NLP Presuppositions Technique

The presuppositions of NLP (NLP Presuppositions) are otherwise known as convenient assumptions or beliefs, things that are plausible and generally good to assume. They form the bedrock for NLP in terms of helping relationships, improving communication and gaining the right mindsets for creating excellence.

NLP professionals adopt the NLP Presuppositions into their thinking to gain empowerment and also to enable them to coach and work with others in the best possible way to achieve their objectives.

The word presupposition contains a clue to their meaning. “Just imagine if this were true”. ‘Let’s presuppose that this is the case.” EG Just imagine if everyone had respect for the other persons model of the world. The world would be a better place, wouldn’t it? It is possible for us to do and it would improve relationships.

Key principles of NLP Presuppositions
Just imagine for a minute “What frame of mind would it be best to have towards life and other people in order to be happier, more successful and kinder towards others (better to know)?”

Is it better to feel empowered or at the mercy of other people and events in life? Whenever we complain about things that happen to us and about the actions of others then we pass over our personal power to them. The NLP presuppositions help us to retain our power and use it kindly towards others.

We all have the power within to change how we think and act to get better results. NLP Presuppositions act as mind tattoos and guide our thinking towards being better human beings!

Here is an interesting one: Assume that it is true that the mind and body affect each other. Could you be kinder to yourself in your thoughts? How about if you could stimulate, even activate your own immune system, would that be useful? Assuming the belief (and it may be true) will make you feel better, more empowered, like you can make a difference – all of this will help you feel better about yourself.

The NLP Presuppositions are useful to apply to negative thinking. Whether the thinking is to do with self or towards others, just think “Which one of these could I apply to my thinking to improve it?” – This is called a re-frame and is a really useful resource.

These are the Presuppositions of NLP:
Respect for the other persons model of the world.
The meaning of the communication is not simply what you intend, but also the response that you get.
The mind and body affect each other.
People respond to their experience, not to reality itself. The map is not the territory.
Every behaviour has a positive intention. Everyone is doing the best that they can with the resources they have available. People make the best choice they can at the time.
Behaviour is geared towards adaptation.
Accept the person; change the behaviour.
Behaviour and change are to be evaluated in terms of context and ecology.
People have all the resources that they need to make the changes that they want. We already have all the resources we need or we can create them. There are no unresourceful people, only unresourceful states.
Possible in the world and possible for me is only a matter of how.
The system (person) with the most flexibility (choices) of behaviour will have the most influence on the system.
This is the Law of Requisite Variety
There is no failure, only feedback.
There are no resistant clients, only inflexible communicators.
Having choice is better than not having choice. All procedures should be designed to increase choice and develop greater personal flexibility.
All procedures should increase wholeness.
Presupposition of NLP

We have visually animated instruction to put all of these NLP Presuppositions into context and to show you how you may chose to adopt them in our NLP Training material. You can access this material online in our NLP online training centre.


Examples of NLP Presuppositions in use
Respect for the other persons model of the world
I recently stayed with my sister. She has a very different perspective on things to me, from her parenting style through to her attitude to food and waste.

Whereas in the past I may have been quite judgemental and tried to impose my views on her, since taking the NLP Practitioner training I have been able to step back, and respect her views and perspectives. I am also able to think about her ecology and “reach” her at her place not mine.


The meaning of communication is not simply what you intend, but also the response that you get
This presupposition has been with me a lot since my Practitioner training. As I have also been developing my business, I have been very aware of my communication style and the Rapport I build with people. I have also improved my written communications (especially social media posts) trying to really think about how others will receive the communication rather than on just what I want to say. Trying to concisely explain “what NLP is” was one of many challenges in this area and I feel that I’m seeing significant improvement.


The mind and body affect each other
I always knew my mind and body work as one, but since the Practitioner training I have been more self-aware and attuned to my own body changes. For example before I give a presentation I always suffer from nerve sweats beforehand. I also get a dry mouth and it can feel like a forget to breath, I sometimes run out of breath mid-sentence and have to take a big gulp.

Being more aware of this on a conscious level helps me to be more accepting and take control. I give myself some calm time before a stressful situation which has really helped.

Since the practitioner training, I have also developed heightened awareness of others and am able to notice their unconscious ticks and idiosyncrasies which has also helped with my communication and rapport building.


During a 1-2-1 at work with a member of my development team, the topic of health came up. My colleague said that he often felt tired and had little energy.

He said he’d been to see his GP, who, after running a few tests, declared there was nothing medically wrong.

However, he was still suffering and said he just felt exhausted from the moment he woke every morning.

I asked him what sort of thoughts he had when he woke up every day?

My colleague has a young family and both he and his partner have full-time jobs, so they lead a very busy life and, in his words, mornings are a complete nightmare of trying to make sure everyone is fed, dressed and out the door in time to get to school and work. So, he admitted his first thoughts when waking were usually, “Oh great! Another day of stress!”, “I’m so tired, I don’t know how I’ll get through the day”, “I ache all over, I’m sure I’m coming down with something.”

I explained the impact our self-talk has on our physical bodies and how the unconscious mind accepts, without question, whatever instructions it receives. So if it is constantly told, “I’m tired, I’ve got no energy”, that’s exactly what it will manifest in the physical body.

I asked him if he would try giving himself more positive messages when he woke every day and gave him a list of positive questions to answers (from the NLP Practitioner course) such as “What am I grateful for in my life now?”, “What can I be curious about in my life today?”, “What am I proud of in my life now?”

At our next 1-2-1, two weeks later, he reported feeling far more energetic (and grateful for what he had in his life!) He has fully committed to using the questions every day and, after being slightly sceptical, now completely supports the theory that mind and body are connected.


People have all the resources that they need to make the changes that they want
I love this presupposition and it’s one that I quote often with my coaching clients, friends and colleagues. I am sure that this has also underpinned my growing confidence through the Practitioner training which is continuing through my Master Practitioner training.


People respond to their experience, not to reality itself. The map is not the territory
I have frequently used the NLP communication model with coachees and friends since doing the NLP Practitioner training. This has been an invaluable tool and I find a really easy way of explaining why we all have different views of the world and behaviours and also how we have all the resources we need to change these behaviours.


There is no failure, only feedback
My son is very interested in psychology and is in the final year of his psychology GCSE. He usually scores very highly in his exams, but the other week he was distraught when he “failed” a mock paper. It was on a specific area of psychology and he had revised it well before the exam, so was at a complete loss as to what to do, as well as beating himself up for not passing!

I talked with him about the NLP presupposition of “there is no failure only feedback’.

I explained that what had happened was not a failure but provided valuable lessons as to how to pass the exam. I also said that labelling it as a “failure” was not helpful as this caused him stress, dented his pride, and generated some anger in him at the “stupid” test!

Labelling it as feedback enabled him to remove the emotion, look more closely at where he had scored lowly and then come up with a plan to improve his score. Interestingly, he then, without being prompted by me, used modelling! His friend had done really well in the exam, so he spent some time with her to understand exactly how she had done that and the answering techniques she’d used!


Accept the person, change the behaviour
I am working with someone in my team who is under performing. He is going through a HR process called a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

Without going into the specifics, the under performance is related to behaviours and not competency.

His behaviours are causing issue with other team members and many consider him to be rude and hence don’t want to work with him. The presupposition of accepting the person and changing the behaviour is really important in this scenario – both for me and the rest of my team.

The reason for this is it is very easy to judge this person based on his behaviour. However, using another NLP presupposition, every action has a positive intention, he must gain something from behaving in the way that he does.

As his manager it is critical that I accept him for who he is and work on changing the behaviour. I have explained this to him in our meetings and it has really helped us focus on where he needs to improve and what behaviours he needs to change as opposed to him viewing this as a personal criticism.

For my team, I have used the presupposition to reinforce the message that they should not judge him as a person because they don’t agree with his behaviours. The PIP is progressing well, he is improving his behaviours and my team are more tolerant of him.


The system (person) with the most flexibility (choices) of behaviour will have the most influence on the system.
A colleague from school, a young PE teacher, was unsure as to whether or not to apply for the upcoming position of Head of Department.

I knew he lacked confidence and was unsure of his knowledge base so I decided, over a couple of weeks, to coach him to become more up to speed on his understanding of the PE curriculum from a management perspective and at the same time increase his confidence by practicing mock interviews.

Realizing that he had gained confidence and had a strategic knowledge base which could affect positive change for the school he decided to apply for the post and subsequently got it as a shared job role.

In essence, he had understood the presupposition that “the person or element with the most flexibility in a group or system will have the most influence.”

By improving his confidence via exercises such as interview techniques and learning about strategic management helped him to gain the ‘most flexibility’.

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relating to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

What is NLP?

In simple terms, Neuro Linguistic programming (NLP) is a series of models, techniques and strategies to help us better understand how the language we use influences the way we think and the results we get!

How can I benefit from using NLP?

NLP can have a positive effect on every aspect of your life. It can be used to move forward with some specific challenge or issue, or can be adopted more generically to make a difference to all areas of your life.

ANLP has many case studies and success stories detailing how NLP has helped clients, organisations and educational establishments with specific challenges over the years.

How does NLP work?

Have you ever done something so elegantly and effectively that it took your breath away? Have you had times where you were delighted at what you did and wondered how you did it?

NLP shows you how to understand and model your own successes, so that you can reproduce them. It is a way of discovering and unfolding your personal genius, a way of bringing out the best in yourself and others.

NLP is the study of excellence. It is the study of both the conscious and unconscious processes that combine to enable people to do what they do. The key to success is often unknown at a conscious level. Using NLP, you can elicit these unknown pieces.

You may want to improve your relationships, or eliminate an anxiety, or become more competitive in the market place. The key pieces are not found in the muscles, but in your inner thoughts, like words or pictures, or feelings or even beliefs. Once you know these unknown pieces you can change them. NLP exercises are like thought experiments, mental exercises or a game. The laboratory is your mind.

How did NLP develop?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming was first defined by Dr Richard Bandler (a Mathematician) and John Grinder (an Associate Professor of Linguistics) working together at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the early 1970s at a time of rapid development in the humanities field.

They asked the important question "What is it that makes the difference between somebody who is merely competent and someone who excels at the same skill?" and decided to model various people in order to discover the answers. It just so happens that the three people they chose to model were the outstanding therapists, Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy), Virginia Satir (Family Therapy) and Milton Erickson (world renowned psychiatrist who gave his name to a form of hypnosis). They could just as easily have modelled outstanding businessmen or scientists.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder modelled their language, physiology and mental processes and then identified patterns (rather than theories) which could be explicitly taught. NLP also drew on many existing fields of study including the work of Chomsky in linguistics, of Korsybski in general semantics, Ashby in systems thinking and many, many others.

Do I need an NLP trainer or an NLP professional?

That depends on what you hope to achieve.

If you would like one to one support to achieve a specific goal or deal with a particular challenge in your life, then you may like to consider visiting an NLP professional (a Practitioner or Master Practitioner).

If you would like to learn more about NLP, either for your own personal development or because you are considering a career change or additional career, then you are looking for an NLP trainer. You can then attend some NLP training and become a qualified Practitioner yourself.

How do I choose a good NLP professional?

For starters, make sure any NLP professional you are considering working with belongs to the Professional Body, so you have something to fall back on and they have a self-regulatory framework to base their business upon.

ANLP offers you impartial guidance on choosing either an NLP professional or an NLP trainer and strongly advises that you do your due diligence before engaging their services.

How much does an NLP session cost?

The cost of an NLP session will vary depending on whether you are having a 1-2-1, group or a training session as part of a longer course. Prices will also vary based on the skill and specialization of the Practitioner… a single session may be as little as £50 and a course can be over £3,000.

We recommend you use our ANLP resources to select the right NLP professional for you and that you understand how much you will be charged per session or for the course before you commit.

By searching on our site and using an ANLP Member, you will be assured that the person you select is qualified, as they state on their profile, as either an NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner, Trainer, or ANLP Accredited Trainer from an ANLP-recognised NLP School.

NOTE: If you are looking for NLP training and to learn NLP as a practitioner, we do NOT recommend that you use online courses to learn NLP as the quality and depth of training offered is, in our professional opinion, not adequate to certify you as an NLP practitioner with ANLP. As the internationally recognized, independent body of NLP Professionals, ANLP does not endorse or recognize ANY online-only NLP courses.

Where do I start?

If you are interested in engaging an NLP professional to support you through a particular issue, then we suggest you start by looking at our guide for choosing a good NLP professional.

If you are wondering if NLP is a good fit for your organization or workplace, then start by reading our guide for using NLP at work.

If you are thinking about training in NLP for yourself, then start by looking at our guide for choosing a good NLP trainer.

If you are curious and want to know a bit more about NLP before diving in, then do have a look at our case studies and recommended book list, both of which can help you to make informed decisions about whether or not NLP is right for you.

Is there any research to prove NLP works?

For many years, there was very little research around NLP. That is changing and there is a growing body of evidence to support the roots of NLP practice and various specific strategies and techniques used within NLP practices.

There is also a growing body of research particularly in the education field, funded by the Education Development Trust (formerly CfBT). We feature their research papers, and others, on our Research Pages.

The first NLP Research Journal was published by NLPEA  in 2009 and was launched at the House of Commons in January 2010.

In the States, the Research and Recognition Project focuses on PTSD and trauma protocols and continues to campaign for funded research into these particular areas.

What about online courses in NLP?

We think online courses, in NLP, such as Udemy, are one of many great ways to discover more about NLP and what it can do for you...

We also strongly believe that if you have more than a passing interest in NLP and want to use it to build your own practice or enhance existing client-led services, it is so important to learn your NLP practice face to face, in a live training environment and dealing with real people.

NLP is an experiential subject and practicing NLP is an essential part of any certification when you want to work with others.

There is a big difference between 'online' courses and 'virtual' courses. Due to the pandemic in 2020, NLPEA's Accreditation panel and advisors explored ways of safely delivering NLP training in a virtual setting, resulting in the ANLP Criteria for Virtual Training. If your NLP Training meets all these live training requirements, you can still apply for membership of NLPEA.

What is NLP


What is NLP


What is NLP



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