Using NLP for Better Communication

Kalliope Barlis 

NLP is the study and use of successful behavior. Although it started forty years ago with therapeutic purposes, NLP skills are used widely by Homeland Security, Fortune 500 companies, advertising, mothers and teachers. It's power has been tested through time. 

Some of its basic elements include rapport, challenging beliefs (with use of the Meta Model) to open up new useful choices, language patterns to influence others in a positive way (with use of the Milton Model), strategies and maintaining the right state of mind to do things in better ways. NLP also teaches the impact of certain words. 

Rapport is mirroring and matching another persons behavior for the purpose of establishing understanding thereby gaining their trust. While establishing rapport in subtle ways, you may facilitate more of what the person wants and create a positive sphere of influence. For example, a person may be very nervous and is breathing rapidly, shallowly. If we match their breath, then slow down our own, the person will naturally and unconsciously begin to follow the rhythm of our breath, thus relaxing. NLP makes use of skills for the benefit of humanity. Those who use it for other reasons are not in rapport with this fundamental tenet. 

When a person says "I can't",  we can challenge this self imposed belief by asking "what would happen if you could?" Suddenly, the listener's mind is creating representations of it having happened, already. And if then you say "Maybe it's just that you haven't ever done it and if you ask someone how to do it, do you think you can do it once you find out how it's done?" Suddenly, the possibility of doing something now becomes possible. The person switches their belief from I can't to I most certainly can when I know how. When skillfully used, The Meta Model, can open new possibilities for people when they thought there were none. It takes poverty consciousness and transforms it into a wealth of new and useful beliefs. The Meta Model gives us the right questions to ask to reveal the options already there for use. 

The same person who now can do it has a different mindset open to new powerful suggestions. New circuits in the brain have now wired. This is where we can say things like "imagine when you do this, many things in your life will change because now that you can see your self doing something you never thought you could but now you can, you'll find it easier to do and the more you do it the more pleasure you will gain from it so you keep exploring more of the things you thought weren't possible and start doing them now." By saying things this way, a person becomes motivated. The more and more pattern is a linguistic propulsion pattern. The more you feel good, the more you want to. Milton Model language patterns are useful when a useful belief is now set in place so that powerful suggestions can be made to make the change progressive from now into the future. 


Strategy includes how we process the world, not what. Where psychologists look for what's wrong in the content of experience, NLP works with how the person is operating their thoughts. When we know the process, we can change it. The person who says they can't is literally saying I can not. If they say "I can't see my self doing it" they are stating I can not see my self doing it.  So have them create in their mind, seeing themselves doing a useful behavior. Size and distance of the thoughts created within the mind are relevant. When the size is life size or bigger than life and the distance within your mental space close up the more you will be able to see it. Often times, we may hear our own voice or those of others inside our minds to influence our behavior. Make sure the self talk is as if your best friend is talking to you. If someone says something nasty to you, would you be their friend? Does your own self talk deserve this distinction? Be your best friend while talking to your self. Likewise, with this in mind, speak to others as you would your self. 

When you have lovely pictures in your mind and the make supportive powerful statements to your self, you feel good. Think about it. If you had two choices to buy pictures and decorate your home, would you buy photos of world catastrophes or of the seven wonders of the world? NLP teaches the structure of thought so that you recognize when it's necessary to bring up the right thoughts at the right time so you maintain alignment with all that is important at any given moment in time. The way you think changes how you feel which changes how you do things and communicate in better ways. 

When I say, don't think of a red frog, what happens? You think of a red frog even though I said don’t because it hears what follows the word don’t. Eliminating the word don’t in some situations can save relationships. When a spouse says to another, “don’t forget your keys, the spouse listening will most likely forget their keys. Instead, when you say remember your keys that’s exactly what will happen. Stating what you do want is more often valuable than stating what you don’t want. Except when you want your child to take a shower when they don't like doing what you tell them to do, telling them “don’t take a shower” will more often inspire them to take one because it was their decision to do so. Using the word don’t in appropriate times can increase the waves of communication in so many ways.

None of these skills can be put to use when you don't listen to what people say and observe what they do. The more you become aware of people's body language and the more you listen to what they say, the more you can communicate effectively with others and your self. Awareness can be learned at any age.