Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a broad personal development system that studies the way we view the world. Just like a map that provides important information about the world, NLP strives to improve the “mental maps” that we use to experience the world. The different ways that NLP aims to achieve this goal are called “patterns.” There are many different NLP patterns that aim to improve subjective experience. An NLP coach or practitioner would use many of these patterns in their consultations with you if you were to seek NLP training or assistance. However, you don’t necessarily need the guidance of an NLP coach to understand and adopt these patterns in your own life. What follows are a handful of the most important NLP patterns.
The best way to think of NLP patterns are as tools. Without the proper implementation, they don’t do anything. A shovel that just lies on the ground doesn’t do anything. But once you pick it up and begin using it in accordance with it’s design, you can start digging. These NLP patterns don’t do anything on their own — they require that you implement them to see change.
1. Backtracking: Backtracking is a pattern you use during conversation with someone (especially during negotiation). Backtracking means repeating back what somebody just said using their own words. You would also try to use their tone of voice and gestures. It takes subtlety to do correctly, because if a person realizes what you’re doing it will lose its effectiveness.
2. Association/Disassociation: NLP places a lot of emphasis on the power of visualization. There are two ways to look at memories and the way you visualize them. One way is to view a memory or emotional state from the inside (association) or as an external observer (disassociation). Viewing positive memories in an associative state helps anchor them to your mind while separating yourself from negative states (disassociation) helps you put them behind you.
3. Accessing Cues: Our bodily movements portray more information than we often think. NLP practitioners can learn how to interpret the involuntary bodily cues that we all exhibit. For example, eye movement to the right or left tends to indicate that someone is seeing something in their mind. By identifying access cues someone who is well versed in NLP can then match the person they are talking with, thus building rapport very quickly.
4. Meta Model: The Meta Model uses very specific questions and language to determine what is often being left unsaid. Most of us communicate about the world in a much different, and less detailed way, than we think about it. Using the Meta Model can help figure out what exactly we are saying when we talking in generalities.
5. Milton Model: The Milton Model is essentially the opposite of the Meta Model. Instead of using specific questions to unlock the details of vagaries, it uses deliberately vague language to allow the person to interpret the conversation in a way that means something to them personally. Using specific language can remove possibilities of experience for somebody so the Milton Model strives to allow the listener the greatest number of ways to make what is being said personal.
Other NLP patterns that attack very different parts of human experience are TOTE, Parts Integration, Six Step Reframes, Simple Reframes, Metaphor, Anchors and Chunking. Each of these are used in different ways for different goals just like how the average tool shed has a panoply of tools that all serve different purposes. You can try using these tools on your own to figure out how they are more effectively used or you can hire someone with experience, an NLP coach, to show you how these tools can improve your own life.