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NLP Attitude – Getting the NLP Attitude
~by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer ~
Richard Bandler once defined NLP as an attitude. “NLP is an attitude, backed up by a methodology that leaves behind it a trail of techniques” Now if that is true, and I think it is, then what is the NLP attitude? And do you have it? Many, if not a great many, people trained in NLP do not have the NLP attitude. What explains that? There is in my opinion an understandable reason why that is the case.

NLP Attitude Presuppositions

So let’s start with the presuppositions of NLP and consider what they imply in terms of attitude. If X is a basic premise of NLP, what can we infer would be the central attitudes which correspond to that premise?

  • There is no failure, only information that informs us of how to improve-curiosity, persistence.
  • The map is not the territory, only symbolic of it -fascination, exploration, skepticism.
  • The meaning of your communication is the response you get- openness, wanting feedback.
  • Mind and body are part of the same system -synergism, systems thinking.
  • Every person operates from his model of the world-respect, seek understanding, compassion.
  • Person and behavior are different phenomenon- respect of persons, more than behaviors.
  • Behind every behavior is a positive intention- honor persons, optimism, look for the positive.
  • “Lose your mind and come to your senses” (Perls) – sensory awareness, appreciation.
  • If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something different – flexibility, freedom of choice.
  • “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” (Bandler) – creativity, ecological thinking.
    Furthermore in learning NLP in the 1980s Michael trained with one of the founders (Bandler), but as Michael got to know Bandler, one thing he knew was that whatever the secret of NLP is-it did not lie in the persons who put it together. Bandler’s life was a mess! (See NLP Secrets: Untold Stories, 2019). So Michael looked deeper. And he looked inside the model for its working premises. Guess what he found? Therein lies the spirit that lead to the discoveries and creation of NLP.

So what is the NLP spirit that brought it about and that continues today to make it work?

1) Learning. It’s an attitude that there is always so much more to learn. There’s an attitude of know-nothing in order to avoid our own biases and stereotypes.

2) Openness. It is an openness to what I don’t know, to the feedback I get even that I may not want or understand, and more openness to change in a process world.

3) Curiosity. An attitude of curiously exploring everything. An attitude of asking, “What else is there? Am I missing something? What allows this to be as a possibility? What else can I use this for?

4) Questioning. It’s an attitude of boldly questioning everything, and then asking meta-questions of those answers. It is questioning with the Meta-Model to get precision and specificity.

5) Flexibility. It’s an attitude of being willing to change whatever is no longer working and adopt something new and different.

6) Persisting. It’s an attitude of never giving up, always looking for a way to make things happen, a “can do” attitude of determination and a bit of stubbornness.

7) Passion. It’s an attitude of passion to live life fully, to be fully present in the here-and-now. It’s a passionate attitude about connecting to others, making a difference, and adding quality to whatever you’re doing.
A passion and an attitude of adding more ecstasy to life, to relating, and to being the best version of yourself.

8) Playful. It’s an attitude of being playful, experiencing more fun in whatever you are engaged in, especially learning and skill development.
It’s the attitude that getting there is where there is the most fun. So the lighten up attitude, stop taking yourself or words so seriously.

9) Skepticism. It’s an attitude of suspecting that what you see is not all there is, that there is more and you have to hunt for it. “What else lies out there to discover?” “What else lies in this experience that I can use?”
It’s an attitude of skepticism about words knowing that “the map is not the territory.”

10) Creativity. It’s an attitude of creating higher quality products, services, and information. An attitude of inventiveness, “How can I make this better?”

Why do so many people trained in NLP do not have the spirit of NLP?

So here are some suggestions:

  1. They are trained exclusively in the techniques, the content and miss the attitude.
  2. The techniques are offered as final products rather than specific historical discoveries and so are open to updating, correcting, and even being made redundant.
  3. There are techniques treated as “real” rather than one way to map a resolution.
  4. Those training the techniques do not themselves have the spirit of NLP. So the attitude is not demonstrated.

However problem however is deeper and more pervasive than just that many NLP people do not have the right attitude. And what’s deeper is that so many of the techniques as processes will not work without the right attitude. Using them as if a formula out of a cookbook will seldom get the results that someone with the right attitude, even those less skilled, will get.
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