If you are a coach and you are not using NLP in coaching then you are missing a trick. In this part of our Coaching and NLP uncovered series we are going to discuss how to use NLP in coaching others.

We are going to talk about how to use the NLP to get great results when working with and coaching other people and for yourself.

NLP was developed through observing what works in creating change and excellence. The body of NLP is so effective in coaching because it provides coaches with models, techniques and processes to follow that help bring about change and help people get what they want from life and achieve excellence.

There are lots of exercises for you to do in this series as examples of how using NLP can generate change, help form great motivation and visions for the future so that we can use our brains better and get more from life.

This series will be useful for you if you have an interest in learning more about NLP, if you are thinking about coaching others or if you are already a coach and want to add some more tools to your portfolio.

I (Anthony) am a coach and I also train other coaches. I hope that this series will prove useful for you and that it will encourage you to learn more about yourself and learn more about NLP so that together we can help people create better lives.

I am going to talk you through some of the models and techniques in NLP so that you can see for yourself how NLP and coaching interact, solve problems and create solutions.

Why use NLP in coaching? 

In short using NLP will make you and others that you use it with FEEL DIFFERENTLY. You will feel differently within, feel differently about yourself and your capabilities and feel like something has changed. The methods and techniques in NLP change the way we feel.

Coaching clients crave positive change. They need to feel change taking place and this is what happens in coaching sessions using NLP. It happens like magic but in fact it isn’t magic, it is planned, rehearsed and well executed techniques that produce the change in feeling and thoughts. 

This magic and change is worth paying for – it provides value to coaching clients and an income for coaches. 

Coaches – Use NLP in your coaching!

What do you know already about NLP? You probably know more than you think that you do. We are all using NLP all the time. NLP is experiential, it is about knowing what works and using those things to achieve objectives and get better outcomes.

NLP is about understanding what makes us tick, understanding and using the language of the mind to get better results. NLP is so popular amongst coaches because it provides tools and techniques for coaches to use that bring about better self awareness and change.

Coaching for Change

Coaching is about assisting others in going somewhere that they want to go with their life. We are a coach, right? We help transport people and we help create positive change. We use the techniques of NLP in order to do that.

If someone is interested in coaching then they want change, don’t they? If you coach them and everything stays the same for them then you haven’t been effective as a coach and they won’t be wanting any more coaching from you.

The fact that someone expresses an interest in coaching means that they are seeking change of some sort, so that is the first box that needs ticking. People need to be interested in changing something.

Also a fact is that the coachee hasn’t been able to create the change that they need themselves otherwise they wouldn’t need coaching. There can be lots of reasons for this and the main reason is because people get stuck in the same thought patterns and behaviours and they can’t seem to generate sufficient motivation or they haven’t yet released their capabilities to get out of those limiting patterns.

The job of a coach is to enable people to take a look outside of their current limitations, create compelling objectives for their work or their life and facilitate the change. This is our end objective in coaching.

You will hear me talk a lot about structure in coaching. Structure is important, it gives us guidelines to follow and helps us understand concepts better. NLP is big on structure, it gives us a framework to use and there are five main principles in NLP that we need to bear in creating change and in working with others.

5 Premises of change in NLP

5 Premises of change in NLP

Here then are the five principles or presuppositions for change in NLP which a coach will apply in the coaching process:

  1. The map is not the territory. Our map is our thoughts and feelings. The territory is reality. we respond to thoughts and feelings about reality not the reality itself. This is good news because it means that it is possible to get a better map, a better way to think and feel.
  2. Experience has a structure. The way in which memories are arranged in our minds determines what they mean and how they will affect us.  If we can change the structure of our memories we will experience these events differently.
  3. If one person can do it then anyone can learn to do it. This is the great premise of NLP. Excellence and achievement have a structure that we can copy. If we use our brains in the same way as the people achieving excellence then we can achieve the same results.
  4. Mind and body are part of the same system. If you can change your mind then your abilities will change. If you change your posture, breathing or other parts of physiology then your thoughts will change and this will improve the way that you feel.
  5. People have all the resources that they need. An image a sound or a feeling is a resource. We have the ability to see pictures in our minds. Whether these pictures are clear or fuzzy. They can be built up into great visions. Inner voices can criticise us or encourage and guide us. If we have experienced a feeling once then feelings can be transferred from the past into the present and be there anytime that we need it.

When a client comes for coaching they may have a problem in mind that they want to address or a challenge that they want to discuss. They may or may not have a solution or an outcome that they would like at this stage and an initial chat with a client would be designed to agree an outcome for the coaching. During the coaching a coach will apply specific NLP techniques related to these five principles to the problem or challenge to help the client create their change and get their desired outcome. NLP is outcome focused.

These five principles form the foundations of how to create change. We are going to look at each of these principles in more detail later in this series and see how they can be useful to us as coaches.

Why use NLP? In the words of a coach learning NLP

NLP is a very well-researched and evidenced set of tools and techniques that help me to develop myself in the way that I want and more importantly to improve quite a few dimensions of my coaching and mentoring practice, which benefits my clients. It was created by observing key individuals who were masters of their craft, linking mind, body and linguistics and enables me to improve:

How I read my clients messages, verbal and non-verbal more subtly and to identify and work upon incongruency in their messages, getting to the nub of their issues more quickly (includes noticing the changes in tension in their face muscles as well as eye movements and body language.)

It enables me to understand better how I filter messages I receive to help me manage my self-talk and in the coaching session to be better aware of what I am seeing, feeling and hearing to feed back in support of my client and facilitate my greater objectivity and my better representation of reality.

Gives me deeper levels at which to build rapport with my clients, by not only being empathetic but also by acknowledging how they map the world and matching or not matching their verbal and body language, giving me greater control of the meeting. But also it is a “do with” process so it helps me to leave responsibility for the actions to my clients, and avoid, what is quite a natural tendency, to jump in to offer my own solutions.

A greater understanding of how others have constructed their world and using the presuppositions of NLP, to better respond to issues such as being stuck in a professional session and to accept that others see the world differently to me, and that they naturally try to do their best in the circumstances which may not seem so to me. Particularly in both settings, to know that they are just poor communicators or have a different representational system so it is for me to make sure that they are able to a meaningful two-way dialogue with me, they are not likely to be resistant to what I am trying to achieve, just poor at communication or there is an element of mismatching of communication for which I need to translate.

Additional tools to help me to work with the client to address their issues once identified, this includes building their confidence and other positive views of the world through working on their self-talk and also on their responses to the negative emotions triggered by events.

Enables me to work with them more effectively at both a conscious and unconscious level and giving me an observation structure to see what I am trying to achieve, how to approach it and how to read how well it is working as I  move through the process.

It is really good to have scratched the itch, to learn more about NLP after the three-day training I had as a trainer about 10 years ago. I now have a wealth of resources to deepen my theoretical insights and exercises to undertake to hone my practical skills. It fits well with all I have learnt before.

The principles of coaching I have worked with for many year are largely reproduced in the presuppositions of NLP but taken a little further. The way that Erickson treated his patients is reminiscent of “The Inner Game of Tennis” where W Timothy Galway the coach got the tennis player to tell him which way the ball was spinning to improve observational skills for himself. It also links with the “Five Minute Coach” and “Clean Language techniques” where you try to avoid making assumptions by translating a client’s words into your own and also to talk to them in their reference system by relaying their words back to them. The integration and greater perfection of these techniques is going to be really powerful and works to triangulate what I have learnt from different sources, giving me greater confidence in my competences as a coach and flexibility of approach in dealing with client’s issues. This will enable me to relax more in the moment within a coaching session and therefore be more capable of noticing even subtler changes in myself and my client – a positive reinforcement loop.

It will also enable me to articulate to a client an approach I want to try and to treat any unsuccessful avenues as feedback not failures. This will make me braver to attempt more. A positive double learning loop to satisfy my theoretical and pragmatic tendencies. It also includes the concept of checking that the action taken to address the issue is right for them, and wider within society. It therefore gives a sanity check before the coaching contract is finalised either to set up the sessions or as the working alliance is agreed within a session to reinforce the fact that I should do no harm.

If you would like to use NLP in coaching others then you may be interested in taking one of our NLP training courses or international Coaching Course. On these courses you can qualify as an NLP Practitioner, NLP Coach, NLP Master Practitioner,  NLP Master Coach, Life Coach and Business Coach.

Use NLP in your coaching practice – with the best intention (and for very good reason).