NLP: Art or Science by Rachel Hott, Ph.D.
During my entire NLP training, I have heard two consistent complaints,”NLP is too technological” and “NLP does not have enough heart.” The first statement contains the presupposition that technology is wrong/bad. The latter statement presupposes that NLP is cold and that heart is necessary for change. I agree that both the technological and heart exist in the NLP model; however, I disagree with those underlying presuppositions.
The advancement of our civilization could not have occurred without technological know how. It is a compliment for NLP to be considered technological, if its “complex equivalence” is precision and exactness. The absence of “heart” in any system would be a dismal experience, one could say even disheartening. The sort by other pattern could not exist in a model that does not have heart. My premise is that both the technological and heart aspects actually support the power of NLP.
Since my practitioner year, I have -learned many techniques. At times I have been overtly technical in my processes. Other times, I have learned a technique and while practicing it gotten more involved in the person than the steps of the exercise. Now, as a trainer, I have given myself the task to work towards a balance between the technical and the heart.
When striving for balance, I recognize that both aspects contain useful and abusive characteristics. The uses of technical are demonstrated in the NLP techniques. To be able to perform any NLP technique a substantial amount of skills needs to be acquired. These skills encompass matching non-verbals and verbals, identifying eye accessing cues, predicates, criteria, meta-model challenges, metaprogram patterns, specific questioning styles, knowing the steps of the techniques, etc.
For example, when doing the swish technique, the programmer must know whether the client is associated and dissociated appropriately, be able to use submodalities, and increase the speed of the swish. The accuracy and preciseness of a programmer is related to their technical skills. The misuse of these skills is when they do a technique and that is all they do. They only know how to “do” a technique “on” or “to” someone.
After an interaction with a technician there is a lingering feeling that you were just “done to.” Once, during a break in a workshop, a participant came up to me and as we began to speak she asked if I was doing a technique. Consciously I wasn’t and answered no. This question made me realize that I was coming across as a technician. What that meant was that I was being too deliberate with my rapport skills. I stopped being deliberate and let my unconscious take care of matching. When NLPers first learn the techniques, it is more difficult for them to let their unconscious take over because their conscious minds are very involved in the steps. This learning phase can appear to be technician -like.
The usefulness of responding in a heartfelt way is to keep the programmer other oriented. The two pieces of NLP that incorporate the heart are the sort by other and sort by people metaprogram patterns. No matter how much you sort by other, if you are sorting by self or simply “doing” a technique the client will have a feeling that something is not right. In addition, if you believe that the person is important and comes before the information and the steps of the processes, a greater rapport will develop. When I put my skills on automatic in the previously mentioned situation deeper rapport was attained.
The workshop participant then confident that she was going through family problems and was having difficulty concentrating in the workshop. I taught her a self anchor with an auditory component for resourcefulness. This example illustrates how I was able to balance being other-oriented and teach a technique simultaneously. An example of misuse would have been if as she spoke I remained other oriented the entire time without any direction. The temptation to completely empathize and only empathize with someone is enticing. First, you do not have to take the lead and secondly, you believe you are sorting by other and person. The problem may be that the person really needs something more than understanding.
Achieving the balance between the technological and heart is an art. Many NLPers have already attained this art form. As in art, there are a variety of schools, styles, preferences, etc. Therefore, I do not claim to be able to identify a technician, heartfelt or balanced NLPer. However, I do believe that these aspects are important for each practitioner, master practitioner, and trainer to examine throughout their professional and personal lives. For me, the best of all possible modelsof the world is to blend the two.
Originally appeared in Anchor Point Magazine. Used by permission.