NLP Q&A: Frustrated by NLP Trainings

11  comments

A few days ago, one of my readers – who we’ll name Charles – emailed me, feeling a bit frustrated with the dismal return on his time and monetary investment in NLP. I asked him if I could post our exchange here for your benefit. Perhaps you’ve been feeling as he has. His messages will be indented and posted in blue.

Charles:

I have read a lot about NLP. I have also practiced many of the techniques from the books. I have had minimal, at best, results from what I have learned. To date, I have NLP to be a very complicated technology only usable by those few who spent a fortune to attend live training courses. NLP, to me, seems more like a secret group of followers who promote NLP in order to get others to spend vast sums of money in order to become part of this secret society of practitioners and masters. I spent $200.00, back in 1987, so I could quit smoking. I went to a local NLP practitioner. I went from a pack and a half per day to 3 packs a day before the year ended. In 1992, I attended a live hypnosis session at a local hotel meeting room. There were about 12 of us in attendance. I paid $35.00 USD to sit through a brief talk. Before entering, I threw out 18 packs of cigarettes. We were asked to close our eyes and relax while the host played us a prerecorded hypnosis session. I sweat and shook for 4 days, but I never smoked again.

I don’t believe hypnosis or NLP had anything to do with me becoming a non-smoker. I think I had had enough and reinforced my efforts by throwing about $40.00 of cigarettes in the trash.

I must also admit that I am fascinated by the human mind and the hype or fantasy of NLP. I just cannot honestly say it is real or has worked for me.

I look forward to your email so I can observe your take on NLP. Thanks.

Here’s my reply:

Hi Charles,

Thank you for your message. It’s great to hear from you.

I’m really sorry your experience with NLP hasn’t been a thrill. I completely agree with you that, so far, it’s been made to be this panacea that requires massive investments in order to become proficient at it.

You wrote:

“NLP, to me, seems more like a secret group of followers who promote NLP in order to get others to spend vast sums of money in order to become part of this secret society of practitioners and masters.”

You’re dead on. It’s exactly what it’s become: cult-like. People get indoctrinated into this sect and become anointed as trainers.

The good news is that it has nothing to do with that. Once we’re able to see past the money-making gimmicks, the field brings a lot to the table. While it’s peddled as magic, in a way, it truly offers a concrete approach to bring the scientific method into our lives.

You wrote:

“I don’t believe hypnosis or NLP had anything to do with me becoming a non-smoker.”

Bingo! It really didn’t. While Pracs, Master Pracs and Trainers would like you to believe that, it’s not true. You were ready to change and pretty much any approach would have succeeded at the time.

NLP revolves around a simple idea: there’s a structure to how great performers produce results and we can decipher it. It provides a code, like HTML or C++, that allows anyone who knows it to see how human perception is structured.

The whole therapy bit misled everyone because Bandler and Grinder modeled therapists as their initial project.

The good news is that the code is easy to learn, provided it’s described simply.

There are also a few skills to develop. Skills such as observation, listening, calibrating, using your voice differently, etc. You’ll become proficient at them by practicing in the real world, not in seminar rooms.

Charles:

Hi Martin,

Thank you so much for your kind response and for not misunderstanding what I wrote or taking it personally. I was expressing my frustration. Thank you for understanding.

I wonder if others might feel as I do. I also wonder how others have been able to get beyond the hype, expense, and frustration and are able to learn, practice and apply the “mysterious” technology. Personally, I am still looking for the best, yet, least expensive way to best learn and apply NLP.

PS – I found great value in your reply.

Guys, NLP is simple. There’s no mystery to it. It’s been, in my opinion, poorly described and taught so far. In 2013, I want to make sure you get it. I want to make sure you’re equipped with the basic knowledge you need to go out in the world, explore and confidently develop your skills.

By email or in the comments below, let me know the answer to any or all of these questions:

  1. Where are you stuck?
  2. What’s unclear to you?
  3. What do you find p0orly explained?
  4. What’s confusing to you?
  5. What do you want to be able to do that you aren’t?
  6. What would you like to better understand?
  7. What skills do you find hard to build?

Cheers!

About the author 

Martin Messier

Martin Messier has been practicing NLP for 20 years. He was trained in NLP and Neuroassociative Conditioning by Master Trainer Rex Sikes and Tony Robbins. He holds a BA in Economics and International Studies and a Master's degree in International Political Economy.

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  • I could not agree more with the notion that there is a lot of commercial usury around NLP. My first introduction was with a very well known and wealthy individual in a large group setting. About all I got out of the four days was exhaustion and I walked on hot coals. The emphasis was around manipulating the audience into buying more training and products. I left it behind for 25 years.

    As a professional and executive coach, I began to explore different processes, technologies and techniques in order to provide coaching tailored to my clients and their map of the world. One of my University classes was about strategic inquiry….not called NLP and it was based on the Milton and Meta models. I also met a fantastic Master Trainer and began to expand my knowledge of NLP and now I am an Accredited Trainer myself. I see the value of NLP in working with clients to help them achieve,the,results and change they desire. I also see the value of integrating it with other processes. There is no one formula or magic pill..

    So much of what we see, hear and feel about the hype of NLP and Hypnosis is mis-interpreted as what the practitioner can do to you. The simple truth is that a GOOD practitioner knows how to unlock the answers within the client. And, everyone uses processes from NLP every day, we just don’t recognize them as such. And, the client has to be open and willing. Your reader was open when he threw away his cigarettes and the hypnosis installed new behaviors in the unconscious mind.

    As a trainer, I am able to bring NLP from the land of mystery and magic to the land of understanding and intension for my students and clients. It is our client who does the work and finds the answers when the techniques and processes are employed by a skilled practitioner. In fact, when the client believes the practitioner did nothing and yet they still get results, we have a touchdown because the work was truly from within.

    So, I think what is most missing and causing these concerns and reactions as with your reader is professional integrity and intension in employing NLP for the good of our clients, ingrained and integrated skills of the practitioner at an unconscious level and an open desire and intention of our clients to receive and participate in the process. If any one of these pieces is missing, results are unlikely.

    • Hello Laurel,

      Good to hear from you.

      You wrote:
      “The simple truth is that a GOOD practitioner knows how to unlock the answers within the client. And, everyone uses processes from NLP every day, we just don’t recognize them as such. And, the client has to be open and willing. Your reader was open when he threw away his cigarettes and the hypnosis installed new behaviors in the unconscious mind.”

      YES! It’s a critical distinction, one that isn’t sufficiently highlighted.

      You wrote:
      “It is our client who does the work and finds the answers when the techniques and processes are employed by a skilled practitioner.”

      The best we can do is facilitate the process and offer choices. The client may then identify the most appropriate path to follow.

      Thank you for writing. I look forward to hearing more from you!

  • Hi

    As I’m writing you I’m at a complete loss of what to do.

    I’ve been kicked so many times in the past but I’ve always got back up to start again. And one of the reasons I’ve done that is to achieve one of my ultimate goals, which is to be a very successful filmmaker. I’ve been to film school, worked in production companies until I got married then started a franchise. Lost everything in my 30’s including a divorce. The last few months have been extremely challenging to say the least. Lets put it this way I spent New Year’s eve and day finishing up an exam so I could have another job on top of the job I have so I could have enough money to pay the bills and still be able to keep writing, but just got an email to say I didn’t pass the exam. I’m naturally an optimist always coming up with solutions to keep moving me forward. But I just feel I’m not going anywhere with achieving my goals, with each stroke, I feel I’m being overpowered by another huge crashing wave. I look eveywhere and I see my colleagues and peers being successful. I’m a hardworker I have my goals and I’m a good person. How exactly can NLP help me achieve my goals?

    Yours sincerely
    Frustrated

    • Hello,

      From what you describe, you seem to be going through an extremely challenging phase of your life. What impresses me is your resiliency in moving through it and your commitment to your goal.

      The NLP toolkit can help you in several ways. Here are a few of them:
      1. You will learn how to ask several new questions, which unlock new answers.
      2. You will develop a set of skills that will expand your perception.
      3. You will pick up a new lens through which to look at the world – a new set of filters, if you will.
      4. You will sharpen your communication with others.

      What if you reviewed your goal? How happy is the journey towards your goal making you on a scale of 0 to 10?

      Cheers!

      • Hi Martin – Thanks for your reply. I have never used NLP before and so I don’t know how to. Will I have someone to guide me in my learning and how long does it take for one to see the effect?

        I have looked at my goal and I know that if I give up on it, I will be giving up on myself. This is the one thing I know that I see myself always doing and never retiring from.

        On a scale of 0-10 I will say right now 0, simply because I spend a lot of my energy and time thinking of ways to pay the bills rather than focusing on what I truly love doing and I know I can get really good at it and use as a vehicle to achieve other goals.

        Regards
        A

        • Hi A,

          You asked:
          “Will I have someone to guide me in my learning and how long does it take for one to see the effect?”

          I’ll give you a weird/funny answer. Your question is similar to this one: “Will I have someone to guide me in learning how to use a camera and how long does it take for one to see the effect?”

          You can definitely get someone to guide you. And there’s really not much of an effect besides the one you create for yourself. The best way to think of NLP is as a programming language/philosophy. Like C++. It’s a code that allows you to program human perception, states and behaviors.

          Another analogy: think of your sensations and perceptions as lego blocks. NLP offers a way of playing with them, assembling them, disassembling them, mixing them to produce states and behaviors you desire. You might create cool stuff. You might also create less cool stuff.

          Less like a pill that has an effect. More like a craft.

          Does that make sense to you?

          You wrote:
          “[…] I spend a lot of my energy and time thinking of ways to pay the bills rather than focusing on what I truly love doing and I know I can get really good at it and use as a vehicle to achieve other goals.”

          What would need to happen for you to be able to focus 100% on what you truly love doing?

          • Hi Martin,

            I truly appreciate you taking the time out to respond. Thank you.

            Yes I understand your illustration on how NLP works and how I can use it to reprogramm myself. Thank you. This is exactly what I need.

            In answer to your last question, I thought really hard about it and decided that its the uncertainty of having a contracted job, that makes me very nervous.

            • Hey there,

              You wrote:
              ” […] its the uncertainty of having a contracted job, that makes me very nervous.”

              When you speak of a contracted job, are you referring to film-making or the other jobs you find to pay the bills?

  • I noticed that NLP works when applied and when the exploration takes a step beyond learning to finesse.

    Being a practitioner is a segment of the whole moment. I realized that there are three segment of the NLP moment which are mastery and trainer. When the segments are
    Completed the process of integrated thinking will occur. NLP is a reflection of integrated thinking exactly like the owner is the dishwasher, cook, server and accountant. Yes, it is true flexibility is required with clients or the self. Yes, it is true experience is required to observe the results. It is also true that memorization shortens external referencing as the consulting process is revealed through the non conscious.

    Now, when the learning side steps conscious memory and moves into the implicate memory a feedback loop of resources is revealed.

    Of course outcome orientation allows the relevance to unfold.

    When the witness lens is self aware then the conscious moment is navigated and continues to evolve as each moment unfolds.

    The results reveal if the process of learning was focused in a conscious or non conscious process.

    • Hey Matthew,

      Thanks for the comment.

      You wrote:
      “when the learning side steps conscious memory and moves into the implicate memory a feedback loop of resources is revealed.”

      Could you elaborate on that? I don’t fully understand what you mean and would like to.

      Cheers!

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