This is a great question. One that no two people typically give the same answer to. I have come across many definitions myself and many opinions of what people think Neuro Linguistic Programming is. If you look at the name it gives some hints of the field it represents:

  • Neuro: refers to the connection between neurological processes both within the mind and the body and how they effect one another.
  • Linguistic: is the language that our neurology understands and when used correctly can effect change
  • Programming: refers to the behavior patterns that have been learned through experience. Now this is the word that worries some people because in effect it does imply that we can be controlled like computers. Fortunately, this is not the case.

On my NLP Practitioner Certification course, we brought the component parts of Neuro Linguistic Programming together and made a partial definition as follows:

NLP is how to use the minds own language to consistently achieve our specific and desired outcomes.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder founded NLP in the 70’s because they wanted to understand why psychologist were achieving inconsistent results in their treatments. Additionally seemingly different schools of psychology were approaching therapy is very different fashions and had different ideas of the root ’cause’ of many conditions. Bandler and Grinder wanted to understand what these approaches had in common that allowed them to achieve the results they did. Out of their study of leading psychologist and psychiatrist they created the field of NLP. Here you can hear what they have to say about the definition of NLP.

Today NLP has gone beyond the realm of pure psychology and is the foundation of virtually every self-development and personal growth theory, book, DVD and training you can find, whether the creator admits to it or not. NLP principals of rapport are the cornerstone of most sales, customer care, negotiation and leadership theories. Its unfortunate, but the covert spread of NLP theories is vastly beyond the credit the field deserves.

So, what is NLP… really? My definition is:

NLP is the study of how to effectively communicate with the neural processes of human beings in order to facilitate quick and lasting positive change and of identifying and isolating excellent behavior patterns in individuals in order to enable others to adopt the same excellence as part of the reality their own true potential.

How would you define Neuro Linguistic Programming?

[Photo by Paul Downey]