Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Neuro linguistic programming?

Another person's behavior can be duplicated by studying what that person does inside their head (language, filters, programs, etc.) to produce results. NLP was initially created in 1975 by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who began modeling and duplicating the "magical results" of a few top communicators and therapists. Some of the first people to be studied included hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, gestalt therapist Fritz Perls and family therapist Virginia Satir.
Using your brain is something we take for granted. You have to start using it long before you can be taught anything like a method for doing so. So how can you know that you went about learning to do these things most effectively? Are they instinctive, or 'hardwired'?

NLP practitioners believe that you give physical clues to the way you are thinking in various ways, particularly with eye movements. Not everyone is the same, but many people supposedly are as follows: if you are trying to remember how something looked or picture how something would look, you look upward. Remembering or imagining would have you looking straight ahead. Remembering or imagining a physical sensation leads the eyes downward. If you're remembering something, you might look to the left, but if you're imagining something you might look to the right.

So if you try to remember the last thing your lover said to you, you'd probably keep your eyes level and skewed to the left. If you pictured Yasser Arafat smoking Monica's famous cigar, you'd probably look upward and to the right.

An NLP expert watched kids taking a spelling test and accurately predicted who the best spellers were. How? He claimed to have observed clues about how the kids were thinking - where they sounding it out, or were they memorizing the way the word 'looked'? Not surprisingly, the latter group turned out to be far better spellers. Can things like this account for difference in performance in spelling, math, reading and others? Are people literally thinking about them the wrong way?

These things are very interesting to me because I am fascinated by human performance. Why doesn't Michael Jordan make every open shot? Why are we sharp some days and not on others? Why do some people take to a new dance step instantly while I look like Al Gore's choreographer? How can I play a guitar riff perfectly 50 times in a row and then foul it up? Why is there such a thing as 'aptitude'?

Maybe NLP can tell us why.

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