NLP Distance Learning

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Another Distance Learning Example

An example of my interactions with a student working through the module on language patterns.

Question 4

To challenge the language patterns in the following statements what questions would you ask?

Student: I would first consider if it is a Deletion a Generalisation or a Distortion

a) I can’t change the way I am – this a limiter – generalisation – and I would ask “do you want to change and if so what specifically would you change?”

Sue: or just “how do you know that you can’t change”.. just explore what is there.. no need to jump ahead too much.. I sense a work hard pattern in you… and that is not always the answer!!

b) No one can help me – this is a vague subject – deletion – and I would ask “what help would you like and from whom?”

Sue: this is an example of a generalisation – ‘no-one’ and a limiter/stopper. You could ask the question “No-one” or “Is there anyone who might help you or who has helped you in the past?”

c) I know they’ll think I’m nervous – this is an opinion as fact – deletion – I would ask “what will make them think you are nervous”.

Sue: Avoid the expression ‘make you or make me’ it presupposes that things or people do make you something whereas what we are promoting is that it is only you who makes you anything and rather than a make… prefer to choose… better to say “How do you know that they will think you are nervous?”

d) He did it deliberately – This is a presumption – deletion – and I would ask “who did what and what makes you think it was deliberate?”

Sue: same feedback as for the previous question. “How do you know?”….rather than what makes you ….

e) I am annoyed because you are late – this is a Blamer – distortion – and I would ask “how does my being late make you angry?”

Sue: Yes

f) There is only one way to give feedback constructively – this is an opinion of fact and a vague subject– Distortion & interpretation – and I would ask “in whose opinion?”

Sue: Yes…

g) My staff don’t respond to my directions – this is a vague subject – deletion – “which staff members in particular and what directions are they not responding to, how do you want them to respond”

Sue: Yes you are getting into the swing of this now…

h) This relationship isn’t what it should be – this is a vague subject and abstraction – deletions – and I would ask “Whose relationship/ not what it should be .. in what way?” Sue: Yes
i) I’m upset – this is a vague subject – deletion – and I would ask “what has happened to make you feel upset ?”

Sue: note the ‘make you’ in your response… you have used this structure in earlier examples too! What might you ask instead?

j) You upset me – this is a blamer – generalisation – and I would ask “How do you believe I did that?” Sue: Yes – challenging the blame

E-mail to Sue feedback from one of the students on what they think of the work and the feedback that they have had to date with Sue’s comments on that.

  • The work has been very interesting and I am enjoying putting the things that I have learnt to use into every day life. I get frustrated by my inability to apply myself to it sometimes – I pour a glass of wine and switch on the telly or go out visiting friends instead of getting on with my course work. I use the “its too late or I am too tired to start excuse all too often..

Sue: Interesting how you delete the ‘I’ in your comment here.. as if those things just happen independently of you..!

  • I seem to get most of the work done on the train when out on research visits. Perhaps I should build this into my work load at work – staying in the office for an hour after I finish work at 5.30. Sue: longer than what!! would be very productive and I would miss all the traffic.!!
  • The feed back has been very useful suggesting that I revisit the goal setting part of module 2 proved to be very enlightening and I see this as a positive way to make and set goals. Better than what!! way to set goals in the past I have used the SMART goals ideas..

Email sue with my learning from the work and feedback on module 2

  • This is pretty much as above the goal setting part proved a real challenge I just couldn’t get it, then last night the penny dropped and I think I got it – currently awaiting feed back with some trepidation as it only went off this morning.

Sue: You are getting it.. what I am suggesting are refinements… when you get it of course you may find that you have achieved all that you want!!

Write down and send to Sue a challenge that you face in work or life today and note the language patterns used in the way that I describe it.

Challenges that I face:

At work — Having built up a really good team that works well together and gets the required results one of the team members – one person A is going off in November on maternity leave. We have been very concerned that we won’t find anyone to replace her whilst she is off – she does intend to come back and we have a return to work date. But people tend to say that they are going to return then life takes over and they don’t come back.-

I need to set time aside to ensure that the person stepping into A’s shoes is going to give us the require results without too much of a down turn in appointments which will slow down the start of the new year. We had a good start last year because we were able to put systems in place that would enable us to be more efficient and effective.

To write this I had to try really hard to write it as I would have written it before reading this chapter. I am only part way through the daily looking for examples of language so will come back to it in a week or so to re write it.

Student’s comments on her own writing above: This is very interesting, having read the goal setting along with the language module I realise that I am generalising and using Distortions and deletions. Here is a better way of writing the passage (in my opinion!)

Challenges at work:

A, one of the girls in my team is going to have a baby so she is taking maternity leave from November till August. A’s role is pivotal to the way we manage our day to day so I am in the process of identifying someone who can pick up and run with what she has been doing. We have time to do this as A is clearly giving us plenty of warning that she is taking leave so we have started interviewing candidates for the role who are able to learn quickly from A and will be able to either continue in the role if A decides not to return or can take another role within the team if one is available at the time.

I am working with A to devise a plan that will enable her to pass her role over to the new person effectively and enable them both to feel part of the team.. We are building time into my diary where necessary to enable this new person to fit an as quickly as possible and learn as much as possible as quickly as possible about the roles of other within the team.

We had a good start to the year because of the team and systems we had in place at the end of the previous year. We fully intend to replicate that with the new team.

Sue: This is a great example of how when you change your language and state the effect is so profound… this read so differently… it had an ease about it and the sense of real possibility. Great example…


Take one language pattern each day and note when you hear or read that language pattern that day

Vague Subjects

It’s interesting in that since I have been looking for this I see it more and more every day. At work, at home and on the TV /radio etc. That statement in itself is quite vague due to the fact that the number of times a vague subject is used is too numerous to mention.

Some examples are:

A told a prospective franchisee today she will get hold of B for him. How and why will she do this?

Sue: NLP is less concerned with the Why…

Nobody can contact Ian – and my question was “who exactly has been trying?”

My husband is having a problem getting repairs dealt with via a local garage that the company bought a second hand van from. He said today “they are all the same, they take your money and that’s it they don’t want to know after that.” My thought was – “Who are all the same -the same as who?” (comparison)

They always overtake in the wrong lane on this roundabout

Possible question is “who does and always? This could also be an opinion of fact?

Z (colleague) on telephone. “You know what people are like.” Example of generalisation and mindreading and deletion.

Vague Actions

M said this morning to me “B gave me a black look”

(What is a black look? – What did you interpret the look to mean? What made you interpret it that way)


On the radio Terry Wogan said something was large – then said compared to what.

My colleague A said We are doing really well?

(Compared to what? – Last year or previous months?)

D said our news letter is very good. – Compared to what – he has said the last 3 are all very good? –


A said today “one of these days I am going to cost you people a sale because I don’t agree with you continually putting people who haven’t been on training through to me ”

The question here would be – How would he do that and what would be his reasoning behind this.

Sue: it is rare that with NLP you would explore the problem state.. more likely to explore the desired state Again you rarely find Why questions… in NLP.. It is so much more about How…do you understand the principle behind that?

A told B she had a difficult conversation with a customer. – “Who was the customer and in what way was the conversation difficult?”

Opinions as Fact

E said today “The photocopier is useless”

A said “this system is difficult to back up.” “According to whom?”

What makes it difficult to do?

Universal Statements

I said today every thing I do is taking twice as long as it should because everyone keeps ringing me.

Who exactly is ringing and which jobs took twice as long as normal and Everything!!?

Stoppers and Limiters

I had an interesting conversation with a prospective franchisee today. He said I can’t a number of times but did follow it up with because. However he sometimes hadn’t thought the whole thing through. He didn’t have the qualifications to do something but when asked why he didn’t take the exams he didn’t really know why not.


A said today “the company we hire our cars through is useless, they don’t take any notice of simple instructions and make me really cross”

Who in particular doesn’t take any notice and what instructions are they not following? What exactly do they do that makes you feel angry?

Sue: Or how do they MAKE you cross… it is this bit that you are challenging for her to realise that it is SHE that makes her cross…OK


An interviewee was asking about the type of person we are looking for and said “I don’t like to stay in one place for long and you will be looking for people who like to be office based. – Wrong –

Another one said as our financial services business


Assuming that you know the reason why some one has done something linking 2 statements together .i.e. I know that you are angry with me because you slammed the door

Describe my experience of paying attention to the language patterns and any effects this had on me as a result of questioning some of these patterns.

Doing this exercise has been very interesting and useful to me and my team. Each day at work, I have explained, as part of our morning meeting what the type of language we are looking for today. This has made the whole thing a task for us all each day. The girls have been great at pointing out examples and finding other ways of explaining things to alter their language patterns. I noticed today a couple of times I used statements of fact and vague language so I know that I am beginning to recognise these types of language patterns.

These are wonderfully specific transforming examples …. (according to me!).. I enjoyed reading them….