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NLP Glossary

TermDescription / Related links
Accessing CuesExternal signs that give us information about what we do inside. The signs include breathing, gestures, posture, and eye patterns.
'As-If' FrameThis is “acting as if” something were true. I.E.: Pretending that you are competent at something that you are not, like tennis. The idea is that the pretence will increase your capability.
Analogue(As opposed to Digital) Analogue distinctions have discrete variations, as in an analogue watch.
AnchoringThe NLP Technique whereby a stimulus is linked to a response. An Anchor can be intentional or naturally occurring.
- See NLP Anchoring
- See the circle of excellence
AssociatedIt deals with your relationship to an experience. In a memory, for example, you are associated when you are looking through your own eyes, and experiencing the auditory and kinaesthetic at the same time.
AuditoryHearing
BacktrackTo go back and summarize or review what was previously covered, as in a meeting.
BehaviourAny external verifiable activity we engage in.
BeliefsGeneralizations we make about the world and our opinions about it.
CalibrationUsually involves the comparison between two different sets of non-verbal cues (external verifiable behaviour). It allows us to distinguish another's state through non-verbal cues.
Chunking As in thinking – moving up or down a logical level. Chunking up is moving up to a higher, more abstract level that includes the lower level. Chunking down is moving to a level, which is more specific.
Complex EquivalenceThis occurs when two statements are considered to mean the same thing, E.G.: “She doesn’t look at me, and that means she doesn’t like me.”
- A meta model language pattern.
What is the Meta Model?
CongruenceWhen the behaviour (external verifiable) matches the words the person says.
ConsciousThat of which we are currently aware.
Contrastive AnalysisThis is a Sub Modality process of analysing two sets of Sub Modalities to discover the Drivers, I.E.: What makes them different. For example, the difference between Ice Cream (which the client likes) and Yogurt (which the client does not like) are based on Sub Modality distinctions.
Content Reframe(Also called a Meaning Reframe) Giving another meaning to a statement by recovering more content, which changes the focus, is a Content Reframe. You could ask yourself, “What else could this mean?” or “What is something you had not noticed?”
Context ReframingGiving another meaning to a statement changing the context. You could ask yourself, “What is another context in which this behaviour would be more appropriate?”
CriteriaThe NLP word for values – what is important to you.
Crossover MirroringMatching a person's external behaviour with a different movement, E.G.: Moving your finger to match the client’s breathing.
- See Building Rapport
Deep StructureThe unconscious basis for the surface structure of a statement. Much of the deep structure is out of awareness.
- See What is the Meta Model?
DeletionOne of the three major processes (including distortion and generalization) on which the Meta Model is based. Deletion occurs when we leave out a portion of our experience.
DigitalDigital (As opposed to Analogue) Digital distinctions have distinct variations of meaning as in a Digital watch, or an “On/Off” switch.
DissociatedIt deals with your relationship to an experience. In a memory, for example, you are dissociated when you are not looking through your own eyes, and you see your body in the picture.
DistortionOne of the three major processes (including deletion and generalization) on which the Meta Model is based. Distortion occurs when something is mistaken for that which it is not. In India there is a metaphor which explains this: A man sees a piece of rope in the road and thinks it is a dangerous snake, so he warns the village, but there is no snake.
DowntimeDowntime occurs whenever we go inside. It can occur when we go internal for a piece of information or when we get in touch with feelings. (See Up Time.)
DriversIn Sub Modalities, drivers are the difference that makes the difference. Discovered through the process of Contrastive Analysis, Drivers are the critical Sub Modalities, and when changed tend to carry the other Sub Modalities with them.
EcologyIn NLP, Ecology is the study of consequences. We are interested in the results of any change that occurs. It is often useful to look at the ecology in making any change as to the consequences for self, family (or business), society and planet.
ElicitationInducing a state in a client, or gathering information by asking questions or observing the client’s behaviour.
Eye Accessing CuesMovements of the eyes in certain directions which indicate visual, auditory or kinaesthetic thinking.
EpistemologyThe study of knowledge or how we know what we know.
First PositionThis is one of the Perceptual Positions. First Position is when you are in touch with only your own inner Model of the World.
- See Perceptual positions - change your perspective.
- See Perceptual positions for people who feel stuck.
FrameA frame sets a context, which is a way we can make a distinction about something, as in As-If Frame, Backtrack Frame, Outcome Frame.
Future PaceMentally rehearsing a future result to install a recovery strategy so that the desired outcome occurs.
GeneralizationOne of the three major processes (including distortion and deletion) on which the Meta Model is based.
Generalization occurs when one specific experience represents a whole class of experiences.
What is the Meta Model?
GustatoryTaste
IncongruenceWhen the behaviour (external verifiable) does not match the words the person says.
IntentThe desired outcome of a behaviour
Internal RepresentationsThe content of our thinking which includes Pictures, Sounds, Feelings, Tastes, Smells, and Self Talk.
KinaestheticThis sense includes feelings, and sensations.
Law of Requisite VarietyThe Law of Requisite Variety states that “In a given physical system, that part of the system with the greatest flexibility of behaviour will control the system.”
LeadingAfter pacing (matching or mirroring) a client’s behaviour, leading involves changing your behaviour so that the other person follows your behaviours.
- See Building Rapport
Lead SystemThis is where we go to access information. The Lead System is discovered by watching Eye Accessing Cues.
Logical LevelThe level of specificity or abstraction. (E.G.: Money is a lower logical level than Prosperity.)
Logical TypeThe category of information. (E.G.: Ducks are a different logical type from Cars.)
Mapping AcrossFollowing Contrastive Analysis, Mapping Across is the Sub Modality process of actually changing the set of Sub Modalities of a certain Internal Representation to change its meaning. E.G.: Mapping the Sub Modalities of Ice Cream (which the client likes) over to those of Yogurt (which the client does not like) should cause the client to dislike Ice Cream.
MatchingDeliberately imitating portions of another's behaviour for the purpose of increasing rapport. (E.G.: If we both raise our right hand, then I am matching you.)
- See building Rapport
Meaning Reframe(Sometimes called a Content Reframe) Giving another meaning to a statement by recovering more content, which changes the focus, You could ask yourself, “What else could this mean?” or “What is something you had not noticed in this context which will change the meaning of this?”
Meta ModelMeta Model means “Over” Model. A model of language, derived from Virginia Satir that allows us to recognize deletions, generalizations and distortions in our language, and gives us questions to clarify imprecise language.
What is the Meta Model?
Meta ProgramsThese are unconscious, content-free programs we run which filter our experiences. Toward & Away From, and Matching & Mismatching are examples of Meta Programs.
MetaphorA story (analogy or figure of speech) told with a purpose, which allows us to bypass the conscious resistance of the client and to have the client make connections at a deeper level.
Milton ModelThe Milton Model has the opposite intent of the Meta Model (Trance), and is derived from the language patterns of Milton Erickson. The Milton Model is a series of abstract language patterns which are ambiguous so as to match our client’s experience and assist her in accessing unconscious resources.
MirroringMatching portions of another person's behaviour, as in a mirror. (E.G.: If you raise your right hand, and I raise my left, then I am mirroring you.)
- See building Rapport
MismatchingThis generally relates to contradictory behaviour or words, and is one of the Meta Programs.
Modal Operator Modal Operator of Necessity relates to words, which form the rules in our lives (should, must, have to, etc.). Modal Operator of Possibility relates to words that denote that which is considered possible (can, cannot, etc.)
ModelIn NLP, a Model is a description of a concept or a behaviour, which includes the Strategies, Filter Patterns and Physiology so as to be able to be adopted easily.
ModellingModelling is the process by which all of NLP was created. In Modelling we elicit the Strategies, Filter Patterns (Beliefs and Values) and Physiology that allow someone to produce a certain behaviour. Then we codify these in a series of steps designed to make the behaviour easy to reproduce.
Model of the WorldA person's values, beliefs and attitudes that relate to and create his or her own world.
Neuro Linguistic ProgrammingNLP is the study of excellence, which describes how our thinking produces our behaviour, and allows us to model the excellence and to reproduce that behaviour.
NominalizationA process word which has been turned into a noun, often by adding “tion”.
- A meta model language pattern.
What is the Meta Model?
OlfactoryThe sense of smell
OutcomeDesired result
OverlapUsing a preferred representational system to allow us to gain access to another, E.G.: “Imagine walking (preferred rep system) along the beach and hearing the birds. Now, look down at the sand and feel the cool wet sand beneath your feet.”
PacingPacing is matching or mirroring another person’s external behaviour so as to gain rapport.
- See Building Rapport
PartsParts are a portion of the unconscious mind, which often have conflicting beliefs and values.
Parts IntegrationAn NLP technique, which allows us to integrate parts at the unconscious level by assisting each one to traverse logical levels (by chunking up) and to go beyond the boundaries of each to find a higher level of wholeness
Perceptual PositionDescribes our point of view in a specific situation: First Position is our own point of view. Second Position is usually someone else's point of view. Third position is the point of view of a dissociated observer.
- See Perceptual positions - change your perspective
- See Perceptual positions for people who feel stuck.
Phonological AmbiguityThis occurs when there are two words, which sound the same but have different meanings.
Preferred Rep SystemThis is the representational system that someone most often uses to think, and to organize his or her experiences.
PresuppositionsPresuppositions literally means assumptions. In natural language the presuppositions are what is assumed by the sentence. They are useful in “hearing between the lines” and also for communicating to someone using assumptions that will have to be accepted by the listener so that the communication makes sense.
- A meta model language pattern.
What is the Meta Model?
Presuppositions of NLPAssumptions or convenient beliefs, which are not necessarily “true,” but which if accepted and believed will change our thinking and improve our results as an NLP Practitioner.
- See The presuppositions of NLP
Primary Rep SystemThis is how we represent our internal processing, externally. (It is discovered by listening to Predicates and looking at Physiology.)
- See Primary representational systems
See related: Building Rapport
Punctuation AmbiguityAmbiguity, which is created by changing the punctuation of a sentence by pausing in the wrong place, or by running-on two sentences.
QuotesThis is a Linguistic Pattern in which your message is expressed as if by someone else.
RapportThe process of Matching or Mirroring someone so that they accept, uncritically, the suggestions you give them. (Originally in Hypnosis ‘Rapport’ had a different meaning, which was, a state where the subject in Hypnosis sees, hears only the Hypnotherapist.) This is not the meaning in NLP where it relates to establishing trust and rapport between two people.
See Building Rapport
ReframingThe process of changing the frame or context of a statement to give it another meaning. In selling this process is called, “Answering Objections.”
RepresentationA thought in the mind which can be comprised of Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Olfactory (smell), Gustatory (taste), and Auditory Digital (Self Talk).
Representational SystemOne of the six things you can do in your mind: Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Olfactory (smell), Gustatory (taste), and Auditory Digital (Self Talk).
ResourcesResources are the means to create change within oneself or to accomplish an outcome. Resources may include certain states, adopting specific physiology, new strategies, beliefs, values or attitudes, even specific behaviour.
Resourceful stateThis refers to any state where a person has positive, helpful emotions and strategies available to him or her. Obviously the state implies a successful outcome
Second PositionRelating to a Perceptual Position: Second Position describes our point of view in a specific situation. Second Position is usually someone else's point of view. (First Position is our own point of view, Third position is the point of view of a dissociated observer.)
- See Perceptual positions - change your perspective.
- See Perceptual positions for people who feel stuck.
Sensory AcuityThis relates to observational skills. Having Sensory Acuity means that we can notice things about our client’s physiology that most people would not notice.
Sensory-Based Description Is describing someone’s verifiable external behaviour in a way that does not include any evaluations, but in a way that just relates the specific physiology. E.G.: “She is happy,” is (in NLP terminology) an hallucination. A sensory-based description would be, her lips are curved upward at the end, and her face is symmetrical.
StateRelates to our internal emotional condition. I.E.: A happy state, a sad state, a motivated state, etc. In NLP we believe that the state determines our results, and so we are careful to be in states of excellence.
StrategyA specific sequence of internal and external representations that leads to a particular outcome.
Sub ModalitiesThese are distinctions (or subsets) that are part of each representational system that encode and give meaning to our experiences. E.G.: A picture may be in Black & White or Colour, may be a Movie or a Still, may be focused or defocused – these are visual Sub Modalities.
- See Submodlaities
- See related How to see the true nature of things
- See related NLP and mindfulness
Surface StructureThis is a linguistic term meaning the structure of our communication, which generally leaves out the completeness of the Deep Structure. The process is Deletion, Generalization and Distortion. (See also Deep Structure.)
- See What is the Meta Model?
SynaesthesiaA two-step strategy, where the two steps are linked together with one usually out of awareness, as in “I want to see how I feel.”
Syntactic AmbiguityWhere it is impossible to tell from the syntax of a sentence the meaning of a certain word. Often created by adding “ing” to a verb, as in “Hypnotizing Hypnotists can be easy.”
Third PositionRelating to a Perceptual Position: Third Position describes our point of view in a specific situation. Third position is the point of view of a dissociated observer. (First Position is our own point of view, Second Position is usually someone else's point of view.)
- See Perceptual positions - change your perspective.
- See Perceptual positions for people who feel stuck.
TranceAny altered state. In Hypnosis it is usually characterized by inward one-pointed focus.
UnconsciousThat of which you are not conscious, or which is out of awareness.
Unconscious MindThe part of your mind that you are not conscious of … right now.
Universal QuantifiersWords that are universal generalizations and have no referential index. Includes words such as “all”, “every”, and “never”
- A meta model language pattern.
What is the Meta Model?
- See Increase your willpower with these 3 NLP tips
- See Four words that will kill a relationship and how to avoid them
UptimeA state where the attention is focused on the outside (as opposed to Downtime where attention is focused inward).
ValuesHigh-level generalizations that describe that which is important to you, in NLP sometimes called criteria.
Vestibular SystemHaving to do with balance
VisualHaving to do with the sense of sight
Visual Squash(Now called Parts Integration.) An NLP technique which allows us to integrate parts at the unconscious level by assisting each one to traverse logical levels (by chunking up) and to go beyond the boundaries of each to find a higher level of wholeness.
Well FormedAlong with the Keys to an Achievable Outcome, the Well Formed Conditions allow us to specify outcomes that are more achievable, because the language conforms to certain rules.

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