Neurolinguistic programming or “NLP” is a quasi-scientific way to change how someone thinks through the use of language, behavior, and perception. In a nutshell, NLP can be used to change how someone views a situation or themselves, then induce positive changes or emulate the behavior of someone more successful/happier than they are.
As a life coach, NLP techniques could be some of the most valuable in your toolkit. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of integrating NLP into your coaching sessions.
Key Principles of NLP
To fully understand and integrate NLP exercises and methodologies into your life coaching sessions, you need to understand the core principles of neurolinguistic programming. Some of the most important include:
- The map is not the territory. In other words, how someone makes sense of the world is through their senses. But that sense is not objectively correct or true, and it also means that every person’s perception of an event can be different
- The mind and body are interconnected. What you feel physically influences your thinking and vice versa. So it seems only logical that changing the way you think can also change the way you feel in your body and life
- There’s a structure to subjective experience. With enough training and programming, you can experience your subjective reality “better” or in a different way
All of these major principles form the foundational lines of thinking inherent to NLP. They can be quite powerful.
Imagine that you work with a client who feels helpless or like they aren’t in control of their life. When you tell them that they have the power to change their thinking and feeling, they might be flabbergasted or relieved. At that point, it’s up to you to leverage the right NLP techniques to help your client to get to their goals.
NLP Techniques in Life Coaching
As you provide your clients with neurolinguistic programming benefits and techniques, you’ll want to focus on a few major strategies.
First up is rapport building and mirroring. Put simply, you should try to strike up a friendly, companionate relationship with your clients. Mirror the way they sit and speak – then show them that’s what you’ve been doing. Illustrate how mirroring them made you more personable and likable. You can have exercises with your clients so they can practice this for future conversations with others.
It’s also a good idea to practice the NLP technique of positive state anchoring. This means teaching your clients how to focus on a positive state of mind or reference and anchoring themselves within it. Then, when they encounter a difficulty or hurdle, they’ll see the event as a setback or positive challenge, not an insurmountable obstacle.
At the same time, try to teach your clients how to reframe any limiting beliefs and cognitive patterns they have. Coach them through negative thought patterns, like an internal belief that they aren’t very skilled, and have them repeat positive mantras, like:
- I am much more skilled than I think
- I am worth it
- I am good at my job
- And so on
Enhancing Communication with NLP
NLP can be used to enhance communication among your clients in many different ways.
For instance, you might use the meta-model in neurolinguistic programming. This involves you asking a certain set of questions to challenge and expand your clients’ limitations and their models of the world. Say you’re working with a client who is struggling to get the motivation to start a business. With meta-model NLP, you’ll challenge that worldview and help your client come out of their shell by:
- Responding to distortions of reality (e.g., I’m not very good at my job)
- Asking your client to speak with more positive words (e.g., I am a good person)
- And more
Or you might use the Milton model of NLP. This involves combining NLP core philosophies with hypnotic language to induce change in your clients.
Goal Setting and Motivation with NLP
Neurolinguistic programming can be highly effective if you want to help your clients with goal setting and motivation.
As an example, the well-formed outcomes model of NLP involves teaching your clients how to visualize and practically outline a long-term, positive goal or outcome. Once your clients have that outcome visualized and written down, they can pursue it in all aspects of their lives, including their relationships, finances, bodily health, etc.
This is a great tool for clients who struggle with forward-thinking, positive action, particularly action that takes a long time to coalesce. You may also need to teach your clients about NLP submodalities. These are very fine, specific distinctions in modality subsets, such as visual sensations, olfactory sensations, kinesthetic sensations, and so on.
Over time, your clients will start to think about setting goals and their own motivation in NLP-related ways. That will give them the internal power and locus of control they need to thrive in any environment.
The Benefits of Integrating NLP Into Life Coaching
No matter what specific techniques you use, your clients will see major benefits from your integration of NLP into your life coaching sessions. These benefits include:
- Much greater trust and rapport tween yourself and your clients, helping you produce positive results faster
- More effective communication between yourself and your clients. You and your clients will also see better communication in your day-to-day lives outside of the session
- A broader toolkit that you can use to address distinct client challenges, goals, and roadblocks. The more tools you have, the better a life coach you can be in the long-term
Given all these benefits, is no reason not to start reading up on neurolinguistic programming and incorporating it into your life coaching exercises.
As you can see, NLP techniques have major potential to improve the results you provide to your coaching clients. With your assistance, and with the right NLP exercises, your clients will go on to feel much better about themselves and have an easier time achieving their goals.