Earlier in my life I was very introverted and not always comfortable expressing my thoughts and ideas. I read through several books and came across the practice of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The information I read was interesting but limited so I searched for a good overview of the field and I found “Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People” by Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour, published by Thorsons in 1995.
After purchasing this book I went home and read it cover to cover. I forgot about my original intention of improving my communication and was drawn into the world of NLP. This book promises not only to improve communication but also to teach accelerated learning strategies, to achieve the results you want, to improve effectiveness in business, and more.
After giving some history and background on NLP, the authors provides the foundation on which the NLP techniques are built. After providing some history and background on NLP, the authors expose the primary areas of study in the field: how we learn, how we filter the world, and how these filters limit our perceptions which in turn limit what we can achieve. Information is also provided on how we organize our perceptions using different representation systems and how we can understand the representation systems that other people use to organize their perceptions.
This deeper understanding of perception and experience forms the basis of the NLP meta model. The meta model is set of common communication patterns that can hide information when communicating. By becoming aware of the different language patterns that we and others use we can begin to communicate more effectively.
Much of NLP is built on ideas that come from hypnosis and working with the unconscious. When working with the unconscious it is important to have impeccable communication so as not to implant negative thoughts and ideas. The authors go on to provide ways of accessing unconscious resources, though there isn’t a lot of discussion about actually performing hypnosis (probably because of the potential danger in untrained hands). However, some techniques are given in using metaphor, working with perceptions of time, reframing and the transformation of meaning.
The authors go on to discuss hierarchy — how information, and our perceptions, are organized in a hierarchical structure. If you are aware of this structure you can move up and down the hierarchy to affect change in a person or negotiate a mutually beneficial deal. In fact, negotiation, selling, and meetings are some of the areas in which practical applications are discussed. Practical applications are also given for psychotherapy. Psychotherapy techniques include curing phobias and resolving internal conflicts.
The final chapter delves into using NLP for accelerated learning. The approach given is based on techniques for modeling the behaviour of experts in a field of interest (incidentally, NLP was developed by modeling successful practitioners in the field of therapy). Many strategies for excelling in different areas of life are given including music, memory, and creativity.
“Introducing NLP: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People” covers a lot of ground: although introductory in nature, there is enough information to apply some of the techniques in everyday situations. However, each area of NLP that is presented is a field of study on its own. After I absorbed the ideas presented in this book, I found that not only did my communication improve considerably; I had a new ‘map’ of the world which was far more conducive to success than my old one. When you think about it, who couldn’t use a more successful map?
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