NLP Behavioural Modelling: the essentials

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NLP Modelling – in a nutshell!

Behavioural modelling in NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the study of how people get delightful and successful results in their lives – and how people get less-than welcome results, too.

So, at its simplest, NLP Behavioural Modelling is the study of what accounts for the results that people achieve. In other words what are the thoughts, behaviours, skills, beliefs, values, and other attitudinal qualities that they use to do what they do.

For example, NLP Behavioural Modelling can be used to discover the ‘mechanics’ of thinking, feeling and behaving the an excellent golf player or a mediocre accountant utilise to produce their performance.

Why use behavioural modelling?

In very simple modelling you can learn from/about someone else by asking lots of questions and by very carefully listening to and observing their replies. In doing so you are likely to make some useful discoveries – such as that they prepare themselves in a particular manner or that they have a certain way of recovering from setbacks.

You may be able to incorporate some of their methods into your own behavioural repertoire or even find their interest in their subject so contagious that you also want to take up the activity.

The other person, too, can benefit from your modelling. Many people take their skills for granted. When you ask detailed questions about a person’s strategy for doing something they may come to recognise just how skilful they are. And with more advanced behavioural modelling such as we do in the NLP Practitioner Certification Programme, the quality of your questions can alert the other person to how they can improve their own strategy.

You can assist them in improving. As you obtain details of their strategy you may discover areas for improvement and alert them to these.

You can help others learn. By learning modelling with precision and skill you can pass on the behaviour, or part of it, to others.

You will understand them better. In modelling a person’s behaviour you temporarily enter their Model of the World. Doing this increases your understanding of them. This is especially so when you model a person’s way of having feelings.

Through self modelling you discover more about your own feelings, thoughts and behaviours. This is a particularly important application of behavioural modelling. For example you can discover the Anchors to which you ‘automatically’ respond, the way you use your five senses, how you use your self talk, how you use your body – and how doing each of these contributes towards the feelings you experience.

How to model behaviour

At its simplest:

  1. Become interested and curious.
  2. Create rapport
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Listen and check your understanding of what they describe
  5. Pay particular attention to their non-verbal communication
  6. Use their answers to form a mental image/feeling and make notes.
  7. Check your understanding periodically.

For example

If you wish to learn about someone’s interest in taking their dog for a walk

What exactly do they do?Get a precise description of the activity
How do they do it?This provides more detail than the What? question. Do they use a dog leash? A long or short leash? Do they talk to the dog? Do they notice their surroundings. Do they walk fast or slowly. Do they use a poop scoop? Etc.
When do they do it?Morning and/or evening? Every day?
Where do they do it?Local park? Country walks?
Why do they do it?What motivates them to do it? What they get out of taking the dog for a walk?

Model your own experience

By developing an attitude of continuously modelling your own experience you can engage in the Kaizen concept of making continuous small improvements in how you go about things.


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