If NLP is modelling people, where are all the models? – An Overview

NLP Modelling is a complex set of skills. You learn the rudiments at Practitioner level and go into more depth during your NLP Master Practitioner.

Many more people learn these skills every year, so why aren’t there more NLP models around? Is modelling just a myth for the uninitiated?

The answer to this simple question is surprisingly complex – and probably not what you expect.

Here are the broad strokes.

First, a warning:

Unfortunately, while modelling is the key skill in NLP, there is plenty of disagreement within the field about how one should go about it. When rival factions denounce each others’ methods, it only serves to muddy the waters further.

Time to start at the beginning.

Let’s start with a definition:

Basically, modelling is “using a variety of investigative and observational methods to create a minimal working description of a skill demonstrated by a particular outstanding individual, or individuals.

In short, you’ll need to collect the procedures, standards, mental states and ‘mindset’ (among other things) of the person you want to model. And only those they use when doing the relevant skill.

Learning to model is an effort on the same scale as learning how to program a computer or learning to draw.

Sounds like a big job? It can be, if you need a really detailed model. However, that’s just the beginning.

There are more complications though.

Highly skilled individuals are rarely able to tell you all the exact steps you’ll need to do to be able to get results similar to theirs, because some of this process is not carried out consciously.

That’s where specific NLP skills of observation, questioning, study of movement and language become important, because this hidden information is recoverable.

Then you need to check the information you gathered actually works.

Paring away

Next, you’ll need to get rid of any part of your procedure which is not necessary. You should do this, even if you’ve built your model ‘from the ground up’, because the person you’re modelling is likely using a sub-optimal process.

(I realise that may seem like a pretty arrogant statement, but that process is actually where modelling gives something back to the person being modelled. And most processes yield to Pareto’s Principle anyway.)

All done?

Let’s assume you’ve arrived at a point where you have a streamlined model with high quality standards, thresholds and boundaries – and all the relevant enabling beliefs, states etc.

Let’s also assume it actually works – for you.

Now you need to translate it into a form where it can be taught to anyone else (NLPers say ‘installed’).

That’s a whole different job. Then you’re done.

Where are the resources?

This explains why there is so much conflicting information (and so many ‘bun-fights’ on NLP forums) about modelling. It’s actually a complicated and time-consuming technical process, rather than the ‘magic’ many people assume it is. So lots of people talk about it, but few actually do it.

Here are further reasons why there are so few NLP models available: NLP Modelling, Criticism and Scale

Learning NLP modelling?

Normally, I’d advise taking a good training. However, your mileage will vary greatly, so you need to do some fact-finding first before signing up with anyone.

Don’t just go with anyone who says they can NLP model – find someone who has created some actual models that you can see and test for yourself. Now, some models will be created as a ‘work for hire’ and will not be in the public domain. But there will be other evidence of an individual’s modelling skill.

You see, lots of people have the theory of NLP modelling – and haven’t actually modelled anything rigorously since they took their Master Practitioner training. And maybe not even then.

Just use good sense and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

It also explains why there are so few NLP models out there – few people will take the time to refine the skills needed, let alone do the modelling itself.

Why model?

Depending on what you wish to model, sometimes it’s worth it. Maybe you just need the broad strokes, or a small piece of the puzzle for some reason. Or maybe you have the time, skill and resources to create something worthy.

A good NLP model is a beautifully simple, elegant thing which gives you back more than it takes. That’s more than enough reason to take the time.

If NLP is modelling people, where are all the models? - An Overview by

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