Top 5 Things You Always Want To Do When Using NLP

Everyday people face challenges.

NLP provides many tools that can help. Regardless of which processes you use there are five things you always want to do when using NLP.

This is a review on the basics and is useful for anyone wanting to be a better problem solver or NLP change agent.

1. Define Clearly What Is The Desired State

Specifically quantify and qualify what it is that the person wants. Clarity is outcome 1. If you can't describe what the end goal is, you will have a hard time achieving it. Also if the person is in a crappy state when they are telling you what they want - they are going to provide a sub-optimal desired goal state.

So change their state first and then elicit the desired response.

2.  Define Clearly What Is The Present State

The way a person thinks and articulates their present state has a huge impact on what they are noticing, feeling and doing. The brain gets metaphorically locked into seeing the pattern of the world in only one way and the client can't see a way out.

So you'll want to discover:

  • What has the person done already to try and solve his/her problem?
  • How are they holding the issue? (somatically, linguistically and emotionally)
  • What's omitted in their present state description?
  • What seems to be missing or stopping them from creating the desired result
  • Etc.

3. Qualify The Solution Set And Problem State

Frequently what a person first presents as their desired state is actually a presumed solution to the presumed problem. It is often articulated in a way that doesn't lead to clarity or a specific plan of action. For example "I'm broke, I want money" The obvious question is "So what?" and "what is to happen next?" Their desired statement in itself doesn't lead the brain to action.

  1. As a change agent you will want to qualify if the solution set really solves the underlying problem and if it will truly fulfill whatever need or purpose that the person is seeking.


Case Example


A person came to me recently and said "I hate my job, I want to change it." If we proceeded down the rabbit hole of "changing their job" without understanding what was driving the client's behaviours and what needs they were seeking to fulfill we would of spent a lot of time creating a solution that may not have worked. The person could still have found themselves doing a new job and being unhappy.

There are many ways to discover the underlying needs and outcome a person is seeking. Three powerful questions to ask are:

  • What will XYZ solution do for you?
  • What will it give you?
  • What will it get you?

Each answer points the person's consciousness in a different direction and will give you useful information to qualify the solution set.

4. Define The Change In Terms Of Behaviours

In NLP we treat thinking, feeling and doing as behaviours. When looking to facilitate a change and move someone from their present state to the desired state ask yourself:

  • What behaviours need to start?
  • Which behaviours need to stop?
  • in order for the person to get what they want.

With our example above - the client in question needed to...

Start thinking that:

  • the situation was solvable
  • that the power to do so was within his control
  • there are opportunities to improve his current work context
  • with a clear plan and actions he could start doing more of the work he wanted
  • etc.

Start feeling:

  • determined to see it through
  • excited to make it happen
  • etc.

Start taking actions:

  • to be more assertive in work
  • to actively participate in interesting projects
  • to expand his network of contact
  • etc.

And stop thinking the situation was hopeless or that feelings of apathy and despondency just arose in him etc.

[Sidenote: If someone is more attached to holding on to their problem - you will want to change that first, otherwise you may find there is no sticking power to the change.]

5. Identify What Resources Are Needed

Once you have a clear and qualified problem and solution set you can shift your focus to resources.


  • What resources are needed in order to get the new change in behaviour wired up?
  • What states if present would greatly help in creating the shift desired?
  • What resources seems to be missing? (e.g. states/knowledge/perceived opportunity)
  • Where can these be found?
  • How can they be evoked or acquired?
  • Etc.

By mapping through the resource requirements you can quickly generate several ways to move the situation forward.

Of course that's not the end - there is still the process of how you design the strategy, effect the change and make sure it lasts.

However, that's for a future article.

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I'm Tom.

Everyone has something they’d like to change in their life. I’m here to help you transform the behaviours that get in your way so you can have the life you really want.

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Everyone faces challenges. NLP provides many tools that can help. Regardless of which processes you use, there are 5 things you always want to do when using NLP...

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