By Ritu Khanna
Goal-setting and achieving are essential in neuro-linguistic programming, a system that helps translate our dreams and desires into reality
Let’s start with what neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is not. It is not a buzzword. It is not, its practitioners solemnly aver, a passing trend. It will not bring you riches and fame overnight. Nor will it get rid of that bald patch on your head. It will, however, help you get in touch with reality, to become motivated, to think, to learn, and, if required, to change. It allows you to take control of your feelings and gives you choices. It also helps you cope with failure—in fact, there is no word as failure in the NLP lexicon; use feedback or a lower level of achievement instead. Defined as the art and science of personal excellence, NLP encourages you, in a sense, to go for the best dreams.
Though India has been slow to turn the NLP way, signs of its growing popularity are visible. Workshops using and teaching NLP skills, though few and far between, are being organized; NLP techniques are used, often unwittingly, in diverse fields such as sales and training.
Simply put, NLP connects our words, thoughts and behavior to our goals. Neuro refers to the thinking process; linguistic is language, how we use it, and how we are influenced by it; programming is our behavioral pattern and the goals we set. Knowing what you want and finding the means to get it are an important part of NLP. One way of achieving this is by setting specific goals. Make a list—a realistic one, though. Be sure to use positive language; avoid words such as do not, miss, fail. Your goals should fall into five categories: doing, getting and having, knowing, relating, being. Ask ‘what then’ questions, get ready to take action, keep your senses on alert and learn to notice the results of what you do. Be prepared to change your behavior till you get what you want.
NLP can also help change a certain mindset. Take the example of Fali Kumana, who attended an NLP workshop in Mumbai, western India. Kumana was one of the ’15-16 participants, a motley crowd—some quite young, others very old’. Says Kumana: ‘I got something very valuable from the workshop.’
He goes on to narrate an incident that took place over 60 years ago. It was on the cricket fields in Pune, western India, when Kumana outshone a player who was not only older to Kumana, but also ‘bigger and more solid’. Kumana’s victory displeased this player so much that he cornered him after the game and bashed him up. This incident left the young Kumana feeling incapable of coping with winning: ‘I used to win, but I never really enjoyed it.’
After the NLP workshop, Kumana has this to say: ‘Now winning is no longer a painful experience.’ As Kumana discovered, NLP has tremendous potential, depending on how you look at it. In his case, it helped remove an old psychological complex.
NLP is a comparatively new system. It was founded in the 1970s by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. Grinder was then as associate professor of linguistics at the University of California and Bandler, a mathematician and gestalt therapist. The two brought their areas of interest—mind, language, and behavior—to their creation. They used the ideas of three well—known psychotherapists, Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson, to identify a certain pattern that they then modified. They were also influenced by British anthropologist Gregory Bateson, who has described NLP as the first systematic approach towards learning to learn. In a sense, NLP is the positive thinking approach turned scientific.
The model built by Grinder and Bandler deals with the way we filter, through our five senses our experiences and how we use these inner senses to get what we want. We are always in some physiological state and that state affects our behavior. NLP has many skills, techniques and exercises, each serving to alter our state, thus allowing us to take control of our feelings. Indian personal growth facilitator Khursheed Merchant believes that NLP helps move one’s state instantly for ‘creative and effective action’.
NLP is increasingly being applied in personal development, counseling, education and business. Swami Sukhabodhananda, a spiritual personal growth trainer in Bangalore, southern India, uses NLP practices. Hailed as a corporate guru, the Swami periodically organizes programs to help busy executives cope with the state, both physically and psychologically, by changing self-talk (inner dialogue) and through a change of language—from a negative one to one with positive undertones.
In this age of info-tech, there is now available what we could call state-of-the-heart software that helps develop mental technologies. However, in spite of the proliferation of NLP-related media, and the fact that it is largely do-it-yourself, the system is usually used and taught in a group setting. ‘Its results are very quick,’ explains Surinder Paul, a personal growth trainer in New Delhi, India, who organizes motivational programs that, though not pure NLP, are NLP-based.
As with all new systems, a whole new vocabulary has come up around NLP. Here are some of the words used to describe NLP skills:
The process of forming an association between one thing and another. Anything that reminds us of something, which triggers off a physiological response, can be called an anchor. It can be based on any of the five senses, but the visual, auditory and kinesthetic (feeling) are best used for the NLP approach. The anchor helps bring about some positive associated image, thereby changing a person’s attitude. An auditory anchor, for example, could be a word that best fits the state you desire, such as confidence, or calmness.
Any subject can be viewed in larger or smaller parts or chunks. By adding new associations, chinking lets you see the matter differently. Chunking up puts the issue in perspective, chunking down gives it a new, narrower focus. Top business negotiators use this NLP technique, probably unwittingly, to find a common ground and thereby close the deal in a manner satisfactory to both sides.
You can create a better sense of rapport by mirroring the body language of the person with whom you are trying to communicate. This is a skill used by expert communicators. A salesperson would use this technique to make his client appear more receptive.
Modeling: NLP is against reinventing the wheel. Instead, it teaches you copying, or modeling, human excellence. Skills, abilities and even so-called thinking strategies can be transferred from one person to another.
Pacing and leading:
By gradually making the other person unconsciously mirror you, pacing and leading help in better communication. Future pacing is mentally rehearsing new skills, knowledge or attitudes in an imaginary future where they will be needed.
The context or frame of any event can be changed to get another meaning. This process is called reframing and helps you become aware of alternatives. You can reframe your over two-hour-long daily commuting time by spending it profitably, say, learning a new language.
The NLP skills briefly introduced here can easily lead you to what NLP really is-an approach that gets you whatever you want. Do not, however, expect it to help grow a luxuriant crop of hair on that bald patch!
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