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NLP Modeling


One of the most important skills of NLP is modeling. It is the process of recreating excellence. By observing and copying the ways others achieve results, it’s easy to suggest and try out different approaches to see what works for us. We can model any human behavior by mastering the beliefs, the physiology and the specific thought processes (that is the strategies) that underlie the skill or behavior. It is about achieving an outcome by studying how someone else goes about it.


John Grinder co-founded the field of NLP with Richard Bandler. He was, in great part, responsible for the creation of the code of NLP. Bandler and Grinder first tried to model family therapist Virginia Satir to duplicate her strategies. They modelled the thinking strategies she was using rather than simply copy her behaviours.


Modeling involves transferring what an expert thinks they know and what they unconsciously know. It involves being able to produce the outcome and transferring the behavior to others.


There are 3 phases of modelling:


  • Observing the model

  • Find the difference that makes the difference

  • Design a method to teach the skill


Observing the model – in this phase, you imagine yourself in someone else’s reality; someone who demonstrates stellar performance. The focus is on “what” the person does (behavior and physiology), “how” they do it (internal thinking strategies) and “why” they do it (supporting beliefs and assumptions). You observe the model’s representational systems (our internal senses), strategies (sequence of mental representations), physiological components (like states and body postures), meta programs 9sorting and filtering processes), values and beliefs, Reference structures (the necessary background knowledge), etc.


Find the difference that makes the difference – In this phase, you model that person in order to create an explicit model of how (s)he produces those outstanding results. By systematically taking out elements of the model’s behavior, we can find what pieces are essential. If the process still works without that element, it is not relevant.


To find the difference, research the following questions –


  • What are the model’s behavioral patterns?

  • How the model achieves the results?

  • What does the model do differently from others?

  • What is the difference that makes the difference?

  • When you have all the answer, you can filter and sequence the model.


Design a method to teach the skill – You cannot model effectively until you have all the answers. Once you have everything, take all the learning that’s useful to use now and/or any appropriate time in the future. Exhibit all the useful attributes of your model.


The most important part is what you do after you go through these three phases – PRACTICE.


NLP Modeling is a powerful process that can accelerate learning of skills. Strong modeling practices are the basis of good NLP training.

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