October 4

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How to Master the NLP Communication Model

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Understanding the NLP Communication Model

The NLP Communication Model is a simple but powerful tool created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder that explains how we process the information that comes from the outside world and what we do with it inside our minds. The NLP Communication Model can help show how our representation of reality affects our emotions and behaviors. Let me show you how it works.

Sensory Input


Imagine that there is an external event happening in the world, such as a person saying something to you, or a car honking at you, or a bird singing in the tree.

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This event (or information from the outside world) comes in through your five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste which correspond to the concept in Neuro-linguistic Programming known as NLP Representational Systems.

nlp communication model

You receive millions of bits of information per second through your senses, but you can only pay attention to a certain amount of information. So you unconsciously filter certain aspects according to your personal preferences, beliefs, values, past memories, experiences, meta programs and expectations. We even use language to a certain extent to filter things.

You delete, or omit, some million bits of information that you think is irrelevant or unimportant, you distort some information that you think is inaccurate or inconsistent with your beliefs, and you generalize the information that you think is similar or familiar to what you already know. Collectively, this is known as deletion, distortion, and generalization.

As a result of this filtering process, you create an internal representation of external circumstances in your mind. This internal representation is made up of pictures, sounds, feelings, smells, and tastes that you associate with the event. This is how you make sense of the world. In fact, your experience of the world and how you see the world is a direct result of how we filter and integrate things.

For example, if someone says "I love you" to you, you might see their face smiling at you, hear their voice saying those words, feel a warm sensation in your chest, smell their perfume or cologne, and taste their kiss on your lips. How you represent (or misrepresent) reality is not the same as the reality itself; it is your subjective interpretation of it.


Your internal representation then triggers a physiological response in your body. Your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle tension, hormone levels, and other bodily functions change according to your internal representation. For instance, if your internal representation is positive and pleasant, you might feel relaxed and happy; if your internal representation is negative and unpleasant, you might feel stressed and angry.

Your physiology then influences your emotional state. Your state is how you feel at any given moment. It can be positive or negative, high or low energy, calm or excited, etc. Your state affects how you think and act in response to the external event. As an example, if your state is confident and optimistic, you might say something nice back to the person who said "I love you" to you; if your state is insecure and pessimistic, you might say something rude or sarcastic back to them.

As you can see from this model, the way we communicate and respond to others is not determined by the external event itself, but by how we perceive it internally. We create our own reality based on our filters and internal representations. This means that we have the power to change our reality by changing our filters and internal representations.

How can we do that? Well, there are many techniques and strategies that NLP offers to help us change our filters, limiting beliefs, and/or internal representations for the better which can lead to personal growth. Some of them are:

  • Reframing: This is a way of changing the meaning of an event by looking at it from a different perspective or context. For example, if someone criticizes you for something you did wrong, you could reframe it as feedback (which corresponds to the NLP Presupposition that there's no such as failure, only feedback) that helps you improve yourself instead of taking it personally.
  • Submodalities: These are the finer details of our internal representations that affect how we feel about them. For example, if you have a picture in your mind of something scary, you could change its submodalities by making it smaller, darker, quieter, farther away from you, or even adding a funny soundtrack to it.
  • Anchoring: This is a way of creating a link between a stimulus and a response that enables us to access positive states whenever we want. For example, if you have a memory of a time when you felt happy and confident, you could anchor it by squeezing your fist or touching your earlobe while recalling it. Then, whenever you need to feel happy and confident again, you could trigger the anchor by squeezing your fist or touching your earlobe.
  • Swish Pattern: This is a way of replacing an unwanted behavior or state with a desired one by creating a mental switch between them. For example, if you have a habit of procrastinating on your tasks, you could swish it by imagining yourself doing the task successfully and then quickly replacing that image with another one of yourself feeling proud and satisfied after completing it.

These are just some of the many NLP techniques that can help you change your filters and internal representations for the better. By applying them, you can create a more positive and empowering reality for yourself and others. You can also communicate more effectively and empathetically with others by understanding how they filter and represent their reality. You can use NLP to build rapport, influence, persuade, negotiate, coach, teach, learn, and much more!


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