critical thinking and communicating

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~

Here are core distinctions of every professional communicator. Given that mastery involves making critical distinctions, how well do you make the following seven critical distinctions? 

1) Map and Territory                   2) Person and Behavior

3) Meaning and Response          4) Sensory and Evaluation information

5) Frame and Feeling                   6) Advocacy and Inquiry 

7) Current and Desired state

I began this series of articles by identifying these set of communication distinctions. You can think of each of those distinctions as presenting one aspect of critical thinking-a distinction which if you ignore, or don’t know how to make, would doom your communications to be vague, imprecise, and sloppy. Consequently, you would be more likely to create mis-understanding rather than deliver a clear message.

That’s why critical thinking is important

It enables you to be more precise and with precision, therefore clear. It also enables your communications to be more mature rather than over-simplistic, naive, and childish. Given the cognitive development stages of childhood, children cannot engage in critical thinking. Only after puberty, with the development of formal logical thinking, can a person’s thinking mature enough to begin to learn how to think critically. Yet even then it does not automatically happen and that’s why many adults (perhaps most) do not know how to engage in the advanced thinking competencies called “critical thinking.”

One of the fascinating and disappointing things I learned when I researched the field of Critical Thinking was that not a single writer in that field knew or quoted the NLP Communication Model – the Meta-Model. And yet it is perhaps the very best critical thinking tool of all. Having read extensively in that field, I never came across a model that was half as good as the Meta-Model. That’s why I put the Meta-Model in the book, Executive Thinking (2018).

Messy Communication

It is the lack of critical thinking that makes most communication messy and lacking important distinctions. So that lack also makes for a whole host of ways to mis-communicate and, of course, with mis-communication comes mis-understandings and conflicts. All unnecessary if a person knows how to think and communicate critically.

The original Meta-Model (1975) provided eleven (11) distinctions to make when using language to communicate. The extended Meta-Model (1997) expanded the list to twenty-one (21) distinctions- all of which enable critical thinking and precision in communicating. As a result, when you learn how to use the Meta-Model, you learn how to think about your thinking while you are communicating. Futhermore, today we call that level of meta-cognition- mindfulness.


That quality of mindfulness is a function of your higher brain functions, your pre-frontal cortex. It is from there that you are able to think things through with a quality of precision and specificity that comprises understanding and clarity. That quality of mindfulness enables you to know what you are doing with your words, your language, where you are sending the brains of those who are listening to you. When you don’t know that- you are guessing. You are crossing your fingers and hoping and guessing that your words will make sense to others and will transmit whatever message or meaning you have in mind.

The critical thinking, or perhaps more accurate, the executive thinking of your pre-frontal cortex, enables you to be mindful about what you are doing when you speak. Hence you can be more strategic. Now you can treat words and language as tools for achieving your ends. Now you can use the communication distinctions mentioned earlier to help you navigate the territory of communicating as a professional.

  • FREE EBOOK: How To Share Real Value With Employees To Generate A Highly Profitable Enterprise

Seven Distinctions Of A Professional Communicator

Professional communicator
Professional Communicator

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~

While many people don’t seem to know what NLP is, the answer actually is very simple.  Most essentially NLP is a Communication Model and, Neuro-Semantics, as a development within NLP for higher quality and professionalism, is most essentially an integrated and systemic Communication Model. Now while just about everyone knows that “communication” is important, most are clueless about how important it is.

So, how important is it?

Communication is critically important because communication drives everything human-relating, parenting, managing, leading, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, persuasion, wealth creation, expertise, etc. In each of these domains, the quality of your communication is the quality of your experience, your skill, and your expertise. Communication governs each of these areas and many more. Now you know why we so intensely focus on high quality communication skills in Neuro-Semantics.

Further, because “mastery is in the details” in every area, there are critical distinctions about communication for knowing how to unleash your highest quality communication skills. If you learn these, you will be able to become a professional communicator. If you don’t, you will be unprofessional, and possibly a toxic communicator, and worse, not even know it. The following seven critical distinctions are based the extended
Meta-Model of NLP and on the Meta-States Model.

Here are core distinctions of every professional communicator. Given that mastery involves making critical distinctions, how well do you make the following seven critical distinctions? 

1) Map and Territory                   2) Person and Behavior

3) Meaning and Response          4) Sensory and Evaluation information

5) Frame and Feeling                   6) Advocacy and Inquiry 

7) Current and Desired state

There’s also an extra benefit in learning these.

 When you use these distinctions, you eliminate major communication diseases. What creates dis-ease in the process of understanding each other? Ellis and Beck in Cognitive-Behavioral psychology describes these as the ways to make yourself (and others) miserable. 

             – Confusion of words with reality

             – Mind-reading and hallucinating

             – Judging, being judgmental, exaggerating

             – Emotionalizing: minimizing, maximizing

             – Personalizing: over-identifying, defensiveness

             – Blaming, accusations, insults.

             – Distracting, changing the subject, refusing to focus.

Excellence in Communication

Conversely, the seven distinctions create the foundation for those powerfully profound skills and states that facilitate excellence in communication. 

             – Sensory awareness, able to observe what is present. 

             – Present in the moment and focuses on the now.

             – Stepping back into an observing state (to be as objective as possible).

             – Getting the ego out of the way to be “clean” intentionally.

             – Staying open and receptive to feedback.

             – Flexibly adjusting to real-time feedback and making on-course corrections.

             – Thinking systemically and recognizing leverage points.

             – Exploring curiously to discover what is.

             – Seeking clarity in problem-definition.

             – Solution-focus thinking in creating forward movement.

             – Suspending meaning and opening up dialogue.

No wonder these distinctions are the prerequisites of true mastery in persuasive communication. These distinctions, as high quality frames, facilitate mobilizing your best resources for dialogue, co-creating mutual understanding and unleashing new possibilities. As this fits for coaching, training, educating, therapy, parenting, managing, and leading-these distinctions are essential for any and every Professional Communicator.

Distinction #1: Distinguishing Map And Territory

It is common-sense wisdom that “The map is not the territory.” A map is never the territory it represents just as a menu is not the meal; a sex manual is not love making; a photo is not the person. As different phenomena, map and territory operate in different dimensions and at different levels.

Simple, yet so Profound.

Simple enough to know also simple enough to forget. How and when do we forget it? When we think that our thoughts, beliefs, values, and identities are real. That’s the delusion. What you think as a mental map is not real and never can be. When you forget, you identify and create identification. You identify map and territory as one and the same. Further, when you think that X is real, you think it is absolute; you think it is beyond question (unquestionable). This describes the concrete thinker, the absolutist, the pulpit-pounding pundit who has “the answers,” the guru who demands blind and unquestioning obedience, the fundamentalist in any system (Christian, Moslem, Liberal, Conservative, Political, etc.).

Map is the stuff inside which is generated from the way you code and represent the outside world. Map is your ideas, beliefs, understandings, feelings, memories, etc. which you create about the outside world of experiences. You do not deal with the world directly, but indirectly (the basic epistemology of NLP). You interface with the electromagnetic spectrum as mediated through your sense receptors, neuro-pathways, brain cortices, beliefs, belief systems, etc. Territory is the outside world, all of the experiences, words, events, and happenings “out there” which we can represent in only a very limited way. 

“The word ‘pig’ is not a pig.  It is a word.”

Neo: “You believe in ‘karma’ … in ‘love?'”  “These are just words.”

World To Mind

For someone mapping what’s “out there” in the world and seeking to create an internal map that’s useful, the direction of fit should be from world to mind. A world-to-mind fit means that you are letting the world determine what you think- facts first, then thought. The reverse mind-to-world fit first thinks and then imposes that thinking on the world. This is never the way to start. It works only after you have thoroughly studied and mapped the world. Here you push the envelop through your imagination to see what else is possible.

As a masterful communicator you also know that all of your mapping is fallible, and even at its best, is only a guess. You also knows that the value of a map lies in its usefulness, in it being able to provide navigational guidance for moving through the world of experiences. Does the map correspond well enough so that you can use it to direct your thoughts and actions? Does it facilitate you having the experiences you want to have and to achieve the things you want to accomplish?

          How well do you recognize that all of your mental mapping is just a map? 

          How integrated is this as your frame of mind?

          How quick are you to ask questions rather than tell, demand, or give advice?

          How grounded is your recognition that your feelings come from of your maps?

Starting The Journey of A Professional Communicator

How intuitive is this distinction so that you recognize that every emotion is the difference between your map of the world and your experience in the world?

Distinguishing map and territory enables you to begin your journey to being a professional communicator. When you distinguish map and territory, you tend to be much more careful about your words and sentences. As saps you know they all suffer of the limitations involved in mapping- you know you have generalized things, deleted things, and distorted things. You know that your verbal map is partial, incomplete, and therefore inaccurate. And knowing that, you cannot be an absolutist about your map. It is just a map and always can be improved.

  • FREE EBOOK: How To Share Real Value With Employees To Generate A Highly Profitable Enterprise

Ego Investment and Coaching

ego investments

When A Coach’s Needs Get In Your Clients Way – Ego

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~
It can happen. Your needs, drives, and unfinished issues can get in the way of your client reaching his or her goals or even experiencing an effective coaching session. Unlike many professions where the agent’s congruencies, beliefs, psychological state do not matter, in coaching it matters. In many professions, what the person thinks, feels, and believes is irrelevant because it does not affect her ability to apply her skills and achieve an outcome.

But in coaching, you primarily use yourself to conduct the coaching experience. And because you are the “tool,” the condition of you as the means of transformation is critical. That’s why your emotional drives and needs can get in the way. And because of that, that’s why we work on releasing judgment and getting the ego-investments out of the way as a Meta-Coach. That is also why we repeatedly say that whatever happens in coaching session, it is not about you.

Unfinished Business and Ego

In spite of that, I often hear coaches, even Meta-Coaches, worry about what they would do if this or that happened. “What if the client wants to know personal things about me?” “What if my client rejects me?” “What if a client criticizes me?” Inferentially any of these concerns implies that the coach is making the experience far too much about him or herself. That would be an example of how your unfinished business gets in the way.

One reason for you, as a Meta-Coach, to revisit our Self Leadership training from time to time, is to refresh the foundations of your own personal flow or genius state. After all, if you feel powerless in handling something, or if your self-esteem hinges on your performance or the client’s outcomes, then you are working from a undeveloped self (perhaps a false self) and your need for unconditional self-value is getting in the way.

In the coaching experience, as a coach you need to be fully present to your client and to the situation being described so that you can flexibly think, problem-solve, think creatively, and think critically. But if you have some rigid ego-investments that causes your sense of self to be needy, that will interfere with effective information processing and coaching facilitation.
Your thinking will be shallow and superficial, self-focused, and probably defensive. And when you come from that kind of place you will not be effective.

To coach you really need to get yourself clean and clear.

By clean and clear I’m referring to completing any of the socio-psycho-sexual stages of human development that Piaget, Erickson, and others identified. The person who is stuck at some earlier level of development isn’t clear and therefore will not be able to be cleanly present for their client. While a great many of the NLP and Neuro-Semantic processes in Modules I and II can take care of personal growth and development and internal conflicts, sometimes a person needs either a coach or a therapist to clear out any remnants of unfinished business.

When there are struggles within any of us- it could be as simple as two legitimate frames warring against each other. There could be a frame war in a power struggle for dominance. Or it could be the function of a limiting belief, decision, understanding, identity, etc. And because these of frequently our blind-spots, no wonder we are often the last person to recognize them.

Now your needs, especially your unconscious drives, can get activated while you are coaching. There’s nothing abnormal about that. When that happens, use that awakening as indicating a next level of development for yourself.
Get with your coaching supervisor to understand and address that need or drive. The more you work on you- the more you keep yourself clean and clear as an instrument of facilitating for your clients. You will then be able to more clearly hear your client and support them.
Gain a deeper perspective in your needs by visiting Coaching Essentials

  • FREE EBOOK: How To Share Real Value With Employees To Generate A Highly Profitable Enterprise


communication myths
communication myths

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~

Given that NLP is a Communication Model and Neuro-Semantics is an Integrated Communication Model- communication is our business.  That is also why we often, instead of giving a “NLP Practitioner” certificate, we give a Professional Communicator Certificate.  After all, that’s what neuro-linguistics and neuro-semantics is all about- how we communicate meanings and understandings to ourselves and to others.  And in this, there are numerous communication myths that we have to expose as we train people in advanced communication competencies.

Myth #1: Communication is talking.

People who are deceived by this myth falsely think that by doing more and more talking, they are communicating more.  Others may think that effective communication is equal to the gift of gab.  But it is not!  Professional communicators know that communication involves listening as much as talking.

Talking, in the sense of advocating what you think, feel, and want is only part of communication, and actually it is a minor part.  The word communication itself speaks of a co-union and a communion of two or more persons who interchange ideas, listen to each other, and seek first to understand then to be understood.  Real communication is a collaborative adventure of discovery and, at its best, is a dialogue.

Myth #2: Communication is a one-way process.

Since real communication is not talking, to truly communicate, you have to engage in a two-way process that is more like a dance.  It involves both sending and receiving messages, receiving feedback and reflecting and adjusting, and learning, and co-creating the experience.  In communication, we compare message sent and received to see if they match.  Then we seek to match the other person’s model of the world in order to understand the other person on his or her terms.  In the reflecting process, we check on our own messages to check if we are being congruent and accurate.

Myth #3: Communication is easy.

The only person who could possibly think that this is easy is the person who has not tried it.  When you engage in the process of listening, entertaining another’s ideas, questioning and exploring, re-presenting your own ideas- you will quickly find out that it is challenging and demands a lot of you.

It demands attention, focus, being present, thinking, etc.  The dialogue process is actually a much more difficult challenge than most people imagine.  The challenge is due to the many variables involved, and the ability to truly listen, consider, ask good questions, get one’s ego-investments out of the way, to recognize one’s own thinking and emoting filters, and more.  All of these skills require training and practice in order to become truly competent in communicating.

Myth #4: Communicating is simple.

Rather than being simple, real communication is complex because it is multi-layered.  It is complex also due to the many, many variables involved.

With the messages sent and received, there is also the creation of multiple contexts of those messages.  Complicating things is the language used, the non-verbals, the history of a relationship, and the multiple levels of thinking and emoting.  There are also the multiple frames which govern the meanings and for those you have to go meta.  Then there are the 60 possible meta-programs which filter how each person thinks and perceives.  So getting on to another person’s channel is most challenging.

Myth #5: Communication is saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

If only it was that easy and simple!  But alas, “meaning” itself is an internal constructing of understanding, of linking and associating things together, so that actually “words do not mean” anything.  It is people who use words to convey meanings.  We do the meaning-making and we use words (properly and improperly, appropriately and inappropriately) so that we often have to check with others about how they are using their words and share our own operational definitions.

The basic NLP communication guideline is, “The meaning of your communication is the response you get.”  Given that, you never know what you have communicated.  With a video-recording, you can know what you said, how you said it, the context, etc.  But you never know for sure what the other person heard.  Not until you get a response can you begin to guess the message that the other person constructed from what you said and how you said it.  It’s the co-creation of meaning that makes communication a shared construct.

There are other myths and many, many more communication guidelines in NLP and Neuro-Semantics- guidelines that can enrich leadership, management, parenting, love and much, much more.  For more, contact The Coaching Centre

  • FREE EBOOK: How To Share Real Value With Employees To Generate A Highly Profitable Enterprise

What is NLP

What is NLP

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~

Morpheus asked Neo when they first met, “Do you want to know what it is?”
Neo answered with a question, “What is the Matrix?”  The question here is, “What is NLP?”  Now some NLP people seem to have a challenge about defining and describing what it is. I suppose that’s because as a meta-discipline, it can be applied to so many things. And yet, what it can be applied to is not the same thing as what it is. Identity is not the same thing as application.

A Communication Model

In terms of defining NLP, it is a communication model. How do I know that?Well, look at the title of the original books. The two volumes of The Structure of Magic is titled, A Book about Communication and Change. And in those two volumes, the authors present “A Meta-Model of Language in
Therapy.” Next, look at all of the communication models of NLP-

           The list of 12 linguistic distinctions (from Transformational Grammar) and questions to enable a person get a fuller and deeper representation of the person’s experience is the Meta-Model.

           The list of the sensory representation systems and their distinctions that comprise the language of the mind.

           The list of non-linguistic processes (calibrating, pacing, etc.) for communicating.

           The list of meta-program distinctions of perceptual filters that influence communication.

           The list of state or trance inducing linguistic and non-linguistic forms, hence hypnotic communication.

           The list of communication guidelines such as “The meaning of your communication is the response you receive.”


It’s a Communication Model! And the original design was to look at how the expert communicators in therapy (Perls, Satir, Erickson) communicated which resulted in effective therapeutic change. Later, others were modeled for communication expertise in business, medicine, leadership, etc. The originators also used and quoted the Satir Categories of Communication, they started with the linguistic formulations from Transformational Grammar and a little bit from General Semantics.

In April (2017) when I was in London for the NLP Conference, we conducted a short meeting for the NLP Leadership Summit and at the heart of the conversation this year was membership as well as what is accepted as “Neuro-Linguistic Programming.” One person suggested several new age techniques around “energy.” That’s when co-founder Frank Pucelik spoke up to correct that mis-understanding.

Not Everything Is NLP

 “I remember what we did at the beginning and a lot of it was surely not NLP. We studied these things (new age techniques and things from Esalen) to try to find interesting patterns, to increase our observation skills, or to find out if there was any truth claims in these strange systems, and sometimes just for fun to see if we could do them. We studied many things including but not limited to, Psychodrama, Re-evaluation Co-counseling, Art therapy, stage hypnosis, Castaneda (Don Juan, etc.), Bio Feedback, Sensory Deprivation (Isolation tanks), Massage Therapy, Reading Auras, Gestalt, TA (Transactional Analysis), Rogerian Therapy, Earth Coincidence Control Office (John Lilly), Dolphin Communication Patterns (Bateson) , Encounter Group Processes, Sensitivity T Groups, Past Lives, Occult Belief Systems, Pavlov, and many more. But we never considered any
of these systems to be NLP. We based NLP on all the processes that are known to be NLP/Meta today. The Meta-Model, Rep. Systems, Systematic Use of Negations, Calibrations, Major Beliefs, Anchoring, Pacing and Leading, The Milton Model, Satirs’ Conjoint Family Systems, Brain Hemisphere Functions, and the rest.”

The Study of Subjective Experience

Those were “the wild days of NLP” and in those wild days, while the founders explored lots of things, that in itself did not turn those things into NLP.
Later Robert Dilts along with the originators put together the first Volume of NLP and sub-titled the book, The Study of the Structure of Subjective Experience (1980). That’s because the elements of communication
(linguistics, sensory systems, non-linguistic responses, etc.) are simultaneously the components of experience. And if they are the components of experience- then we can use the very tools of communication to model the structure of any and every experience. That’s why NLP, as a Communication Model, grew and expanded by the process of modeling.

Components of Experience

Isn’t that fantastic!? The components of experience- then we can use the very tools of communication to model the structure of any and every experience. Did you catch the connection? The variables by which communication works (an experience) are the very variables (structure) of all experiences. That’s why and how the NLP model gives us the tools for modeling the structure (form, patterning) of experiences.

What is it? Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a Communication Model.

It describes how we are patterned (programmed) in and by the communication processes within neurology and linguistics. And yes, it can be applied to anything “human,” especially any and every human experience. But it is not everything. It is not therapy, counseling, psychology, or hypnosis- even though it arose from those disciplines. It is not persuasion, sales, management, leadership, or even coaching. Although obviously as a communication model, it will have lots of practical usefulness in these fields. Nor is NLP any of the many kinds of sci-fi “energy” programs that are touted under the name of NLP. 

Coaching Essentials

  • You Too Can Gain High Confidence In 3 Days With Coaching Essentials