NLP and Coaching

A carpenter heads into a job site with their tool belt full and mind open, ready to get to work using an assortment of tools depending on which one is necessary and the most efficient in completing the task. This carpenter doesn’t only rely on one tool to do the measuring, cutting, sanding, screwing, edging etc. That would not only be pretty hard headed and stubborn, but it would also end up in the job taking a lot longer and the overall quality being diminished.

The same can be said when it comes to how I believe a life coach should approach each client and session. Relying on only one tool no matter the job, person, and circumstance seems like such a restricted way to go about solving a problem. Off the top of my head I can think of over 15 different forms of therapy/coaching/behaviour models that can be useful and proven effective in certain situations. Whether it be NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), CBT, hypnosis, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, spiral dynamics, 6 human needs…they can all help the client when used at the right time. This is how I incorporate NLP into my life coaching sessions.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming sounds like it’s complicated and mysterious, and to be honest I do feel a little smarter each time I say it (insert dog with glasses meme). However, it is a funky name for a very natural process that humans use to generate memories, feelings, and emotions. We all use our words, our thoughts, and our brains to create certain states and feelings. All NLP does is make us aware of this and these patterns and to allow us to consciously choose our words/thoughts/states more carefully and with an exact goal in mind. By doing this, we can consciously affect our sub-conscious.

One of the simplest forms of NLP is called the Meta-Model. It is used by a coach when listening to a client. It moves the conversation from deep structure to surface structure by challenging deletions, distortions, and generalizations. It deals with precise meanings. When using this technique the coach will challenge any generalizations (“always”, “never”, “everybody”), challenge any deletions (about whom, about what, compared to whom, better than what), and challenge any distortions (client is mind-reading, cause effect, presuppositions). By simply listening to the client and catching any words or phrases that fit into these categories, then have the client reword and continue on, the Meta-Model will open up new possibilities and remove the blind spots that we all have created from our verbiage.

You would be surprised to how effective, and infuriating this can be to some clients. When there is someone there to catch and challenge you on your words, those same words that have been making up your life story for so long, it can be quite eye-opening to see how we have shaped who we are and what things mean by simply using certain words again and again.

Now that is only one way of incorporating NLP into a coaching session, and along with many of those other tools in the tool belt, it is the coach’s or NLP practitioner’s job to choose which one is the right fit.

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