NLP has adopted a hierarchy system in order to allow NLP Practitioners recognise peoples thinking patterns. When you can figure out how people are thinking, then you can assist them in making better choices. This is the art of training and coaching. The NLP Neurological levels of thinking model provides lots of food for thought:
Language is not just understanding the dictionary meaning/ definition of words. Language is a vehicle that expresses the internal state of an individual.
Sometimes the words that we speak are not really who we are. We have modelled our use of language from others and so may not be skilled in the use of language to communicate precisely who we are. We may for example try to say that we are not able to do something (skills level) but in fact what we mean is that we are not confident enough at it (belief level). In this case, the feedback we will get is someone showing us how to do it – something which we already know – and then feel humiliated and not helped.
Being aware of the Neurological Levels will help us to identify exactly from which level we are communicating and whether it is that level that we want to communicate from.
It also helps us to respond appropriately to others: it will help us to see from which level the other is communicating and respond accordingly thus facilitating communication, making the other feel understood and helped and maintaining / establishing rapport.
Apart from being important in interpersonal communication it is also important in intrapersonal communication. When I am aware and can discern from which level I am communicating something with self, I may address it in the right way.
Let me take the example given above – if I say I am not able to do something, I may read and try to learn more how to do it. But if, however, the statement is at belief level – meaning that I am not confident is using such skill – what I need to target is more the building of confidence, elimination of fears and insecurities, rather than skill-based knowledge.
As explained in this module the Neurological Level concept is also very important in organisations – both in training as well as in managing and motivating people. The importance of being aware not to label people from an identity level – saying for example, this person is resistant or this person is destructive. Instead of doing so one has to analyse the language the person is using and see at what level is the difficulty – maybe the person does not feel valued or the person feels excluded in decision making thus rendering them to become critical and demotivated.
The understanding of the neurological levels of change can help me:
- to use my words better in order to have a better chance of getting what I want.
- it will help me also in my work as a psychologist to help others get what they want,
- another benefit is when I am asked to carry some corporate training
- Lastly but not least it will help me in my role as manager
Realising that language is our main filter of communication makes me realize the importance of the words I use when speaking to others as well when I am speaking to myself (mental self talk). It is the words and the structure of the words I use which will distort, generalise or delete certain aspects of reality to myself and to others.
I need to pay attention to the language I use as that is reflecting what neurological level I am thinking on.
For example if I say I am a shy person, I am speaking on an identity level. I am generalising because If “I am a shy person” I will be like that in every situation and always; I am deleting from my immediate consciousness instances where I was assertive and where I spoke my mind without any fear or anxiety; thus I will be distorting the actual reality. I may distort even by putting information about situations where I was not shy into the picture of I am a shy person; for example by saying “Yes ok, I managed to approach a person that day but that was only because he/she smiled to me, or because I had a drink.”
Thus evidence which contradicts the identity statement will be distorted and put into the picture of the identity statement.
If I say “I believe I am a shy person”. I am expressing a belief on an identity. Saying “I lack confidence to approach a stranger” – will be expressing a belief about myself.
On the other hand if I say “I do not know how to approach a stranger” – there I will be speaking on capabilities. It may also be expressed “When I am in an informal gathering and there is some person I do not know whom I would like to speak to I feel inhibited/ anxious and do not approach him/ her”.
Here I am describing my behaviour in a particular environment. By doing so I will be diluting the problem / difficulty by changing the neurological level I am thinking / speaking from. Here I am realising that it is not an identity issue to a situational issue and that it has to do with confidence / anxiety in a particular situation.
If I am at a job interview or speaking to one of my superiors and say “I am shy”, I may not get the job or not given a responsibility / opportunity I want. When in actual fact it is not true that I am shy because when it comes to business matters, professional related situations I do not experience any of that anxiety / shyness.
Realising what neurological level I am thinking on helps me also in my relationships with others, whether subordinates, colleagues, friends or clients. I may have a tendency to speak form identity level saying “that person is rude”, “that person is resistant”. By doing so I will be cutting off the individual – generalising, deleting and distorting information to conform to that identity statement.
The behaviour is not what the person is – a person’s behaviour is not his/her identity – this really had an impact on me. Though I knew this before (theoretically so to say) it had never stuck me so clearly as when I listened to you speaking about is in the context of the neurological levels. I am training myself not to go from a lower level up i.e. for example form a behaviour inferring an identity.
Helping overcome challenges in communication at work
This unit has helped me also to try to explore what are certain challenges at work. For example when some of my subordinates object to something. I am now starting to refrain from going to an identity level and saying “this person is difficult” etc. I am starting to try to explore from what level is he or her speaking – is it because the person does not feel / believe that he / she is treated as a professional because his/her opinion was not sought before? Is it because of a fear that he / she will not be comfortable doing something different? Is it because they lack the skill of doing or is it because they believe they do not know how go about it? Paying attention to such neurological levels is helping me and am sure will continue to help me more once I master their use even more.
This helps me to target the real issue and think about a solution on the appropriate level.
Paying attention to the culture persons have about their work and / or the situation they are in.
This helps me also because concentrating on my life-vision when going to work – to be able to help others and contribute towards a better generation – will transform all other lower levels and help me focus on the mission which motivates me. Seeing my work through that perspective.
It helps me also in working with clients and in training. It is interesting to note that in order to introduce change in a person and / or organisation you need to start from a higher level. As you have rightly said, we generally start training /helping form the level of skill / competence but we need to explore whether we need to start from the level of belief first; or else form the level of identity or indeed mission.
These lessons helped me to realise how the neurological levels show me how myself and others are structuring a problem and thus how this can be targeted to bring about the desired change and thus a successful outcome.