What is Neuro-linguistic ProgrammingNLP is a powerful tool that, when used in conjunction with coaching can help create a powerful connection for the coachee. Before I go into how you can utilize NLP in coaching, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of what this practice is and what it means.

NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming

  • Neuro = brain
  • Linguistic = communication/speech
  • Programming = teaching the brain to organize information in a way that creates results

NLP is not an unfamiliar concept, even though the idea of including the brain in the coaching scenario might make it seem that way. Consider what you do each day as you go about your life.

You might program your phone to remind you of an appointment, for example. This phone, or the “brain” of your schedule, requires you to change the way it signals to you, or speaks with you, so you receive the desired result – a reminder about an appointment. Even though the process with your phone is very simple, it’s actually much more complicated when you consider the different ways in which the phone’s internal structure needs to communicate with other pieces. On the surface, it is simple for you as the user, but the actual changes taking place within the phone are much more complex.

NLP is much the same way. The tools used and the strategies implemented seem overly simple, but the impact they are having on the neuro pathways in the brain as it reorganizes the way you view your world is incredible.

Even though NLP was developed more than 30 years ago, it is a practice that combined with coaching leads to powerful results. The use of NLP with coaching as a method for growth and development not only makes sense, but these two strategies complement each other effectively. NLP is specifically designed and shown to help a client connect with underlying behaviors, beliefs, patterns and thoughts. Since a client is not aware of these subconscious patterns, they do not know to change them. And, unless they are guided to do so, a change will not occur. In traditional coaching, the surface ideas and patterns might change, through conversation and awareness, but the changes may not have a lasting impact because there is an undercurrent of old habits and beliefs that the person is still following.

It’s not that a client doesn’t desire change; however, when they don’t have the tools of NLP to assist them, they are often unable to make long term sustainable change. It is true that some people may discover ways to disrupt these patterns without NLP, but most will need the extra support.

NLP coaching skills can generate rapid results, when used appropriately. It is also specifically used for the patterns that most influence our behaviors, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Overwhelm
  • Indecision
  • Conflicting priorities
  • Motivation
  • Procrastination
  • Fear
  • Burnout

Everyone is impacted by these issues at some point in their lives, and some might find that they are constantly stuck in one or more of these patterns, no matter what they do. To support clients breaking free from sabotaging patterns, coaches trained in the use of NLP are able to assist clients in reprogramming the pathways of their brain. Most people will take time to learn how to program their new phone or ipad but reprogramming our brain is still a fairly new concept.

As a coach, you will form a partnership with your client that allows you to empower them to make the changes they need in both their personal and professional life – creating more of what they want. NLP coaching skills allows you to show them that these changes are not just temporary fixes, they create long-term sustainable results.

One of the biggest challenges you will face as a coach is clients who feel stuck. They know what they don’t like about their life or areas they are stuck in their career but they’re unclear of how to change things or they find themselves making changes that don’t stick. Why is this?

The simple answer is that people form these habits during their life. They learn how to react in a situation and they tend to stick with that action until it no longer serves them. For example, a person who has been emotionally abused in childhood may avoid confrontation now. Though they may not be in an abusive situation any more, deep down they may still fear that problem, so they keep their ideas and arguments to themselves. They limit their experience and ability to live fully in the world because of a behavior and a belief about how to protect themselves that served them well in the past. Since this is not something that serves them anymore, they need support to shift the old pathway that leads to an unconscious decision to act in a submissive way.

At Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLP (ALCN) we believe the tools of NLP and coaching help people not only shift old habits and structures, but also support them in living more fully in their everyday lives. We want to give our clients as many tools as possible to reprogram old limiting beliefs they have so they can move into living more authentic lives.


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