Monday, 31 December 2007

Is NLP a load of rubbish?

A question that seems to be asked but never really answered. Ask anyone who practices NLP and the answer is obviously "it's really powerful stuff". I would guess I would say the same as I am writing a blog on NLP. Nothing is that black and white, good or bad. I would say that some NLP is a load of rubbish, because it makes claims it simply can not justify. To get to this point let us start at the beginning.

At the basics of NLP we have very simple communication skills. How to build rapport and how to make yourself understood and how to influence others. Body language skills, filters, mirroring, meta model of language, sleight of mouth patterns etc. This all good stuff and it definitely works. However, I think some people believe it will turn them in a Jedi Master and be able to convince anybody of anything. This is definitely not true, from my experience it is a bit like the Jedi mind trick as it won't work on the strong minded/stubborn. Some people just refuse point blank to change their minds or allow another opinion to take hold. Just like some people can't be hypnotised. The problem isn't with NLP but with peoples expectations of the skills and abilities it will give them. They see people who are master of NLP, like Darren Brown, creating magic with words. They hear of the works of the founders of NLP, Bandler and Grindler, and are amazed at the work they have done in therapy with people. They want to be able to the same kind of stuff. The people who perform these almost magically events with NLP, work at it full time, they have been studying it for many years and have years of experience. You can achieve this level of NLP, but you will need the same level of commitment and it will take years to truly master. The best most of can hope for is an improved set of communication skills to help us for our everyday lives.

So back to the question,"is NLP a load of rubbish". The answer is no, but people are expecting too much from it in a relative short space of time. Why? I believe it is because there are so many people out there selling NLP course with exaggerated claims. The NLP industry isn't regulated and has seem to attracted a lot of con men/women. I could set up a new NLP academy tomorrow and call it UNLP (Ultimate NLP) I could then certify myself as a master trainer in UNLP and start running courses out of my church hall for £1000 a day per person. I could just rehash all the existing NLP material and throw in some other material on influence, like the 6 laws of influence. Throw in a bit of extra psychology, mix it up and try and make it look slightly different to all the other NLP courses doing the rounds. There is nothing to stop me doing any of this, it is not illegal but very immoral.

So if you want to do a NLP course I could suggest you first of all get a few books on the subject as these courses are usually pretty expensive. Learn the basics and try it out. You my find the basics communication skills are enough for you. If you want to carry on look into the courses very carefully, try and find one carried out by a reputable trainer preferable some can traces their NLP back to the founders.

Sunday, 30 December 2007


Another of the 6 laws of influence. This one is the obvious one, if you like someone you are more likely to be influence by that person. NLP really comes to work here by using NLP to quickly build rapport with a person and thus getting them to like you.

Whenever you get door to door slaes med they often refer to you as mate or buddy even although you have just met as they are trying to make out you are some how friend already.

Tupperware parties and the like are great examples of how Liking law is used to sell products. You have a party and invite all your friends around and sell them stuff. As they are your friends and like you they are more easily influenced into purchasing the product from you. Or may be buying as to feel they are helping you out. Works especially well if a couple of people in the party buy items earlier on, as it will use the effect of social proof in combination with the liking law of influence.

This should be an easily one for all you NLP 'ers to use an also seen before can be combined with the other laws of influence in the right circumstances.

Social Proof

You will see examples of the use of social proof every day. Before we start with the discussion I will name some examples to wet your appetite.

A busker places in some money into their hat to give the impression others have already tipped him.

The advertisers tell us it that it is the fast selling and most popular product in the market.

The door to door sales man who tell you that your neighbors have all bought the product.

Some night clubs purposefully create long queues outside their night club in order to make it look popular and give the social proof to potential customers. Even when there may be plenty of space inside.

There are also some negative responses to social proof as well. There have been case where victims of violent crime have been ignored in the street. Why? because no one else is stopping so I won't either. Experiments have shown if one person stops then more people we also stop, as they have the proof of others it is the right thing to do.

So why does this law work. Basically we have learnt through experience we are less likely to make mistakes if we follow other people. In fact kids learn to do things by mimicry. So social proof is essentially mimicry on a more adult level. We have learnt the right thing to do by following the crowd and have seen that not following the crowd can be dangerous.

In the case of the injured victim, if no one else is helping him then may be the know something I don't about this situation. Surely if they did need help some one else would have stopped by now. Not if we all thought the same thing!! There is an assumption with social proof that other people know best so the right thing to do is follow them.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Commitment and Consistency

This is the second law of influence and another one you see every day but just don't realise it.
The idea behind this law is that every one tries to be consistent and keeps to their commitments.

The best example is the one from the book about Christmas presents. Nearly every year there is a must have child's Christmas present and nearly every year they run out of stock before Christmas. So you promise you buy them this X present, but it turns out you can't get in time and thus have to buy them something with the promise you will get them the other X present after Christmas when there is more stock. And there always seems to be loads more stock after Christmas! To keep your commitment to your child you you buy them a SECOND present after Christmas. It is well believed that this type of event is done on purpose by the toy manufacturers. You probably find where the X present is suppose to be, but sold out, are toys sold by the said manufacturer. They basically get to sell two presents to you at this time of year in order for you to appear to keep your commitment and appear consistent to your child.

There are also other laws of influence being used here on your child, social proof as every one wants one and scarcity, they are limited amounts available, thus having one for Christmas will make them special.

Same thing is done with surveys. You sign a survey or petition to say you are against 'Animal Cruelty' then when they later contact you to ask for money in order to prevent cruelty how can you say no without appearing inconsistent, and without backing out of the commitment you made on the survey. There is proof that if you get someone to write down their commitment they are more likely to keep to that commitment!! Powerful stuff!!