NLP Glossary of Terms

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NLP Glossary

Accessing Cues The ways we tune our bodies by breathing, posture, gesture and eye movements to think in certain ways
Analogue Continuously variable between limits, like a dimmer switch for a light.
Anchoring The process by which any stimulus or representation (external or internal) gets connected to and triggers a response, or making an association between a stimulus and a response.  Anchors can occur naturally or be set up intentionally.
‘As if’ frame Using guessing, imagining or pretending as the golden path to doing something that you have not done before.  Ask, ‘How would it be if I could…?’
Associated Inside an experience, seeing through your own eyes, fully in your senses.
Auditory To do with the sense of hearing.
Backtrack To review or summarise, using another’s key words and tonalities.
Behaviour Any activity that we engage in, including thought processes.
Beliefs The generalisations that we make about ourselves, others, and the world.  Beliefs act as self-fulfilling prophecies that influence all our behaviours.
Calibration Accurately recognising another person’s state by reading non-verbal signals.
Capability A successful strategy for carrying out a task.
Chunking Changing perceptions by moving up or down a logical level. Chunking up is going up and looking at a level that includes what you are studying. Chunking down is going down a level to look at a more specific example, or part of what you are studying. This can be done on the basis of member and class, or part and.whole.  See Stepping.
Complex Equivalence Two statements that are considered to mean the same thing.  Eg “He is not looking at me, so he is not listening to what I say.”
Congruence This is when all parts of a communication are consistently giving the same message.  This includes behaviours, words, tonality and body language.
Conscious Mind The part of our mind that is in present moment awareness.  It can only pay attention to a few variables at once and does not see longer term or deeper consequences.
Content The words that you say, as distinct from the way that you say them.  Also anything that is moving through a process.
Content Reframing Taking a statement and giving it another meaning, by focussing on another part of the content, asking “what else could this mean?”
Context Reframing Changing the context of a statement to give it another meaning, by asking “Where would this be an appropriate response?”
Conversational Postulate Hypnotic form of language, a question that is interpreted as a command.
Conscious Competence The third stage of the learning cycle in which full conscious attention is still needed to carry out an activity.  The skill has not yet been fully integrated and habitual.
Conscious Incompetence The second stage of the learning cycle in which conscious attention is on the task and the results are variable.  Although uncomfortable, this stage is when the rate of learning is greatest.
Covert Subtle or out of conscious awareness.
Criterion What is important to you in a particular context
Cross over Mirroring Matching a person’s body language with a different type of movement, eg tapping your foot in time to their speech rhythm.
Deep Structure The complete linguistic form of a statement from which the surface structure is derived.
Deletion In speech or thought, missing out a portion of an experience.
Digital Varying between two different states like a light switch must be on or off.
Dissociated Not in an experience, seeing or hearing it from the outside
Distortion The process by which something is inaccurately represented in internal experience in a limiting way.
Dovetailing Outcomes The process of fitting together different outcomes, optimising solutions.  The basis of win-win negotiations.
Downtime In a light trance state with your attention inwards to your own thoughts and feelings.
Ecology A concern for the overall relationship between a person and their environment.  Also used in reference to internal ecology; the overall relationship between a person and their thoughts, strategies, behaviours, capabilities, values and beliefs.  The dynamic balance of elements in any system.
Elicitation The skill of drawing out behaviour from others, including comments, questions, outcomes, states, skills and capabilities.  This can be done verbally or non-verbally, covertly or overtly.
Epistemology The study of how we know what we know.
Eye Accessing Cues Movements of the eyes in certain directions which indicate visual, auditory or kinaesthetic thinking.
Filters See Perceptual Filters
First Position Experiencing the world from your own point of view and being in touch with your own reality.  One of the three main Perceptual Positions, the others being Second Position and Third or Meta Position.  Together these give a Multiple Description.
Framing Setting a context, or way of understanding something for a purpose. See also Reframing and Out-framing.
Future Pacing Mentally rehearsing using a practical application in a desired future setting.
Generalisation The process by which one specific experience comes to represent a whole class of experiences.
Gustatory To do with the sense of taste.
Identity Self-image or self-concept – who people take themselves to be.
Incongruence State of having reservations or doubts, which may be conscious or unconscious.  Either way the conflict will be expressed in external behaviour
Intention The purpose or desired outcome of any behaviour.
Internal Representations All our thoughts and feelings.  The mental pictures, sounds, and feelings we remember and create.
Kinaesthetic The feeling sense, tactile sensations and internal feeling such as remembered sensations, emotions and the sense of balance.
Leading Changing your own behaviours with enough rapport for the other person to follow.
Lead System The representational system that finds information to input into consciousness.
Logical Level Something will be on a on a higher logical level if it includes something on a lower level.
Map of Reality Each person’s unique representation of the world, build from their individual perceptions and experiences.  The sum total of an individual’s personal operating principles.  See also Model of the World.
Matching Adopting some aspects of another person’s communication style for the purpose of building rapport, for example matching their posture.  Matching is not mimicry, which is conscious exact copying of another person’s behaviour.
Meta Existing at a different level to something else.  Derived from the Greek meaning over and beyond.
Metacognition Having the knowledge about a skill so that you can not only do it well, but be able to explain how you do it well.
Meta Model A model that identifies language patterns that obscure meaning in a communication through the processes of distortion, deletion and generalisation, and specific questions to clarify and challenge  imprecise language to connect it back to sensory experience and the deep structure.
Metaphor Indirect communication by a story or figure of speech implying a comparison. In NLP ‘metaphor’ covers similes, parables and allegories.
Metaposition The third perceptual position, the detached and benign observer of self and others.  See Third Position.
Metaprograms Habitual and systematic filters we put on our experience, typically unconscious, for example, being motivated by moving towards rewards, rather than away from unpleasant consequences.
Milton Model From NLP, the inverse of the Meta Model, using artfully vague language patterns, so people can make just that specific meaning from their own experience that is the most useful for them, didn’t you?
Mirroring Precisely matching portions of another person’s behaviour.
Mismatching Adopting different patterns of behaviour from another person for the purpose of redirecting a meeting or conversation.
Modal Operator of Necessity A linguistic term for rules (should, ought, etc).
Modal Operator of Possibility A linguistic term for words that denote what is considered possible (can, cannot, etc).
Model A practical description of how something works, whose purpose is to be useful.  A generalised, deleted or distorted copy.
Modelling The process of discerning the sequence of ideas and behaviour that enable someone to accomplish a task.  The basis of accelerated learning.
Model of the World Each person’s unique representation of the world, build from their individual perceptions and experiences.  The sum total of an individual’s personal operating principles.  See also Map of Reality.
Multiple Description The skill of gathering descriptions from different view-points to find the key to a situation, commonly the three different perceptual positions of First, Second and Third or Meta Position.
Negotiation The skill of trading off differences to reach a win-win agreement for both parties.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming The study of excellence and a model of how individuals structure their experience.
Neurological Levels Also known as the logical levels of experience: environment, behaviour, capability, belief, identity and spiritual.
New Behaviour Generator A simple and effective technique for the mental rehearsal of new skills and behaviours, or for making changes in existing behaviours.
New Code A description of NLP that comes from the work of John Grinder and Judith DeLozier in their book Turtles All the Way Down.
Nominalisation Linguistic term for the process of turning a verb into an abstract noun, and the word for the noun so formed.
Olfactory To do with the sense of smell.
Outcome A goal or objective that meets the following conditions:  it is stated in the positive, specifies the person’s own part in achieving it, is specific enough to have sensory-based evidence and has been checked for unforeseen consequences.
Out Framing Giving something a meaning that avoids possible objections.
Overlap Using one representational system to gain access to another, for example picturing a scene and then hearing the sounds in it.
Pacing Gaining and maintaining rapport with another person over a period of time by joining them in their model of the world.  You can pace beliefs and ideas as well as behaviour.
Pacing and Leading Pacing (as above) before starting to lead somewhere different.
Parts Sub-personalities with intentions, sometimes conflicting
Pattern An identifiable unit of behaviour, internal or external.
Pattern Interruption Any intervention designed to stop ongoing behaviour… k$yr%bnf&pd@lfd… so that you can lead somewhere more useful.
Perceptual Filters The world is always richer than our experience of it.  Our perceptual filters determine what we notice and what we delete, how we shape our Model of the World.
Perceptual Position The viewpoint we are aware of at any moment can be our own (First Position), someone else’s (Second Position), or that of an objective and benevolent observer (Third or Meta Position).
Phonological Ambiguity Two words that sound the same, but there/their difference is plain/plane to see/sea.
Physiological Concerning the body rather than the mind.
Positive Intention The positive purpose underlying any ‘difficult’ behaviour, what it gets for the person who does it that is important to them.  Finding it gives you the key to how to respond effectively.
Predicates Sensory based words that indicate the use of one representational system.
Preferred System The representational system that an individual typically uses most to think consciously and organise his or her experience.
Presupposition Something that has to be taken for granted for a behaviour or statement to make sense.
Process and Content Content is what is done, whereas process is about how it is done.  For example what you say is content, and how you say it is process.  We often get stuck by noticing only content.
Punctuation Ambiguity Ambiguity created by merging two separate sentences into one can always try to make sense of them.
Quotes Pattern We have heard this defined as, “A linguistic pattern in which your message is expressed as if by someone else.”
Rapport The process of building and maintaining a relationship of mutual trust and understanding, the ability to elicit useful responses from others.  Often operates at the levels of words, non-verbal behaviour, values and beliefs.
Recovery Strategy A process by which feeling under pressure, or stuck, leads to a way of feeling resourceful and generating new options.
Reframing Changing the way of understanding a statement or behaviour to give it another meaning.
Representation Systems Our six senses are our only channels of communication with the world: see (visual), hear (auditory), feel (kinaesthetic), smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory) and balance (vestibular).  In NLP these are called representation systems because these are also the only ways in which we can represent experience internally.  See Sensory Channels.
Requisite Variety Flexibility of thought and behaviour.
Resistance A block to understanding or acting.  Any resistance only exists by virtue of a continued push in the opposite direction.
Resources Any means that can be brought to bear to achieve an outcome: physiology, states, thoughts, strategies, experiences, people, events or possessions.
Resourceful State A combination of thoughts, feelings and physiology that makes any task easier and more enjoyable.
Resource Anchoring A simple process for bringing resourceful states into the present moment whenever they are needed.
Second Position Seeing the world from another person’s point of view, and so understanding their reality – one of three perceptual positions.
Sensory Acuity Training your senses to notice finer and more useful distinctions in the world, an important part of learning to read body language.
Sensory-Based Description Information that is directly observable and verifiable by the senses.  It is the difference between “Her lips are pulled taut, some parts of her teeth are showing and the edges of her mouth are higher than the main line of her mouth” and “She is happy” – which is an interpretation.
Sensory Channels Our six senses are our only channels of communication with the world: see (visual), hear (auditory), feel (kinaesthetic), smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory) and balance (vestibular).  In NLP these are called representation systems because these are also the only ways in which we can represent experience internally.  See Representation Systems.
Skill Consistent and effective actions or thinking that achieves the desired outcome and is backed by empowering beliefs.
Softeners As you begin to wonder what a softener is, that was one.  Usually used as a gentle way of asking a delicate question.  For instance, ‘Would you be willing to tell me X?’ rather than, ‘Tell me X’
Sorting The habitual process of paying attention to one thing and not another, usually unconscious and often reflecting metaprograms.
State Shorthand for physiological state, which is like a snapshot of the total neurology, the mental, emotional and physical experience.
Stepping Changing perceptions by moving up or down a logical level.  Stepping up is going up and looking at a level that includes what you are studying.  Stepping down is going down a level to look at a more specific example, or part of what you are studying.  This can be done on the basis of member and class, or part and.whole.  See Chunking.
Strategy A sequence of thought and behaviour to obtain a particular outcome.
Submodalities Distinctions within each representation system.  The qualities of our internal representations.  For example, pictures may be large or small, moving or still, in colour or black and white.
Surface Structure Linguistic term for the spoken or written communication that has been derived from the deep structure by deletion, distortion and generalisation.
Synaesthesia Automatic link from one sense to another.
Syntactic Ambiguity Ambiguous sentence where a verb plus “ing” can serve either as an adjective or a verb.  For example, influencing people can make a difference.
Systemic To do with systems, looking at relationships and consequences over time and space rather than linear cause and effect.
Third Position The third perceptual position, the detached and benign observer of self and others.  See Metaposition.
Timeline The way we store pictures, sounds and feelings of our past, present and future.
Tonal Marking Using the voice to mark out certain words as being significant.
Trance An altered state with an inward focus of attention.
Triple Description The process of perceiving experiencing through First, Second and Third or Meta Positions.
Unconscious Competence The fourth stage of the learning cycle in which the skill has been fully integrated and is habitual.
Unconscious Incompetence The first stage of the learning cycle in which we are unaware of a skill.
Unconscious Mind Our unconscious mind consists of everything of our inner reality that we are unaware of.
Unified Field The unifying framework for NLP.  A three-dimensional matrix of Neurological Levels, Perceptual Positions and Time.
Universal Quantifiers Linguistic term for words such as “every” and “all” that admit no exceptions.  One of the Meta Model categories.
Unspecified Nouns Nouns that do not specify to whom or what they refer.
Unspecified Verbs Verbs that have the adverb deleted.  They do not say how the action was carried out.  The process is unspecified.
Values Values are about what matters and is of importance to us.  They drive our behaviours.
Vestibular System Representational System that deals with the sense of balance.
Visual To do with the sense of sight.
Visualisation The process of seeing images in your mind.
Well-Formedness Criteria A way of thinking about and expressing an outcome which makes it both achievable and verifiable.  They are the basis of dovetailing outcomes and win-win solutions.

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