Monday, March 12, 2007

NLP: NLP is about Thinking Part 8 - Language


This is Part 8 of our series of NLP is about Thinking and this is also the last part of our Section 1 - The Map is not the Territory of our article series.

The Map is not the Territory. Our Internal Reality is not exactly the External Reality. Einstein had once said that we could never know the true reality. he is absolutely right as we always delete, distort and/or generalize our outside world.

In our last 4 parts, we have already discussed the first 4 Factors which make "The Map is not the Territory". Today, we will proceed to the last factor, Language.

How does language creates the discrepancies between our map and the territory?

1. Language Has Limitations. Language is used to represent and communicate what we perceive & think. However, the information of what we perceive and think is in form of Sensory Data, i.e what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Language itself has limitations. Language might not be accurately used to represent and communicate them fully and exactly. This creates the discrepancies.

2. People Chooses Different Words. When we communicate, different people use different words to represent the same experience due to the difference of their filters. Even we hear the same words from someone, different people will have a different map about what he is talking about and it is quite sure that all these maps are not the same as the map of the speaker.

3. Words Used Imply Meanings to the Experience. As mentioned above, different people use different words to represent the same experience. Once the words are chosen, the experience is then influenced and limited by those words. He is not just him any more, he become a "bad guy" if we choose such words to describe him.

To reduce such discrepancies, we can

1. Become Multi-Lingual. Each language has her own limitations. The more languages that we can use to represent and communicate our experience, the less discrepancy will be created.

2. Be Good at Language. My primary teacher had once told me that if someone was good at language, he/she could be good at anything if he/she chose to learn it. She was right. If we can have more vocabularies to describe our perceptions and thinking, we can choose the more appropraite words.

3. Extend the Duration of Observation before we start to choose words to describe it. We form the First Access (FA) or the initial perception when we perceive something. The process is so fast that we tend to miss important information. Intentionally extending the duration allows us picking up as much information as possible. There is a paradox here. If we get more information, it becomes even more difficult to choose the right words to represent it.

4. Use Multiple Descriptions for the same experience. One single word or phrase might not be able to represent the experience close enough. We can use several different descriptions in our thinking and communication. This also promotes the use of different frames and perceptual positions, both for yourself and for the people you are communicating with.

5. Apply Meta-Model if Appropriate. In NLP, the Deep Structure is all the sensory information of the experience while the Surface Structure is the language we used to represent all those information in the Deep Structure. To communicate efficiently, the Surface Structure is a much deleted, distorted and generalized version of the Deep Structure. It is efficient but might not be effective. It can cause misunderstandings. Meta-Model is a special kind of language pattern use to reveal the Deep Structure during communication. You can find it in most of those good NLP books or we will discuss them in our NLP Practitioner Program.

Our maps are just the deleted, distorted, and generalized Perceptions and Linguistic Representations of the outside world. They are never the outside world.

This concludes our Section 1 of the article series. Starting next posting, we will continue to Section 2 - the NLP Modeling Process.

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