Getting Good With The Techniques of NLP: Fixate On Function & Repetition Then Go For Variety...

Getting Good With The Techniques of NLP: Fixate On Function & Repetition Then Go For Variety...

Sign Up To Your Free NLP Times FREE Member Newsletter

Subscribe today and receive:

  • Exclusive emailed discounts and special offers
  • In-depth advice, expert interviews and real world stories about using NLP
  • Step-by-step techniques, proven strategies, resources and more
First Name:
Email Address:
No Spam Policy: We will not sell or distribute your info
Newsletter FAQ | Cancel Newsletter Any Time

Everything habituates. So does your thinking about the technology. And that can be both a good or a bad thing.

Many people think you need to know tons of techniques to be good with NLP but that isn't necessarily true. Being good starts with building strong foundations and doing the basics well.

Unfortunately perhaps as many as 8 out of 10 NLPers don't apply the basic toolset on themselves frequently enough. And so fail to get more of the results they want.

That's a real shame because even the most "basic" processes in NLP can be magical when you apply them often. What gets in the way sometimes is all the choices - there are a lot of techniques out there to distract you - leading to people thinking "if I just knew the one right technique." But often change is created by applying many processes together in a specific sequence.

Do I need To Learn 200 Techniques?

Not at all. You only need to know a handful of processes to be able to significantly improve your life.

In fact there aren't 200 techniques in NLP. For the most part there are really only a relatively small number of techniques with all the others being re-configurations of a few underlying processes and given a new name.

If you want to become highly competent with NLP then the secret is to shift from learning a specific technique to being able to track the function and sequence a particular technique follows.  Then learn how to use a few techniques really well and build your skill set from there.

Take for example the "well formed outcome" process - one of the basic patterns of NLP. If you really mastered this pattern it would make a tremendous difference to your life.

In summary we can define this pattern as an 8 step process.

These are:

1. State the goal in the positive
2. State what you can do
3. Contextualise the goal
4. State it in sensory based terms
5. Articulate it as bite sized steps and stages
6. Identify what resources will be required to achieve the goal
7. Check for ecology
8. Specify the evidence for achievement of the goal

Eight easy steps or so it seems yet underlying this pattern is solid thinking skills, being able to:

*    easily move up and down the axis of specificity and abstraction
*    represent and calculate the effects of activities over time
*    define and establish clear criteria
*    being able to task decompose your goal
*    Identify and arrange the allocation of resources

Although it's a basic pattern in NLP, many people have not yet got what the functions of each step are nor are able to use it masterfully. As a consequence they don't give the pattern as much attention as it deserves.


Fixate On Function & Repetition Then Go For Variety...

Let's revisit some of the key functions of each step - so you can avoid this problem.

1. State the goal in the positive

The purpose here is to focus your brain on what you want to have occur. Your brain doesn't do negation. In order to negate "I don't want to be upset", your brain has to represent it. By stating your goals in the positive form of what you do want - you are setting a target in the future, but one that you will embody from now. The goal is to create a compelling representation that your brain and body are compelled to move toward.

Most people get stuck in achieving their goals because they have structured it in a form where their brain is locked on what the don't want!  So it has little to work with in terms of what it should be doing. This means they almost never produce what they want and have to settle for what shows up.

2. State what you can do

Once you've got a goal that is represented in a form that tells your brain "this is what I want to have occurring" we then shift to ESTABLISHING a direction and checking that the representation is filled with activities that are within your control.

No direction, no progress. Just aimless wandering.

Steps 3, "Contextualise the goal" and  "4. State it in sensory based terms" are really about chunking down and establishing criteria which will greatly effect the achievement of the goal.

You are looking to formulate the boundaries in which this desired outcome or goal will occur. You are also looking to formulate behavioural evidence that adds another layer of description to your compelling future of what you want to move towards.

If you can't define it in sensory terms then you've got one or more layers of abstractions in the way of your goal. Which then becomes another thing your brain has to try and decode or make something up as to what you should be doing.

5. Articulate it as bite sized steps and stages

Breaking a goal down into the many steps and stages involved to achieve it is a key skill many people don't have.

In NLP we refer to this process as task decomposition. If you fail to articulate your goals into bit sized actions you will have a difficult time:

*    figuring out what resources are needed
*    will be confused about the next physical action (NPA)
*    can quickly be overwhelmed
*    won't be able to sequence what should come first, second, third etc
*    will have a difficult time prioritising

So taking the time to think through each key task and set a appropriate gradient is a must.

6. Identify what resources will be required to achieve the goal

After you chunk down to define the sensory aspects on the goal you need to chunk back up and figure out what assets and resources will be needed to move from your present state to the desired state.

Resources are all around us but many people never see them because they haven't defined their goal in sensory specific terms and are confused about what steps are involved. Only after you've got a clear view on what the goal is, where you are now in relation to it and what baseline activities will most likely be key to produce it can you have a good idea of what resources are needded.

But identify the resources you must - if you intend to produce the desired result.

7. Check for ecology

Checking ecology is all about flushing out any cross-motivations a person has about "really going for this goal." It also involves identifying any thoughts, feelings, environmental factors or behaviours which would get in the way of achieving this goal.

8. Specify the evidence for achievement of the goal

Lastly this step ensures you have adequate sensory and behavioural based criteria so you know when you have achieved your goal. This would form the criteria for the second test in the TOTE which asks "am I there yet?".

If you have no evidence criteria then you will likely:

*    Waste a lot of time doing stuff that isn't working
*    Use the wrong resources or use resources inefficiently
*    Keep going when you should have stopped or changed track
*    Give up early when "success" was just around the corner

To avoid these problems you need to make sure you have sensory based criteria informing you when you have achieved the desired result (or result of your sub-TOTE).

For example if you wanted to have a person relax, your success criteria might include:

*    "breathing deeply from the belly"
*    "softening of the facial muscles - no frown lines"
*    "slow even rhythm to their speech"
*    Etc

The better you articulate your criteria the easier your testing process can be and the quicker you'll know when something is working vs. when it is not.

So in summary we can represent it as:

  • Get clear about what you want. The who, what, where, when and define it in a sensory form
  • Make sure that the result is achievable through actions or resources that you control
  • Break the goal down into bite sized tasks with clear next physical actions (NPA).
  • Identify, arrange and allocate resources
  • Remove or address any inner obstacles from fully committing to the goal
  • Act on your first NPA and test as you go

Apply this process for the next month on every goal or project and you'll habituate habits for success that will move across your life and last you a lifetime.

Once you have the well formed outcome wired up, choose another basic pattern like the swish pattern and apply that everywhere.

Using NLP to improve your life is easy. But it depends first on building strong foundations.

Building strong foundations takes time but it's worth your while.

NLP For Beginners

Recommended Articles

"Does doing NLP by yourself from a book actually work?"
Creating More of The Life You Want - A Counter Intuitive Process
How to get really good at anything - a powerful NLP "meta strategy"

Follow us on


Feedback Form