Glossary of Common NLP Terms

Glossary Of Common NLP Terms

Accessing Cues: Behaviors that are correlated with the use of a particular representational system; e.g. eye movements, voice tones, postures, breathing, etc. (See Representational Systems.)

Anchor: A cue or trigger that elicits a response, similar to the stimulus response of classical conditioning. An anchor can be auditory, visual, kinesthetic or even spatial. (mental sticky notes).

“As If” Frame: To pretend that something is possible or completed and begin thinking with that in mind.

Associated: Being in an experience or memory as fully and completely as possible (with all the senses); looking out from one’s own eyes, hearing from one’s own ears, feeling one’s own feelings.

Auditory: The sense of hearing. (See “Representational Systems.”)

Backtrack: A spoken or written review or summary of information, usually to build/maintain rapport and to invite revision or correction.

Beliefs: Generalizations about yourself, other people and/or the world.

Break State: To change a person’s state dramatically. Usually used to pull someone out of an unpleasant state.

Behavioral Flexibility: The ability to vary one’s behavior in order to elicit a desired response from another person (in contrast to repeating a behavior that hasn’t worked).

Channel: One of the five senses – sight, sound, feeling, taste, and smell. (Also see “Representational Systems” or “Representational Modes”.)

Chunk Size: The size of the object, situation or experience being considered. This can be altered by chunking up to a more general category, chunking down to a more specific category, or chunking sideways or laterally to others of the same type of class.  For example, beginning with “car,” you could chunk down to a Ford or to a carburetor, chunk up to a “means of transportation,” and chunk sideways to a plane or train.

Congruent: When all of a person’s internal strategies, behaviors and parts are in agreement and working together coherently.

Content: An aspect of meta-programs that addresses the 5 domains – people, place, information, activities, and things.

Context: The environment within which a communication or response occurs. The context is one of the cues that elicit specific responses.

Context Reframing: Placing a “problem” response or behavior in a different context that gives it a new and different – usually more positive – meaning.

Counter-Example: An exception to a proposed general rule, a specific instance of the falsity of a universally quantified statement, e.g. any hard-working teenager is a counter-example to the statement, “All teenagers are lazy”.

Criteria: Standards for evaluation; qualities that can be applied to a wide range of specific behaviors or events.  Examples: fun, exciting, inexpensive, interesting, high quality, bold, practical, new, etc.

Deletion: The process of excluding portions of experience of the world from one's internal representations, and one's speech.

Disassociated: Being outside of an experience – looking at or trying on things from a “Observer” or 3rd position.

Distortion: Inaccurate reproduction of events in someone’s internal experience. Distortion in language refers to demonstrably inaccurate comments on any subject.

Domain: The 5 elements of meta-program “Content” – people, place, information, activities, and things.

Ecology: Considering the effects of a change on the larger system instead of on just one isolated behavior, part, or person, e.g. considering has explored how a specific outcome fits will support your beliefs, values, and important relationships.

Eye Accessing Cues: Unconscious movements of a person’s eyes that indicate the representational system being accessed. (See “Accessing Cues.”)

Feedback: The visual, auditory, kinesthetic information that comes back to you as as response to your behavior.

First Position (“Self”): Experiencing the world from your own perspective; being associated into yourself and your body.

Flexibility: Having more than one behavioral choice in a situation (See “Behavioral Flexibility.”).

Future Pace: Rehearsing in all systems so that a specific behavior or set of behaviors becomes linked and sequenced in response to the appropriate cues, so that it will occur naturally and automatically in future situations.

Generalization: Taking a specific situation or behavior and generalizing the content across contexts, as if it were a proven conclusion or fact, e.g. “That’s just the way human beings are”.

Generative or Evolutionary Intervention: An intervention that solves the presenting problem and also generates other changes that make the person’s life better in many other ways.

Gustatory: Referring to the sense of taste.  (See “Representational Systems.”)

Hallucination: An internal representation of, or about, the world that has no basis in present sensory experience.

Incongruent: When two or more of a person’s representations, parts, or programs are in conflict. Being “of two minds,” or “torn between two possibilities,” etc.

Intention: The underlying desire or goal of a behavior, assumed to be positive

Installation: Teaching or acquiring a new strategy or behavior, generally by rehearsal or future pacing.

Kinesthetic: The sense of feeling.  May be subdivided into tactile feelings (Kt: skin sensing physically feeling the outside world), proprioceptive feelings (Kp: movement, internal body sensations such as muscle tension or relaxation), and meta feelings (Km: “emotional” responses about some object, situation or experience). (See “Representational Systems.”)

Lead System (also known as Preferred Representational Channel): The representational system initially used to access stored information; e.g. making a visual image of a friend in order to get the feeling of liking him/her.

Lost Performative (Lost Performer): A linguistic pattern in which the person performing the action or judgment is missing from the sentence; e.g. “It’s important to know this.”

Map of Reality: A person’s perception of events.  (See “Representational Systems.”)

Matching: Matching/mirroring an aspect of one’s behavior (posture, tone of voice, breathing, etc) to that of another person, usually to establish rapport.

Meta Model: A set of language patterns that focuses attention on how people delete, distort, generalize, limit or specify their realities. It provides a series of outcome specification questions useful for making communication more specific, recovering lost or unspecified information, and for loosening rigid patterns of thinking.

Meta-Outcome: The outcome of the outcome:  one that is at a higher level and an outcome of greater importance than the stated one; e.g. “having financial security or freedom and independence” might be the meta-outcome of “finding a better job.

Metaphor: A story, parable or analogy that relates one situation, experience or phenomenon to another.

Meta-Program: A thought pattern based on generalization that the brain uses for efficiency. These patterns act as automatic filters that help us make decisions; they tell us what’s OK for someone and what’s not. Examples include: options/procedures, toward/away-from, proactive/reaction, general/specific, internal/external.

Mindreading: Imagining what someone else is thinking or feeling by asking yourself “What must be going on inside that person for that to be true?” and briefing going into second position with them to try on things from their point of view.

Mirroring: Matching an aspect of one’s behavior (posture, tone of voice, breathing, etc.) to that of another person, usually to establish rapport.

Modal Operators: Literally “Mode of operating.” A linguistic term for one or more of four broad categories of acting: desire, possibility, necessity, choice.

Modality: One of the five senses – sight, sound, feeling, taste and smell.  (See “Representational Systems.”)

Modeling: Observing and specifying how something happens, or how someone thinks or behaves, and then describing in detail or demonstrating the process for others so that they (or you) can learn to do it.

Motivation Direction (Meta-Program): A mental program that determines whether a person moves toward or away-from experiences.

Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP): The process of creating models of human excellence in which the usefulness, not the truthfulness, is the most important criterion for success. The study of subjective experience.

Nominalization: A linguistic term for the words which result from the process of taking actions (verbs) and converting them into things (nouns), which actually have no existence as things; e.g. you can’t put them in a wheelbarrow.  Examples of nominalizations are “love,” “freedom,” “happiness,” “respect,” “frustration,” etc.

Observer Position: A disassociated meta-position from which you can observe or review events, seeing yourself and others interact.

Olfactory: The sense of smell. (See “Representational Systems.”)

“Other” Position or Second Position: To step into someone else’s experience fully. (We don’t really use this terminology in the book.

Outcome: Desired goal or result. (Also see “Well Formed Outcome” and “Meta-Outcome.”)

Pacing: Matching or mirroring another person’s nonverbal and/or verbal behavior. Useful for gaining rapport. (See “Mirroring and Matching”.)

Paralanguage: How something is said – or, more accurately, how it is perceived to have been said. Separate from the words themselves, paralanguage (such as volume, inflection, speed, intensity, tone, rhythm, pitch) provides audible cues that may telegraph information about someone’s inner state and feelings. e.g. tone of voice can indicate sarcasm which the listener may find funny or hurtful.

Parts: A metaphoric term for different aspects of a person’s experience.  Parts are distinct from the specific behaviors adopted by the “parts” in order to get their positive outcomes.

Perceptual Filter: An attitude, bias, point of view, perspective or set of assumptions or presuppositions about the object, person or situation. This attitude “colors” all perceptions of the object, etc.

Perceptual Positions: The perceptual positions most commonly referred to are: First Position, when someone is in their own body experiencing things from their own senses and point of view; Second Position (also called “Other”) when someone is imagining what it’s like from another person’s view point and trying to “stand in their shoes”; and Third Position, (also called “Observer”) when someone is observing something from outside the self and/or situation in a neutral or objective way.

Predicates: Process words: words that express action or relationship with respect to a subject (verbs, adverbs and adjectives). The words may reflect the representational system being used or they may be non-specific; e.g. “That looks good,” “Sounds right to me,” “That feels fine”.

Preferred Representational System or “channel”: The representational system or mode which a person habitually uses to process information or experiences; usually the one in which the person can make the most detailed distinctions.

Presuppositions (In NLP): Unifying beliefs of key individuals (Perls, Satir, Erickson, and Feldenkrais) who were studied to form the operating principles of NLP.

Rapport: A condition in which responsiveness has been established, often described as feeling safe or trusting, or willing.

Reframing: A process by which a person’s perception of a specific event or behavior is altered, resulting in a different response.  Usually subdivided into Context Reframing, Meaning Reframing and Six Step Reframing.

Representational Systems: The internal representations of experience in the five senses:  seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), feeling (kinesthetic), tasting (gustatory) and smelling (olfactory).

Resources: A piece of knowledge, an understanding about the world, a belief, a behavior, a skill, a person or an object, which contributes to the achievement of an outcome. When creating a Well-Formed Outcome, resources could also include: time, money, support, etc.

Resource State:  The experience of a useful response: an ability, attitude, behavior, characteristic, perspective or quality that is useful in some context.

Second Position (“Other”): To “become” someone else fully by taking the perspective and the criteria and history, etc. of someone else – trying things on from their point of view, walking in their moccasins.

Self Position: Experiencing the world from your own perspective; being associated into yourself and your body.

Sensory Acuity: The ability to make sensory discriminations to identify distinctions between different states or events.

Sensory based: Information which is correlated with what has been perceived by the five senses.  (Contrast with “Hallucinations.”)

Sensory Modalities: The five senses – sight, sound, feeling, taste, and smell.

Separator State or Break State: Eliciting a neutral state between two other states to prevent them from combining or connecting with each other.

Six Step Reframing: A process in which the “part” (or parts) responsible for an undesirable behavior is contacted directly, the positive intention driving the behavior is uncovered, and new choices to satisfy that intention are created, resulting in an integration of a conflicts or conflicting parts. Also used to resolve interpersonal conflicts, especially on work teams.

State: A state of being, or a condition of body/mind response or experience at a particular moment.

Stimulus-Response: The repeated association between an experience and a particular response (Pavlovian conditioning) such that the stimulus becomes a trigger or cue for the response, e.g. accidental and intentional anchoring

Strategy: A sequence of mental and behavioral representations that leads to a specific outcome; e.g. decision, learning, motivation, specific skills.

Sub-modalities: The smaller elements within a representational system; e.g. a visual image can be bright, dim, clear, fuzzy, moving, still, large, small, etc.

Swish: A generative sub-modality pattern used to change habits and responses.

Third Position (“Observer”): A disassociated position from which someone can more objectively or neutrally observe or review events, seeing yourself and others interact.

Universal Quantifier: A linguistic term for words which are applied to all cases and all situations without exception; e.g. “all,” “every,” “always,” and negations such as “never,” “none,” etc.

Visual: The sense of seeing.  (See “Representational Systems.”)

Well-Formed Outcome: A goal that is stated in positive terms, obtainable, chunked down appropriately, within the individual’s control and contextualized and helps satisfy yours or someone else’s outcome.


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