Rules of NLP

The very first thing you should be taught when learning the psychological techniques of Neuro-Linguistic Programming are the pre-suppositions, or ‘rules’ as I like to call them.

These rules are the foundation on which any NLP practitioner must first build firmly in their mind. Many of these rules interlink and overlap.


Rule 1: Have respect for the other person’s model of the world.

We all have our own view of the world which must be respected without judgment. A person view of the world will be true for them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that their perception is helpful or a true reflection of reality.



Rule 2: The map is not the territory.

People make sense of the world a through sensory interpretation and from personal experience and this forms patterns of behaviour. However, these ‘patterns’ are not necessarily how things really are.

Rule 3: Mind and body form a linked system.

Your mental attitude affects your body and your health and, in turn, how you behave. Often, we want to change behaviours, however, it’s vital to investigate the mental attitude behind the behaviour.

Rule 4: If what you are doing isn’t working, do something else.

One of the ways NLP works is to provide flexibility in thought, beliefs and behaviours. This is the key to success.

Rule 5: Choice is better than no choice.

One of the main aims of NLP is to increase personal choice. Becoming psychologically and behaviourally flexible and adaptable increases options and provides opportunities for achieving results because you see more choices.

Rule 6: We are always communicating.

Even when we remain silent, we are communicating. Non-verbal communication accounts for the largest proportion of a message. To be able to ‘tune in’ to these subtle cues should be learnt.

Rule 7: The meaning of your communication is the response you get.

NLP teaches you the skills of rapport and artful communication to ensure what you say equals the message the other person receives.

Rule 8: There is no failure, only feedback.

This rule is not only key for the NLP practitioner but also for the person we are working with. If a technique didn’t work as well as expected, the practitioner should apply presupposition #4. The client must also recognise that set-backs in life are opportunities to learn (i.e. accessing presupposition #5).

Rule 9: Behind every behaviour there is a positive intention.

Even self-destructive behaviours are an attempt to gain a positive outcome. Everyone is trying to attain more happiness the best way they know how. NLP allows us to access more resourceful ways of doing things to get the positive outcome we are searching for.

Rule 10: Anything can be accomplished if the task is broken down into small enough steps.

Achievement becomes easier if activities are manageable; NLP can help you learn how to analyse what needs to be done and find ways to be both efficient and effective.

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