NLP techniques don’t work for me!
Not long ago I got an email: ‘I have been reading … (naming a well-known NLP-based self improvement book) and listening to the accompanying CD which a friend of mine has used quite successfully and recommended to me.
I am struggling with it because much of it seems to rely being able to clearly visualise some scenario and feel all the feelings associated with it. I find it very hard to visualise (hard to visualise the good stuff at least) and even harder to feel it so I am becoming rather disillusioned with the whole process – especially when the book tells me how great I will be feeling after doing some visualization, and I actually feel nothing.’
NLP is great for great visualisers
In his email Jack (not his real name) touched on one of those rarely discussed apparent flaws in how NLP is traditionally taught and presented i.e. that many NLP techniques work easily and excellently for very good visualisers – and not very well for those who prefer to think in sounds, in words, or in feelings.
If you can close your eyes and make wondrously colourful, three-dimensional, moving pictures you’ll find using traditional NLP techniques, as found in most workshops and books and recordings, a breeze.
And if you can’t – you won’t!
‘But, we’re all good visualisers, aren’t we!’
I first began reading NLP books and listening to recordings just over 30 years ago. Later I began attending workshops and still later went through the different certification workshops to become an NLP Trainer. And one of the things which puzzled me from the beginning was that no NLP ‘experts’ presented NLP in a way which was could be easily assimilated and used by non-visualisers, such as myself.
The mythology offered to us was that, since everyone visualises out of conscious awareness, you only have to keep practising and you’ll become a good ‘in-consciousness’ visualiser. Which for most people is simply not true.
It is one of those rarely discussed ‘awkward bits’ in conventional NLP workshops and books and A/V recordings that, as it is typically taught or offered, it works great for people who are very good visualisers and not so good for the rest of us – as it is conventionally taught.. .
Why is this? Well, the reasons are many and complex but they do start with how NLP has been and, in some cases, still is taught by the traditional Big Names – how they teach the people who teach the people who teach the … etc etc.
You need the right ‘volunteer’!
In attending training events by most of the NLP Big Names over the years I have observed one very common ‘method’. They tend to be very careful in prepping and selecting ‘volunteers’ for technique demonstrations during workshops. They do this to ensure that the volunteer’s experience with the technique provides a good example to the rest of the group on how to succeed with the technique.
Unfair? Well, they are business men and women after all and they also need to be good show-men and show-women. And they have a living to earn… If they’re doing an international tour they need to quickly get sign-ups to their latest workshop tour and/or to sell their merchandise, so wowing the audience is important.
And if you really want to wow an audience in this way you need to make sure that you select the right demonstration ‘volunteers’ – and this means you need to make sure they are good visualisers. If they are they’ll do the technique quickly – so the audience won’t get bored. They’ll also be ‘high responders’ so when they succeed people will see this because they will have a great (and very noticeable) buzz from their success.
Result: the audience will be impressed with the presenter and with the technique and will be more likely to find the technique easily works for them. Crowd dynamics will ensure that few people will ask awkward questions. The ones for whom it doesn’t work will keep quiet as they’ll recognise they’re obviously in a tiny minority of inadequate people.