What is NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP)?

What is NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP)?

Sep 17, 2021

“NLP is the study of the structure of subjective experience.”

NLP is an incredibly powerful discipline that enables people to unblock the structures of human communication and human excellence. By doing so people can think, communicate and manage themselves, and others, more effectively.

NLP was developed in the mid-70s by John Grinder, a professor at University of California Santa Cruz and Richard Bandler, a graduate student. NLP explores the relationships between how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour and emotion (programmes).

By studying and learning from these relationships people can effectively transform the way they traditionally think and act, adopting new, far more successful models of human excellence. That’s why NLP is one of the most powerful skills used in business management, psychology, sales, sports coaching and all forms of personal development.

NLP, as most people use the term today, is a set of models of how communication impacts and is impacted by subjective experience. 

The major models usually associated with NLP are:

Sensory acuity and physiology

Thinking is tied closely to physiology. People's thought processes change their physiological state. Sufficiently sensitive sensory acuity will help a communicator fine-tune their communication to a person in ways over and above mere linguistics.

The "meta-model" and the "Milton-model"

These models are based on the relationship between the "deep structure" meaning and the "surface structure" of sentences. The meta model seeks clarity and challenges assumptions in order to uncover the deep structure, whereas the Milton model is artfully vague so that the listener is free to interpret the words in their own way.

Representational systems

These actually appeared in Erickson's work and the work of others, though Bandler and Grinder took them much further. Different people seem to represent knowledge in different sensory modalities. Their language reveals their representation. Often, communication difficulties are little more than two people speaking in incompatible representation systems.

Eye accessing cues

When people access different representational systems, their eyes move in certain ways. This provides an indication of how and when a subject is processing information.


The structure of internal representations determines your response to the content. Information appears to be stored in different parts of the brain and with different intensity. It is possible to change the structure of memory, and thus of a subject’s response.

For example, the degree of colour, part of the structure of the representation, affects the intensity of your feelings about the content.


These are aspects about how people process information and make decisions. For example, some people are motivated toward goals, while others are motivated away from non-goals. Towards or away from tells how they respond to their world; which one a person prefers in a given context will dramatically change how they behave.