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Feature: NLP – The fast track to skills?


Robert Ballentine of Maheono explains how NLP modelling examines the behaviour of top performers in order to help others learn to replicate this behaviour and improve their own performance.

Over the last 30 years NLP has been disseminated through and into many different disciplines. Companies from all over the world offer NLP training as part of their curriculum or use the techniques of NLP in their own particular courses without referencing the source.

While this seems to be common practice in training, what it does do is to water down the source and make people believe that what they are learning is part of something else or developed by that person. An example of this is people learning NLP on an Emotional Intelligence course, and then saying they have learnt some great EI skills.

What sets NLP apart from other forms of learning methods is the distinction between process and content. NLP challenges the assumptions of traditional learning by asking the question – “If you have a person who excels in their field what are the differences that make the difference between what they do and someone else who is only competent?” In answer to this question Richard Bandler and John Grinder created NLP modelling.

NLP Modelling
A model is a collection of skills, behaviours and conceptual ideas of what a person does and how they do it.

In the 1970s Bandler, Grinder and others developed a new approach to modelling which encompassed internal processes as well as external behaviour.

NLP modelling is a method of discovering what top performers in an organisation do that makes them so effective. Once this is done, other members of the organisation can learn to replicate the effective behaviour and strategies to improve their own performance.

For example what makes Jonny Wilkinson an exceptional rugby player, or what makes Michael Schumacher an outstanding Formula One driver? What are the differences that make the difference?

When we excel at any particular skill it is because the skill has been honed to a fine degree over years of persistent practice, diligence and feedback. Most of which has been an unconscious process of learning. It is this unconscious process that NLP modelling focuses on and attempts to unravel.

When performing tasks you unconsciously pay attention to various informational inputs through your senses (taste, touch, smell, vision and hearing). Each one of these inputs interprets an event simultaneously and forms minute adjustments and changes to satisfy the progress of your desired outcome. It is these areas that are outside of our awareness that have been defined, refined and defined again and again until a state of optimal performance has been reached.

The advantage of NLP modelling is that it doesn’t rely on the person’s personal history or experience (content) but only on how they do what they do (process). This means that regardless of their experience, their skill or behaviour can be replicated and learnt in full without the years of trial and error that accomplished the original learning.

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