The NLP Presuppositions Part I by Rachel Hott, Ph.D. Source: Anchor Point Magazine
As some of you may know this column is for the beginning NLPer. If you are already a Practitioner or more, you may want to practice your speed reading. Before you learn and practice any of the NLP techniques it is important to understand the underlying beliefs of this model. I would like to introduce you to the basic presuppostions that underly the NLP model After you have read this article you should be able to integrate these presuppostions into your behavior. A presupposition is a concept that supports your behavior, internal processes and internal feelings. When you listen to a person’s content you can identify many personal presuppositions. In the beginning of the paragraph I presuppose that someone reading this already knows that this is a back to basics column. I also presuppose that someone can speed read and that you will learn and practice NLP.
Imagine that you have just traveled to another planet. You push the button that automatically slides your rocket ship door open. You peer out and on the terrain is a large sign. You cautiously ( you wouldn’t want to trust a new planet so readily would you?) float over to the sign and read:
I. Communication is the response you get no matter what your intention.
II. There is a positive intention for every behavior.
III. Everyone has all the resources they need.
IV. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback
V. We are making the best possible choices at the time.
You say to yourself. “Hmmmm. These are some interesting ideas. Perhaps I can find a being who will explain them to me.” At that moment a voice from above calls to you and begins to whisper the meanings of these phrases. These are the whisperings that I heard from the being as well.
I. Communication is the response you get no matter what your intention. When we are interacting with others we are constantly getting responses. Sometimes we elicit a response that we did not expect or plan. For example, anger, hurt or confusion. In order to be a more precise communicator it is important to both pay attention to the responses you receive as well as being clear about your intent. In Park Slope, Brooklyn, where I use to live, on every tree or telephone pole there would be some type of flier. One day I saw a very creative flier for a lost dog. I was impressed with the flier and thought my mother’s boyfriend who loves animals and also found his dog on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway would be interested in seeing it. So I removed it from the tree and and mailed it to him with a short note. (I was thoroughly impressed with myself for having mailed the letter. Sometimes it is so hard to lick a stamp.) My intention was to share something with him and let him know that I was thinking about him and his concerns. The response I got was a real surprise. He was insulted and felt that I was making fun of him and cruel for removing the ad from the pole, in case the owner was to have passed by. I was told all this by my mother. I called him and explained that although it was not my intention to hurt him I understood that he felt insulted. He accepted my apology.
In our work with trainees and clients we have found that it is essential to separate out the response and the intention. The essential element is that you acknowledge or validate the response. Typically people get into who is right/wrong statements instead of identifying the response as something very real for the other person. After you validate the response you can restate your original intention The effect of this style is that the person feels “listened to”. Once you have restated your intention there is a more clear communication interchange. In order to get the response you want you need to think more deliberately about the other person’s model of the world. (See June issue). If I had thought more strategically about his model of the world I would have called him up and told him about the poster and how it made me think of him. This would have been acceptable to him because the flier would still be on the pole.
Often times people say, “It’s his/her problem” or “They are the one who needs to work on communicating.” These phrases indicate a lack of taking responsibility for their communication. If you experience a situation in which the response was not what you wanted then notice the response you did get and use that as a clue into the other person’s model of the world. The key element in this presupposition is to pay attention to the RESPONSES you get. Take responsibility for the responses you receive.
II. There is a positive intention for every behavior:
The Random House Dictionary definition of intention is: An intention is the act or an instance of determining mentally upon some action or result. In the NLP model the positive intention does not have to be conscious. It may very well be unconscious. How many times have you said that you would stop; drinking coffee, create failure fantasies or cynical inaternal dialogues? There is probably some behavior that you can identify that you would prefer to change. A first step for you is to identify the underlying positive intention of the behavior. “What is this behavior doing for you?” would be a way to begin uncoveri