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Tuesday, 15 April 2014


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The Fundamental Principles of NLP

The Fundamental Principles or 'Fundamental Presuppositions' of NLP are 'fundamental' in that they provide an attitudinal background against which to apply NLP effectively and ethically.

In NLP we consider these to be working hypotheses rather than truths: we ‘act as if’ these principles are true – while recognising that there will be many situations in which this will not be the case.

Interacting with others

  • Take responsibility for how others respond to you. ('The meaning of your communication is the response you get')

  • Act as if people have all the mental and emotional resources they need even if they do not currently recognise this.

  • Discover the other person’s perceptions before you begin to influence them. ('Meet people in their own unique model of the world')

  • Recognise that in any situation a person is making the best choice with the resources which they currently perceive as being available to them.

  • Recognise that each person’s ‘truth’ is true for them even if it differs from your ‘truth’ – since any person's internal view of reality is just that – a ‘version’ of reality. ('The map is not the territory')

  • Recognise that people interact with their internal versions of reality rather than with pure, sensory-based, input.

Personal Development & State Management

  • Enhance your behavioural and attitudinal flexibility. ('In any interaction the person with the greatest behavioural flexibility has most influence on the outcome')

  • Act as if there is a solution to every problem.

  • Recognise the other person’s Identity or Self Image – by distinguishing between their behaviour and their identity or self image.

  • Act as if every behaviour is/was a means of fulfilling a positive intention, at some level, in a person’s life.

  • Redefine mistakes as feedback – and change what you are doing if what you are doing is not working.

General Principles

  • NLP is a model rather then a theory – and it is the study of subjective experience.

  • NLP is a generative rather than a repair model – it emphasises finding solutions rather than analysing causes – and in NLP we always add choices, rather than take these away.

  • Mind and body are part of the one system

  • All human behaviour has a structure

  • External behaviour is the result of how a person uses their representational systems.

  • If one human can do something then, potentially, anyone can.

  • Conscious mind capacity is very limited – supposedly to around 5-9 chunks of information.

These 'working principles or presuppositions have been around since the early days of NLP and are a guide on how best to use NLP. They are pragmatic rather than idealistic or unrealistic and provide excellent guidelines on how best to use NLP with other people.

NLP is a very powerful technology the use of which, if not backed by these guidelines, can quite easily be used to the detriment of others. This is why, in our NLP Practitioner Certification Programme we explore what each principle means in terms of behaviour and attitude. And why they form a key element in our assessment for certification as a Practitioner of NLP.

We believe that a true Certified Practitioner of NLP will have absorbed the key principles from the above list and that this will be demonstrated in their behaviour at an 'unconscious competence' level - so that their behaviour respects the self esteem, values and beliefs of other people.


By Reg Connolly, Director of Training, Pegasus NLP


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