What are the NLP Presuppositions?

NLP has a certain number of assumptions or starting points. They can be considered as several basic principles that automatically implement and respect when working with NLP

Each behaviour was the best choice an individual had at that particular time.

This NLP principle is everyone is doing their best with the tools they have available at that particular moment. This principle also has to do with the next presupposition about always having a positive intention.

Behind every behaviour lies a positive intention.

The positive intention of this behaviour could be to feel a connection or to be heard. Instead of condemning someone, enquire the person what to be achieved with this behaviour? What value(s) does the person want to fulfil? The person could then come up with new choices that could fulfil the intention of being ‘social’.

There is no such thing as failure.

Only feedback exists. Life teaches us using our mistakes. If you make a mistake, ask yourself what you have to learn from it. Accept these lessons humbly and gratefully. This way you grow a lot more.

The meaning of the message is the response that follows.

This means that you have to measure whether you have communicated well, by checking whether the message has got through to the other party correctly, and you are responsible for the correct transfer. If the other party misunderstood it, while you still explained it in such perfect terms according to yourself, then you still should not blame the other party. Instead, you should attribute the blame to the communication method you had chosen. 

If what you do doesn’t work, test something different

This is the TOTE (Test Operate Test Exit) philosophy. You test every time (for example by inquiring whether something has worked), and if it has not produced the desired result, you test something else. This presupposes an attitude of curiosity, flexibility and willingness to experiment!

The individual with the most flexibility wins: live with options

This has to do with the previous assumption of NLP (no.5). The people who get the most out of life are people who have options and know that they always have options. Always maintain the freedom of having options, such as having a choice in how you feel. This is flexibility. Proactive people live with options.

The map is not the territory & Perception is a projection

How we ‘represent’ (see) the world is merely our interpretation. It is our image of reality, and we act and think accordingly. The words we use are not the same as the event or object they represent. The tragedy is that if everyone had adhered to this simple principle, there would have been no (religious) violence. People were murdered for this in the past: putting the truth into words. If you believe that only your model of the world is truthful, you apply it through the ego. You are the truth. Don’t look for it outside of you. Connect to it. Then all your actions and relationships will reflect unity with all the life you experience deep inside. That is love.

Respect the model (map/representation) of the world of another person

Your view is your reality. That goes for everyone. Drop your prejudices and delve into the other person’s model of the world. Your model of the world is never the truth: it is always different from reality.

You can not communicate/manipulate

People can communicate on two levels: a conscious level and an unconscious level. Even if you don’t say anything, your body will tell you something. You cannot manipulate. When you live, speak and breathe, you already manipulate automatically.

Everyone already has all the needed resources available to achieve the desired results (If someone else can do it, I can do it)

Adopting the NLP assumption leads to a healthy attitude of experimentation and interest in another person’s behaviour and abilities.

There are no incapable people, only incapable states (states of mind/moods)

With the right state (and the right action) you can get ahead. Additionally, a person’s behaviour is not who the person is. Accept the person, not necessarily the behaviour.

Resistance on the part of the person you’re dealing with is a sign of a lack of rapport and flexibility.

Effective communicators accept and use all the communication they are presented with. This is called utilization, which is perfect when dealing with ‘resistance’. ‘Resistance’ is a sign of a lack of rapport.

Behaviour and change should be evaluated in their context and ecology

Resistance from a client is a sign of a lack of ecology. People are not their behaviour: accept the person, work on the behaviour.

The body is the mind

When you have a fit body, you automatically have a fit mind and vice versa.

Work with structure, not content

You can’t change anything about what happened to it.  However, you can influence how you deal with it: the structure of your experience.

Content is: What is being said? What has happened? What is seen, heard or felt (in a representation).

Structure/process is: How it is said. How it is experienced. The submodalities of a representation

The past is not equal to the future.

In every new situation, you have the option to do something different from what you have done in the past.