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Thoughts From My Weekend Spent On An NLP Training Course

This weekend just gone I joined around 70 others to attend an Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) training course in London.

If you’re curious about NLP then I hope this post will shed some light on the subject so you can make a better decision on whether it is worth pursuing for yourself.

Also, I should state the obvious here which is that I’ve only gone on a 2 day workshop and this post is purely here to pass on a few things I learned. It’s purely my take and nothing more!

What actually is NLP?

If I’m asked this question by a friend here’s what I’d say:

“NLP is a collection of tools and techniques which allows you, or help others to, change thoughts, feelings, behaviour and ultimately outcomes.”

Like any definitely this only scratches the surface so another way to think of NLP is that it is like having a user manual for your brain.

And who wouldn’t buy one of those if they were for sale in the local bookshop?!

Can you “NLP people” to get them to do whatever you want!?

No, fortunately, you can’t!

For me this is one of the big myths about NLP, that a lot of people imagine that it’s all about influencing others to get what you want.

In other words NLP has the reputation of being all about manipulation.

But actually it starts with yourself, not others and indeed this is one of the big takeaways for me from the seminar.

A way of thinking about this is that there are various “software programs” running in your brain. For example, we all software programs which control things like:

  • Our punctuality
  • Our priorities
  • Out eating and drinking

Left alone these software programs kind of write themselves and are influenced by years of real life experiences.

But because these experiences are all different (e.g., good, bad, common, rare, etc) it means that the software scripts running in our brain are not as good as they could be.

For example, some people are consistently late for appointments, make bad choices about what to prioritise (a big one in online business!) and eat/drink too much or the wrong type of foods.

So learning NLP helps you discover what is happening already in the various departments of your brain, understand them and then change them for the better.

So you end up with a better brain which makes better decisions and helps you more easily achieve the things you want to achieve in life.

What about others?

NLP isn’t just about yourself though. Our ability to get the things we want in life is hugely dependent upon how abilities to interact with others.

And NLP helps a lot with this.

If you think about people you’ve worked with over the years, some do well and get promoted, others seem constantly stressed and end up getting fired or stuck in a rut.

Now sure, how smart a person is is important but really if you think about it, so much of it is to do with how these people conduct themselves in relation to others either consciously or unconsciously.

I know I can personally think of so many examples of this from past years spent working in numerous different jobs.

NLP comes into play by introducing techniques such as reframing, presupposition, pattern interrupts and many more.

Some of these can just make the whole experience better, faster and more productive for you and the person you are communicating with.

Taken to an extreme and used in an unethical way there is no doubt these techniques can be used to significantly influence people. And this of course, is where NLP gets it reputation from in terms of manipulation!

Ethically speaking I would say that it’s really like so many other things that are powerful, they can be used for good or for bad.

Should you study it?

I would definitely recommend buying a book or, as I did, going on an introductory NLP course.

It certainly is very powerful and although many will be sceptical my experience over the 2 days was that it is possible to make some pretty simple changes for pretty significant life benefits.

We spend so much time, energy and money on other things but how much actually on improving the inners workings of our brains?

That’s worth thinking about I’d say…

As I mentioned, this is all just my take! Unless you are already an NLP expert then I hope this helped shed some light on a subject that is become increasingly popular and widespread. Would love to hear your thoughts below… :-)

{ 34 comments… add one }

  • Pearson Brown

    We used to encourage our teachers to use mirroring techniques in one-to-one lessons. Nothing to do with manipulation, just a way of getting on the same wavelength as the student.

    • Rob

      Hi Pearson, Makes sense. I think a lot of the techniques are actually widely practiced anyway whether they are labelled with NLP or not. Cheers, Rob

  • I’m glad you have taken your curiosity to the next level, Rob.

    I use NLP with my clients because it is an effective way to help them deal more consciously with current thoughts and happenings instead of simply reacting emotionally because of their past conditioning.

    And, as you say, once we know how to change the way we view the things that occur in our lives, we can then use that knowledge to develop a healthier and a more effective way of living.

    The next logical step would be to use these skills to communicate more effectively with family, friends and clients.
    .. and help them to see our points of view
    .. and, of course, to help our clients to understand the advantages of buying more stuff from us (only joking – I just couldn’t resist that)

    • Rob

      Thank you for your input Dave, Great to get your input :-) Cheers, Rob

  • Hi Rob,

    I have been studying Nlp for few years now and I am currently training to be a certified practitioner. NLP bypasses the diffrent protections that the brain generates to protect its self from a painful memory or habit, this can be used to help several conditions and phobias. I have to stress you can not mind control someone , it is an amazing tool to help yourself or anyone get over the hurdles of their past and present for them to live a happier life. NLP is far to vast to talk about on here but it is amazing and worth investigating further. I am also a big fan of EFT , Emotional Freedom Technique that utiliser tapping on speciifc points of the body to releive bloqued energies linked to an emotion or memory or painful incident.
    Hope this helps…
    Cheers

    Reda

    • Rob

      Yes Reda, thanks for your helpful input. Never heard of EFT before! Cheers, Rob

  • Peter

    NLP is a complete pile of ******* and anyone falling for its spurious content and claims seriously needs their head testing. I too once attended a NLP event hosted by Paul McKenna and 2 more of the most pathetic speakers I’ve ever seen and heard. The event was hopelessly over-priced and intellectually bankrupt. I deliver training courses and attended the event with 3 specific objectives in mind:

    1) Is there anything useful in NLP? – NO!!
    2) Could I deliver events of this type? – Yes, but only if I had a personal morality bypass operation.
    3) Were these presenters any better than me? – McKenna is a good presenter, the other 2 were worse than bloody awful.

    The event was delivered over 4 days I think to an audience of about 500, each of whom paid a minimum of £850!!! Do the arithmetic for yourself! Most of the attendees were there purely because McKenna is a well known television personality. The “content” stank.

    I’d be really disappointed to hear that you found this NLP hogwash to have anything credible about it Rob.

    Pete

    • It sounds as if you have had a bad experience somewhere, Peter and haven’t been able to deal with it yet.
      Maybe I could suggest seeing someone qualified in NLP

    • Rob

      Hi Pete, Thank for sharing your experience – it’s always good when we get a variety of views. I think we can safely say between us we went to 2 very different events! Cheers, Rob

  • Jennifer

    Hi Rob, I am pleased that you gained such a deep insight into NLP on your introductory weekend and enjoyed the session so much. Your ‘take’ is extremely mature, if I may say so, without wishing to be patronising!

    As an NLP practitioner, I have been using many of the tools and techniques for over 20 years now and find them to be invaluable. However, I would say that the most important thing to take away from the introduction is that this is what they are – tools and techniques. NLP is practised almost as a religion by some people I know and clearly this is of grave concern. They have convinced themselves, and attempt to convince others, that its ALL ‘gospel’ and must be ‘obeyed’!

    My advice would be to use the tools which feel ‘right’ to you and leave the ones that don’t feel right in your toolbox!

    Your remarks about a minority of people believing NLP to be manipulative made me smile. Clients of mine recently held a one-day session for all of their staff and a small minority refused to attend describing it as being linked to witchcraft!!!

    • Rob

      Hi Jennifer, That seems very good advice about the toolbox. There’s definitely techniques that I could see immediately that would be useful in everyday practical situations. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Cheers, Rob

  • Colin

    Let me make you smile more, Jefnnifer, or perhaps grimace.

    Smells of Scientology

    Why on earth you have to invent yet another “industry” to get people to get their priorities sorted, I do not know.
    There is enough commonsense stuff that has been around for years about doing that.
    And, of course, Mr Wilkes wasn’t joking ………………….

    Colin B

    Colin B

    • Rob

      Great to get your views Colin. It also seemed to me that most of the techniques in NLP ave been around for years, well before NLP was invented in the 1970s. So in a way I can see your point here. Of course, the industry has grown because it’s profitable just like an othe industry. Personally, I have no problem with this. My only focus and interest is really purely on can it help me? I think it really can whether we think of the techniques as within NLP or just common sense ones that have nothing to do with NLP. Cheers, Rob

  • Colin

    Jennifer – forgive me, I spelt your name incorrectly. An unintended but all the same disrespectful error for whioch I apologise.

    • Jennifer

      No worries about spelling my name correctly Colin! Perhaps my comment about NLP being treated as a religion must have resonated with you if you think it ‘smells of scientology’. Personally, I wouldn’t go that far but I can see where you are coming from.

  • I like it that someone as clever and analytical as you has an open mind Rob so I was interestest to hear your thoughts. I don’t believe in NLP or EFT and I can’t be hypnotised apparently – and let me tell you that’s not through want of trying (to cure a phobia mainly). Tried many different practitioners and I once “tapped” for a good 2 hours with a guy who was working with middle east war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PST) and supposedly getting a good result. The power of placebo is still in full effect, I think. For some reason when thinking of most of the “NLP Master Pracs” I know (as they like to call themselves) I was reminded of that Spitting Image sketch with that catchy song “I’ve Never Met A Nice South African” http://youtu.be/AZjwCmJrnlY ? While I’ve met many nice South Africans, I’ve rarely met an NLP Practitioner who didn’t make me feel a bit squeamish OR more importantly who seemed to be able to make positive changes financially or business-wise from the “power” of NLP. Apart from the one’s on stage of course, but hey! aren’t they selling something?

    • Rob

      Thanks for your thoughts Nicola – this is proving controversial and great to get your thoughts :-) Cheers, Rob

    • Jennifer

      Gosh Nicola you aren’t a fan are you?! I would first like to say that NLP and EFT are very different disciplines. As I said originally, some NLP tools and techniques work for me while EFT hasn’t done, so far. However, I respect the experiences of people that have benefited from it.

      Nicola, I am aware of your work and respect what you have achieved but I also respect what many NLP practitioners I know have achieved. Not sure what your comment about ‘aren’t they selling something …’ means – isn’t that what you do, isn’t that what I do, isn’t that what we all do? We all sell our services, expertise, products whatever and as long as we do it ethically, where is the problem with that?

    • Well, Nicola I am a certified trainer of NLP (trumps master prac!) so I hope I don’t make you too squeamish.
      NLP helped me save my sanity. It taught me how to notice and take control of my thought patterns, and enabled me to get out of clinical depression without any help from the pharmaceutical industry. So I am a fan. Would other things have worked – probably, possibly, but NLP was quicker? I’d tried a few other approaches and they didn’t work for me. NLP empowered me so that I wasn’t dependant on someone else to keep sorting me out. There’s a saying, you come into the world with this amazing piece of equipment (your brain) but no user manual. NLP provides a user manual.

      NLP is a scavenger. You’ll find stuff in there from Cognitive psychology, linguistics, gestalt therapy, hypnosis, etcetcetc. It’s just a way of putting all this stuff together. It should be user-friendly, but some of the material is hard work if it’s not taught well.

      When I was running trainings in NLP, I literally saw people transform before my eyes. Particularly in terms of confidence, taking control of their own lives, communicating more effecitvely, taking responsibility, and stopping whingeing (now that really is a result). I’ve used it with aspirant delinquent teenagers who know they are adrift, but don’t know how to get back on track. Some it helped, some it didn’t.

      It isn’t a magic pill – anyone who believes that is likely to be disappointed. It IS an excellent set of techniques, and tools for communication with self and others, which CAN be life transforming, or can just be really useful.

      And attending a hypnosis talk for hypnotherapists on how to get rid of cysts and warts in others using hypnosis – I got home to discover a cyst on my face had vanished! Now that was remarkable.

      I’m all for placebo – if it gets the result, who cares? As Internet Marketers we’re always going on about how we sell results…I think people get too tangled up in the process, and loose sight of the outcome.

      EFT/tapping doesn’t work for me either. Horses for courses, I reckon.

      • Rob

        Hi Jane, Excellent thoughts there – thanks for taking the time to share them :-) Cheers, Rob.

      • Hahahaha Jane, no you certainly don’t and I had no idea – I associate you with loads of positive things but the NLP thing had passed me by. I just wish that the NLP pracs I meet didn’t bang on about it so much as if it were the be-all and end-all for everything (not you obv.).

  • Sha

    Hi Rob,

    NLP is very interesting- I was not a fan of it for a long time, due to the association with NLP manipulating people. I then met a lovely NLP teacher, who had helped many people get over various fears and phobias and help with other positive life changes. I trained to become an NLP practitioner with her a few years ago and I am pleased I did, as it was interesting, and I do use the tools I learned. However, these are tools and it is up to you how you use them and how often. I certainly don’t use NLP or any modality religiously – use what works for you and if you find something that works better, great.

    Prior to NLP, I learnt Emotional Freedom Technique (like acupuncture, but without needles) and this is brilliant at changing states too. This is a very simple but effective technique and again can have life changing results.

    I am now learning Access Bars Consciousness, which to me is like NLP and EFT all in one, but much much quicker and more effective.

    In terms of internet marketing – mind set is everything and any of the above tools can help with this.

    Sha :)

    • Rob

      Good to hear your take Sha – thanks for sharing! Cheers, Rob

  • Regarding NLP I used one of there tapes on weightloss and miracleously it worked and just like that if you are somehow influenced differently and chose to believe it ,it can stop working . Its a brain exercise that subconscious or conscious which ever you choose will ultimately provide your core beliefs. Initialley it worked and then it did not. Who knows maybe constant using may produce different results. I used self hypnosis tapes, maybe I will try again.

  • Rob,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with NLP. As with so many other bits of information you share here, it is quite interesting…and certainly causes much buzz.

    I’m a life-long learner…and am always in search of information, tools, techniques and tips which might enhance my personal and professional development. Over many years, I’ve experienced a few such offerings. Some I’ve embraced and some I’ve quickly discarded for one reason or another. I’ve found there is no “one fit for all.” I’m always suspicious of “One size fits all.”

    NLP is one of those tools which I have kept. Certain aspects of it have enhanced my life and the lives of many of my coaching clients. From my perspective, the general point of it is nothing new. we’ve been trying different ways for enhancing communication, gaining rapport and moving through change with ease, etc for centuries. Every now and then new bells and whistles are added…and we call it something different. But it is always the same: we want to get along with others and we want our lives to be better.

    I view NLP as just another great tool to have in my tool belt. It works for some, it’s distasteful to others. I think I’ll keep it. That’s just MY point of view. Thank you for sharing your view. Everyone needs to uncover what’s best for them.

    I Love the blog…love GHG!

    Barbara

    • Rob

      Brilliant comment Barbara! :-) I couldn’t agree more with..

      I’ve found there is no “one fit for all.” I’m always suspicious of “One size fits all.”

      Absolutely right. It always fun exploring new things and making your own mind up. I definitely feel it has considerable value but I also respect those either side of me who love it or hate it – judging by the comments above it certainly appears to be a divisive topic this one!

      Cheers,

      Rob

  • Mike Hardy

    Hi Rob

    It is always good to learn new stuff and techniques that may help to get life better organised, more awake and responsive. Best of all, it is time way and meeting new folk to improve your networking skills. You may come away with new contacts and possible leads.

    My weekend away is at the local Buddhist centre where peace and tranquility reign. I always come away reinvigorated and focused on whatever task is to hand. Generally this is all about meditation and how best to improve the techniques. Good stuff!!

    Best Wishes – Mike

    • Rob

      Always great to get your thoughts Mike and very interesting to hear about the Buddhist stuff in particular. Cheers, Rob

  • Hey Rob,

    Interesting to hear your perspective on attending that training course. As you know, music is what I do now but I also studied Linguistics at university, and I remember then what an impression learning about the brain’s language structures can have on your view of the world and humanity! One of Noam Chomsky’s famous theories in linguistics was that the brain is pre-disposed to language-learning. According to that theory (as I remember), humans don’t just pick up language because they are very clever, but because the structures are already there, waiting for the linguistic data to “be inputed”, as it were.

    It’s clear that language completely dominates human behaviour, we need it for almost everything we do, and our classification and perception of the world around us is usually done through language. We make a decision in our mind for example, if a block of wood with wooden legs is a “table” or a “chair”, depending on quite complex variables.

    Having briefly looked at NLP, they talk about the crucial age limits, between 0-7, 7-14, 14-21. The 7-year old thing is an established concept in psycho-linguistics (probably backed up with lots of research) that a child can learn and speak a language up to native level if they are properly exposed to it before that age. After the age of 7, they can probably learn and speak well, but there’s so much data in the brain and their interests and motivations start changing, so they are likely to reproduce the new language with an accent.

    So understanding how these language functions work in the brain would seem to be advantageous, both for improving your own communication with others and also, as many have mentioned, to influence others! Linguistic sub-categories include Syntax (structure), Phonetics (sound), Semantics (meaning), Socio-linguistics and Psycho-linguistics. I’m sure all of these disciplines could be usefully used for the above-mentioned desires and intentions!

    • Rob

      Hi Jules, That’s a very deep and thoughtful comment – thank you for taking the time to put it together and share! Cheers, Rob.

    • Jennifer

      Jules, what an excellent and very thoughtful piece, thank you for that.

      Following on from our NLP debate, did anyone see the way in which NLP was virtually blamed in the media for the accusations of sex abuse made by a young girl resulting in the recent trial and acquittal of a high profile TV personality? NLP was described as ‘virtually discredited pseudo science’ … virtually discredited by whom? Even if one does not find NLP to be a
      useful tool, this is a scandalous ‘assassination’ of well established and tested practice, in my opinion.

  • Barry

    I’ve read about NLP and one of my friends took a course in it.

    I think there is a lot of useful knowledge in it. The only thing that put me off taking the course was the hypnosis bit. I like to be in control of my actions and this part just didn’t appeal to me.

    We are all different and some things work better for some than others. Being able to choose is what makes us human I guess.

    Best wishes
    Barry

  • Jennifer

    Hi Barry

    You are quite correct, NLP has some very useful tools and techniques. However, I wonder why you say the ‘hypnosis bit worries you because you like to be in control of your own actions’? Why would you believe that being in a hypnotic state would not allow you to be in control? Is it possibly because you have seen those very silly and misleading stage shows in the past where people ran around the stage pretending to be chickens?! Those shows were very bad news for hypnosis, hypnotists and hypno-therapists. Hypnosis is now used in all sorts of medical interventions, for example, dental work, surgical operations, childbirth pain relief and so on. I can assure you that you do not lose control while under hypnosis; you are always fully aware of your surroundings and in full control.

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