The 4 Critical Components of Neurolinguistic Programming

Filed under: NLP Techniques

NLP`4 Critical Components

by Mike Mandel

While NLP is a huge topic, if you master just these 4 areas you’ll be far ahead of most people who’ve taken exhaustive training. Ready to dive in?

NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming, is an amazing model of personal excellence and change. 

It can be used to remove a phobia, learn a new skill, create peak performance, and a host of other things. That’s because under the NLP umbrella, there are a ton of cool techniques that enable us to literally hack someone else’s (or our own) psychology and neurology. 

It’s an excellent and really useful model, but although it contains lots of techniques and concepts, four of them are considered to be indispensable for doing stellar change work. 

This blog post is inspired by one of our best Youtube videos about NLP. Watch it below:

About 20 years ago, while having lunch with NLP co-founder, Dr John Grinder, I was asked what the four most important NLP techniques were. I thought for a minute or two and came up with the ones I believed were critical. As it turns out … I was correct … and I’d like to share my answer (and reasons) with you.

The Meta Model in NLP is for Gathering Information

Virginia Satyr NLP Meta Model

The first one is the Meta Model, which is a method of using language in a very specific way to gather information. 

An example might be a client saying that his wife upsets him. The NLP practitioner would challenge that statement by asking the Meta Model question, How specifically? 

This kind of questioning gets rid of verbal fluff, and clarifies exactly what the person means. 

Another example might be someone saying that they can’t do something; get a new job, learn to sing, fix their life, whatever. In this case, the Meta Model challenge might be What prevents you? Or What would happen if you did? 

This kind of specific questioning uses language to clarify language. It helps us understand what’s known as the deep structure, which is not typically available to us, because we tend to think we know what the person means. 

The Meta Model is a great tool for understanding and interviewing our clients. It helps the client and the therapist access the real meaning that lies beneath the surface. 

Learn more: NLP Meta Model - The Language of Specificity

Rapport is for Relationships in NLP

NLP Rapport

The second crucial component is Rapport.

Rapport is something we intuitively understand. It’s that sense of connectedness that good friends have. Even entire groups can be in rapport with each other.

When we are in rapport with someone, we often use the same words, gesture the same as them, etc., because in NLP terms, we are sharing their model of the world. 

When we are out of rapport with someone, communication becomes difficult, and the sense of connectedness disappears too. For anyone doing therapy rapport is essential, because it’s the glue that holds the communication together. And for hypnotists, rapport smooths the way to trance induction.

Rapport can be created and maintained intentionally, by mirroring their body language, rate of speech, their breathing, and a host of other things. However, unless this is done subtly and with respect for the other person, it will be detected by their conscious mind and rapport will collapse.

Learn more: NLP Rapport - The Proverbial Glue to Honest Connection

Congruence Makes You Captivating

NLP Congruence

Have you ever noticed how great speakers and presenters are able to effortlessly hold an audience in the palm of their hand? It can seem as though their every word and gesture is compelling and authentic, as they weave their web of words.

Great speakers and teachers are congruent. 

They are sending one consistent message with their words, tone,  and gestures. Literally everything they say and do is aligned.

On the other hand, people who lack congruence are far less compelling in their speech and actions. We unconsciously detect that things are not aligned; perhaps their words are strong but their tone and mannerisms indicate doubt.

A classic example of incongruence is the stereotype of the sleazy salesperson, grinning and rubbing his hands in anticipation of ripping us off. The lack of honesty is implied by his lack of congruence. 

When you are congruent your body language, words, beliefs, tone, in short everything, will be sending the same consistent message. For therapists and coaches, congruence is a critical concept to create change or to motivate.

Calibration in NLP is All About Noticing Change

NLP Calibration

The fourth and final critical component of NLP is Calibration. 

To calibrate another person is to notice how they are sitting or standing, their facial expression, rate of speech, voice tone, etc. 

Calibration provides us with a baseline. Then when someone changes their behaviour from that baseline, we know that something has changed in their internal world too.

Social cues, which are different in every culture, are all based on calibration. We unconsciously notice if the person we’re interacting with is properly obeying the social cues that apply. 

For example, if we’re talking to someone and they turn their back on us, we assume they’re not interested in what we’re saying. 

And if they actually walk away, we know our assumption is correct!

This kind of calibration happens all the time, as we evaluate the verbal and none verbal behaviour of other people. Through diligent practice, we can sharpen our calibration skills to notice very subtle changes in our subject’s external behaviour.

For the therapist, counsellor, or social worker, this is a very useful skill. That’s because by monitoring our subject with our full attention, we can immediately notice when something has changed for the better...or for the worse.

When my late NLP Trainer, Derek Balmer, said “You can’t see what you can’t see”, he was talking about calibration. 

By developing strong calibration skills, we can recognize the feedback that our clients are always providing us with. Then we’ll know if what we’re doing is working or not.

But remember: Calibration is NOT Mind Reading.

The Acronym to Remember These is “MR.CC”

Seeing as these four components to NLP are so critical to your success, we came up with a handy acronym. Mister CC, or MR. CC. 

The acronym MR.CC is an easy way to remember the Meta Model, Rapport, Congruence, and Calibration.

By systematically applying these four concepts, you‘ll be able to interact with other people in a very powerful way, not just in the therapy room, but in your daily life as well.

Next: If you’d like to master the essentials of NLP in about 6 hours, click here.