deserve what they get. What they don’t tell you is, once the students or delegates have completed their chosen course, hardly any practitioners go on to make any real money; the industry standard is that most struggle to make ends meet.
The majority are forced to seek alternative employment and all they receive for there hard earned money is a worthless certificate which is not recognized by any official body, and some interesting information that they could have gleamed from Google in a few hours for free.
The hard facts are that the only people who are making REAL money are the people running the courses, and this brings me on to what NLP really is about. There is a deluge of training courses around at the moment, NLP, EFT ,TFT, Reiki to name a few, which are all run as commercial enterprises.
But let’s not get carried away, back to NLP. “The NLP Trainer certificate is awarded for experience and superior knowledge (or is it second hand knowledge) in the use and application of NLP to the standards set out by Dr Richard Bandler (hmmm him again). There is more “Depending on your level of experience and ability, we may ask that you gain further experience or take additional society of NLP training before full certification is guaranteed.” Which really reads as, pay more money please. Well, what’s another couple of hundred quid?
After all I am certified.
The people/companies that run NLP courses have in turn received their right to do so by handing over yet more cash to Bandler & Associates, in return for yet more certification as the “official” NLP recognized trainers.
There is no outside regulation, no non- partial governing body and herein lies the problem, the bottom line is if you stump up the cash you get a certificate. Everything you are taught has no scientific legitimacy (before you start sending messages I have researched this extensively and can refer you to numerous scientific protocols and tests of NLP’s ineffectiveness) and is taken on trust.
They are just old techniques, ideas and models that are dressed up with gibberish psychobabble to sound new and cutting edge, which they are not.
Everything can be learned by doing a little digging into models of psychology, and suggestion. I have books in my library dating from the 18th/19th Century, which contains the basic methods and ideas.
The self improvement industry is growing at an alarming rate; the undoubted leader is self proclaimed guru Anthony Robbins, or Tony to his friends. Astonishingly people pay thousands and thousands of pounds believing they will receive some special or secret knowledge that will improve their miserable lives that only a few know about.So do we need NLP?
Is there anything new there that was not discovered Zion’s before? Or does it all boil down to the simple fact that as humans we lack self responsibility and need to be told what to do. Years ago when you were feeling sorry for yourself or anxious you were told to snap out of it and you did!
Nowadays we are promised NLP can produce the answer to all our problems, feeling negative, NLP can sort it out, lack motivation, NLP will make you buzz, and want to be wealthy, ahhh now we are getting to the reality.
NLP has made SOME people extremely wealthy, I’m talking here about Bandler, and Paul McKenna to name two, whose training company turns out newly qualified NLP practitioners at an alarming rate, I believe 50,000 to date, and other Gurus around the world have jumped onto the NLP gravy train.
But do we really need it?
In this age of the quick fix NLP is up at the top of the list, instant phobia cures, weight control, headaches, emotions you name it, it does it, and it really is a wonderful tool!
I have spent over twenty five years in personal development and read and learnt about every new technique going; EFT, TFT PMT, and do you know what I think? It’s all over hyped. NLP has a habit of using exotic language to describe very old ideas; it offers the newly qualified practitioner a way to practice pseudo-psychology without going to university. Attendees of courses never fail. NLP claims to help an almost limitless list of problems and even has its own language to baffle non NLP’s; here are a few examples;
Sub-modalities – means picturing yourself getting healthier, fitter, and more positive. If you think back to the 19th century didn’t the famous French therapist Emile Coue say; “Everyday in everyway I am getting better and better”.
The Meta Model – in NLP speak this means deletion, distortion and generalisation in our speech. As humans we often have difficulty vocalising our thoughts and what we say is often not what we mean due to the above. Meta Model terminology says be precise and clear in conversation to achieve a particular result. I always thought this was called having a two way conversation and listening to the others views and achieving a compromise, commonly called negotiation in business circles.
Perceptual Positions – follows on from the Meta model, simply put as my mum used to say “put yourself in their shoes and see from their point of view”.
Sensory Preferences – much has been made in NLP of body language and eye access clues. Its said you can spot if someone is a liar by the way his eyes point, Derren Brown is a master of this and claims he uses NLP in his TV show to read minds (trust me as an ex professional magician, he doesn’t’). People tend to look down when they are lying or don’t make eye contact, or their eyelids will flicker at the moment of the lie. Perhaps they were looking down because your fly button was undone, and they didn’t make eye contact because they could not stand the sight of you!
A question for you, If NLP is so miraculous why don’t the police use it when interviewing suspects? All they would have to do is look at the shifty eyes and body language and know for certain the suspect was guilty and jail him!
Freeing up police resources and saving the taxpayer at the same time. There are many more examples of this double speak, that for the sake of keeping this article relatively short I will ignore. The problem with our society is we want a quick fix, we don’t want to accept responsibility for the mistakes we make or of our screwed up lives and it’s easier to pay some one else to fix our problems. We have become so blind to reality that we really seem to have forgotten everything, even our past and who we are. We can’t see the truth because we choose to be blind to it very much like the emperor that has no clothes on.
NLP is a mish mash of tired, old ideas, thoughts and techniques that has been packaged, marketed and sold and we believe it.
All we have to do is look inwardly to ourselves for the answers, and if we choose to face up to our responsibilities and accept who we are and where we are because of the decisions we have made, and if we really want to change we can.