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Some of the presuppositions of NLP.

These are a set of beliefs that ethical and professional NLP practitioners should install into themselves to facilitate excellent communication and assist in helping people to make positive changes. In different circles of NLP these are sometimes worded differently and they vary in number. I have chosen here only a select few examples and included my own definitions.

  • Everyone has a unique model of the world. Respect other peoples model of the world. You might love eating tinned tuna. Personally I dislike it. That doesn’t mean that tuna either is or isn’t disgusting, simply that we have different interpretations about what it means to us. You might believe that every time you sneeze you turn off a light somewhere in the world. I personally hold a very different belief to that, however in my estimation you are no less of a wonderful or unique human being because of how you experience your world.
  • People are not their behaviour.  We are not our ‘maddest edges’ our ‘biggest mistakes’ or our ‘constant failings’. You may have knocked over your glass of drink, but that doesn’t make you ‘just a clumsy person’ does it? Every label we attach to ourselves is a judgement based on a tiny percentage of our past behaviours or what other people have told us. Whatever we conceive ourselves to be we are astronomically more than that. I will not hold you in a permanent judgement by what it is you have done, or what you are doing right now.
  • All behaviour has a positive intention. No matter how embarrassing, painful or destructive your memories of your past actions were, they happened because you were trying to achieve a positive outcome. It may happen that the outcome didn’t yield the desired results and this may have been fairly likely or completely unexpected to you, either way your action at the time was done with a positive intention. Your behaviour may have caused painful memories, it may have even had some large consequences for which you may in part be accountable for. However you are not your behaviour.
  • There are no unresourceful people only unresourceful states.  You may sometimes get yourself into some kind of mood that isn’t helpful for you or those around you. Maybe you hide for a day or so, perhaps you have bursts of sarcasm or rage, perhaps you become a little too enthusiastic. These actions are not all of who you are. They are simply emotional states that you can change easily once you know how.
  • There is no failure only feedback. To paraphrase the athlete Michael Jordan “I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed” or Michael Caine in Batman “Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves back up”. Our purpose in life isn’t to become perfect, it’s to become progressively less stupid.
  • The law of requisite variety “The person with the most behavioural flexibility has the most influence on the system.” Imagine how limiting it would be if you could only enjoy a walk if it was autumn and the trees were a certain shade of orange, the wind wasn’t blowing, and if it was in a specific woods, two hours drive from you, and there had to be no one else in the woods for you to see. Now imagine if you could enjoy any time you walked anywhere, even if it’s from your car to your place of work, because you could see the beauty of the sky, find a new sign of nature, discover a delicious smell, and feel the feeling of the spring you chose to put in your step. The more ways we find to limit ourselves the fewer ways we have to enjoy everyday experiences. Give yourself as many ways as possible to enjoy or at least be ‘okay’ with as many variables as you can in your life and you will have the largest amount of flexibility and influence over your options.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

NVC is a philosophy as well as a language structure that has the belief that everyone is capable of, and can communicate in a way that  “makes life more wonderful” This means that there is no need for the language of blame, judgement or domination or to have power over anyone. Although much of the premise to NVC is very simple, it is initially very challenging to conceive of because we live in a world where communicating in this way can seem highly improbable. Personally I think it is very worthwhile to take the time to study it.

I have been following, studying and using NVC as best as I can in every aspect of my life since 2013. It is worth noting that I am not a trainer or teacher of NVC, merely a fond pupil. More information can be found on the CNVC Website Here are some of the philosophies I try to embrace at all times.

  • All people are trying to say is “Please” and “Thank You”. Deep down, beneath all that we are trying to communicate we are either seeking a request to meet our needs or expressing gratitude. As effective communicators we need to employ sufficient empathy, suspend judgements, and have enough observational power and language power to listen to their needs, and recognise our own.
  • Don’t do anything that isn’t play. The founder of NVC would joke that all requests could be preceded with a little statement reading “Please do as I request only if you can do so with the joy of a little child feeding a hungry duck.” This means we have to become used to sharing our needs with people in a way that would demonstrate how their actions would be as a gift to us.  It also means that if we are to fully respect that person we would have to be okay with hearing the word ‘no’ if they are unable to meet our request willingly. It is through this spirit that people make and carry out requests happily and willingly and only in a way that “Makes life more wonderful”

My Personal Code of Conduct

Below are a few excerpts from my own personal code of conduct, which is a living document that serves as a daily reminder to help me to live my days to the absolute fullest. What would be on your list?

  • Be courageous, plant my feet and stand up straight
  • Treat my body as a temple of health and vitality
  • Treat every living thing with kindness and compassion
  • Speak less, listen more. All communication is a gift
  • Do everything it takes to break out of an unresourceful state and step into a highly resourceful one
  • The only things I can control are my thoughts and actions
  • “Become the change I seek in the world”